Pragnesh Dudhaiya and Aalok Bhatt study engineering at Nirma University in Ahmedabad, India, though a helmet they recently invented may make them the latest green entrepreneurs. When the two students heard about a 'green festival' their college was hosting, they decided to whip something up for the occasion. Three days later, they put the finishing touches on a new bike helmet equipped with solar panels and a small fan, capable of charging a cell phone in the time it takes to pedal to work. The students even added a bit of flair to their clever prototype: a sticker with two crudely drawn trees and the simple slogan, "Save Environment."Sure, it may look a bit like a high-tech helicopter beanie, but according to the Bangalore Mirror, the helmet can help save energy--and your life. The wind and solar energy produced during a 40 minute bike ride while wearing the helmet is enough to charge a cell phone, but the inventors think it will also make cyclists safer.
Pragnesh describes the duo's inspiration:
The number of accidents in the city is on the rise. Two-wheeler drivers who don't wear protective head gear face a greater risk. We hope that our product will encourage such people to wear a helmet.
For daylight rides, the helmet's mounted solar panels will charge a cell phone or, with the flip of a switch, store the energy to be used later. Plus, if it's placed in a sunny spot, the helmet will continue to produce electricity once you've arrived to your destination.
After the sun has set, the helmet's small fan captures the energy from the wind when cyclists are moving, or set outside on a breezy night. In a sense, it's a little green power plant you can wear wherever you go.
Pragnesh and Aalok say they hope to file a patent on their helmet soon, saying the product would cost around US$22--"a small price to pay for safety as well as convenience," they say.
Judging from the looks of the helmet prototype, the young engineering students clearly aren't fashion designers, but indeed they're something far more important: green innovators with a knack for problem solving. And at a time when finding smart, green solutions to our energy demands is as important as ever, Pragnesh and Aalok are just the trendsetters the world needs--poorly drawn trees and all.