From finding a toilet to communication for differently-abled: Tech for social good

DEF India hosted the mBillionth Award 2018 and showcased some best tech innovators in the country.

On 3 October, the Digital Empowerment Foundation of India organised the sixth edition of the mBillionth Award, which basically felicitates technology companies that use their innovations for the social good. Some 156 participants across India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan participated in this competition, of which 25 were shortlisted for their incredible work.

I was at the event and had a chance to interact with each of these 25 participants. However, five of them really caught my attention. Here are the apps and services they have come up with.

From finding a toilet to communication for differently-abled: Tech for social good

Representational image.

Toilet Finder

This app especially had my attention because it tries to find a solution to the most basic issue in our country, and that is sanitation. If you have travelled long distances in India (and if you are a woman) you have definitely decided to not drink water at all during that road trip, because that would lead to nature’s call and you will most likely have to go out in the open, because looking for toilets on most Indian highways is like asking for the moon.

Toilet Finder app is available on both iOS and Android.

Toilet Finder app is available on both iOS and Android.

However, with the app Toilet Finder, you can find the nearest Toilet, see the cleanliness and hygiene ratings, and give your own feedback.

And in some cases, founder Alok Nikhil Jha said, Toilet Finder also gets in touch with the local authorities of certain areas, where people repeatedly search for a toilet and have none to use.

The Toilet Finder app is available in eight countries and eight languages, and can be used on both iOS and Android platform.


In a country where millions of women and children are victims of sex trafficking, Leena Kejriwal started an initiative where she wanted to create an awareness against this practice via art and technology. From workshops, wall arts, and now a game app called Missing, she aims to put people in the shoes of a person who goes through such an experience.

A suffocating yet crucial app.

A suffocating yet crucial app.

The Missing app, in particular, is a story-format game, which takes you through the suffocating experience of a girl who has been kidnapped and trapped. The story goes forward according to the options you choose. Mind you, every bit of it is heart-breaking and suffocating (nothing compares to the person who is actually been through it) but that is the whole point of it.

Kejriwal also told us that each of these stories that the game app has, are based on a real-life experience of someone who was rescued.

The app is only available on iOS.


Remember the movie Margarita with a Straw? Saw how Kalki Koechlin’s character in the movie uses an app to communicate, the Jellow app is basically that for children with disabilities and concentrated for the audience in India.

Jellow App helps the disabled communicate.

Jellow App helps the disabled communicate.

The app uses AI to help users connect words and emotions into a sentence, by one-tap feedins. The responses on the app are very thorough and cover every thing you want to say, you want to eat, and what you are feeling. For a more advanced user, they also have the option for a keyboard.

The representatives at the stall for Jellow Communication also told us of a prototype that the company is working on, which lets a user who can’t use a tab to use single-push button for communication through the app. In addition to the app, they also have cards and booklets for communication.

The Jellow app is available on Android.


Senthil Kumar has been working with the tribal villages for a while and realised that pregnant women in the areas get zero care, and they run away from medical checkups. There are many reasons for that though: medical clinics are situated far away from villages; there are no regular medical camps and therefore their antenatal checkups are delayed, thus increasing the mortality rate of the mothers and young foetuses.

SaveMom is the best example of how a simple tech can serve such complex purpose.

SaveMom is the best example of how a simple tech can serve such complex purpose.

And so, Kumar created a medical kit called SaveMom, which included a natal heart rate monitor, a blood sugar test kit, a blood pressure measuring device and a heart rate monitor for the mother.

The data from all of this goes to a common app. Now all these equipments stay with the local medical clinic. The mother only has to wear a beaded necklace around her neck or her wrist, that constantly tracks her vitals and keeps updating them in the app.

This necklace has a life-span of 10 months, and each of the tiny beads have a sensor and a battery in them. In the middle, it has a big bead which houses the processor and storage, where all this data is saved.

SaveMom Team visits these doctors and mothers every week for any assistance, and provide them with the care they deserve.

The app is also available only on Android.


Finally, there is an app that makes even me (someone who is petrified of the words like mutual funds, investments, and ITR) want to get the ball rolling in the share market. Very interestingly, the app is named Groww with double-W, because that signifies ‘growing’.

Apparently this app makes investment simpler than posting a picture on Instagram.

Apparently this app makes investment simpler than posting a picture on Instagram.

The app, as the product marketing manager, Shikhar Singh explains, is probably simpler than posting a picture on Instagram.

It shows you the list of the best performing mutual funds in the market and makes things so much easier, with thousands of such options sitting out there, that only make the task of investment tougher.

Additionally, the app also allows you to redeem your money from the policies in an instant. Pretty much everything on this app can be done in under 10 taps.

The app is available on both iOS and Android platforms.