Texas Native Develops Solar-Powered Wireless Router For ASSET India

InnoCentive, a global innovation marketplace, has announced the winner of a challenge posted last November by 'The ASSET India Foundation' seeking the design of a solar-powered wireless router. Zacary Brown of Texas was awarded $20,000 for his design by the Rockefeller Foundation, which sponsored this challenge.

ASSET (Achieving Sustainable Social Equality through Technology) India Foundation is a non-profit organisation that helps train the children of sex workers and girls rescued from trafficking, in technology, so they can escape the sex slave industry in India. ASSET India has successfully established training centres within several major cities within India but sought the development of a solar-powered wireless router through InnoCentive's network to enable them to reach small rural towns with limited electricity or available Internet access. GlobalGiving, a non-profit organisation that connects donors with community based projects around the world, made the Rockefeller Foundation aware of ASSET India and worked with them to get the challenge posted on InnoCentive.

The challenge was posted on the InnoCentive website for two months beginning November 28, 2007, and closed at the end of January 2008. Over 400 InnoCentive solvers analysed this challenge, and 27 solutions were submitted. The challenge sought the design of a solar-powered wireless router composed of low-cost, readily available hardware and software components. The router is to become part of an Internet communications network connecting metropolises and remote towns in developing countries. ASSET India will own the Intellectual Property rights to the design.

Zacary Brown, a software engineer who joined InnoCentive's Solver community in 2006, came up with an appropriate solution to this challenge. Brown’s solution runs on a Linux-based system and is powered totally by a battery that is charged through solar panels. It was built with hardware that is able to withstand daily outdoor use and can be controlled remotely, allowing network operators to activate the switches with pre-paid cell phones.

This solution will allow teenagers in small centres outside big cities to handle some of the work that is coming from technology companies in the cities and gain the skills to achieve greater career opportunities in the future. The prototypes for the solar-powered wireless router will be built by engineering students at the University of Arizona this year as part of a year-long senior project for two undergraduate classes.

Brown said, "I regularly check for interesting challenges on InnoCentive's website and found this one particularly interesting because it combined several of my hobbies. I analysed the problem for several weeks, actively working on it in the evenings. I got discouraged at one point but kept going and finally found the solution. It is rewarding to develop something that will have such a profound impact on children in India and support a world cause."

Ray Umashanker, executive director, ASSET India Foundation, said, "We have been receiving ten to twelve requests per month from rural towns in India to establish computer centres. Our concern was that there were no businesses and industries in these small towns to provide employment but InnoCentive came to our rescue, allowing us to come up with a solution that would involve outsourcing work from the big cities to the small towns. We looked at a number of solutions and selected this one because it was the most comprehensive. It called for hardware parts that were affordable and even suggested places where the parts could be purchased. We see on a daily basis the positive effects that our training centres have on children, who live in the big cities. We are thrilled that we will now be able to extend our services to other parts of the country, educating children so they will be able to escape the sex trade industry in India."

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Updated Date: Jan 31, 2017 01:52:43 IST