[Startup Bharat] Surat-based Jal Technologies aims to help India solve its air pollution problem
After two months of lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus, which required the shutting down of factories and businesses, India saw a decline in its air pollution levels. However, the economy is slowly opening up again. And, now more than ever, it is important to be aware of the environmental hazards looming upon us.
To this effect, Surat-based cleantech IoT startup Jal Technologies tracks, monitors, and measures pollution and climatic levels at several locations across the state to understand how pollution is affecting people’s lives.
Vignesh Kaneria and Alpesh Donga, co-founders, Jal Technologies
Founded in 2015 by Alpesh Donga and Vignesh Kaneria, Jal Technologies has developed an IoT device, which uses sensor-based technology to monitor air pollution levels.
Speaking with YourStory, Vignesh explains that Prkruti can be installed anywhere — on poles or outdoors on walls to monitor the levels of air pollution.
“We started up in the environmental space owing to Alpesh’s love for nature and solving problems plaguing the environment. In 2015, when we realised the dangers of air pollution, we began developing a device, which will give data about the pollution level in real-time. Over the next five years, we developed different versions of Prkruti after analysing loopholes and errors in the solution and now we have our final version ready,” he says.
How does Prkruti work
According to Vignesh, the real-time data collected by Prkruti is validated by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. The data can then be accessed by government institutions and industries through the integrated open-source software on mobiles or computers.
The co-founder explains that the B2B device monitors air quality real-time and shares the data via Wi-Fi and GPRS to a central server, which then displays the findings on the Prkruti app or web display software.
With insights about factors such as PM 2.5, PM 10, carbon dioxide, ozone, humidity, noise etc., government institutions can come up with policies to control the air quality of a particular area. The data available will help individuals get aware of the impact of their actions on the environment and what they can do to control pollution levels.
Prkruti, which can be installed outdoors on poles and walls, runs independently as it is powered by solar energy. It is also waterproof to safeguard itself from rains. “The device produces its own solar energy to power itself and does not require any extra electricity to operate. The device can also store solar energy to power itself for at least two to three days in case of cloudy or rainy weather,” says Vignesh.
He adds that the technology has been completely developed in India while the hardware components are being sourced from Europe.
The startup has also been selected by petrochemical major Shell for its E4 Scale Track 2020. As a part of this programme, Shell will help the selected startups to scale up their products and operations, and also focus on their business strategy. Shell also invested an undisclosed amount in February 2020 in Jal Technologies as a part of this programme.
Prkruti. Credit: Jal Technologies
B2C Solution: Prkruti Lite
Jal Technologies has also developed a B2C solution Prkruti Lite to measure the indoor air quality. According to Vignesh, it is a compact and portable device, which needs to be connected to one’s mobile phone to show real-time data on the quality of the indoor air.
“Prkruti Lite is a small device, which needs to be connected to an Android phone and will be powered through the phone. Once the users plug in the device and download the Prkruti Lite mobile application, they can monitor the level of pollutants in their surrounding air real-time,” the co-founder adds.
Vignesh says that the product is available for purchase on Amazon India portal. Apart from this, the startup is also planning to showcase the product on Amazon Launchpad.
The device tracks and monitors Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), carbon dioxide concentrations, temperature, humidity, air pressure, and noise. It immediately notifies the user through the application when they enter places with poor air quality. The solution is especially effective for people with breathing troubles, such as asthma, to prevent themselves from being in places with harmful air quality.
Prkruti Lite. Credit: Jal Technologies
Business and more
Speaking about the business model, Vignesh explains that the company is targeting to set up the products for government institutions, smart city infrastructure, and industry CSR projects. Apart from this, the startup is also planning to work in rural areas for air quality monitoring and forecast weather quality for farmers to solve agricultural problems.
“The price of the B2B solution differs depending on the parameters needed by the clients to be monitored. On average, the Prkruti solution can cost somewhere between Rs 2 and 5 lakh. However, the B2C solution Prkruti Lite is available on Amazon for a fixed price of Rs 3,500,” says Vignesh.
According to the co-founder, Jal Technologies has deployed Prkruti and is conducting pilot projects at the Surat, Rajkot, and Vadodara municipalities in Gujarat, and union territory Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Speaking about future plans, Vignesh says that the startup is currently looking to scale up its operations and deploy Prkruti across India. However, he adds that Jal Technologies has no immediate funding plans and is currently working with its own funding and investment from Shell.
The co-founder also mentioned that the startup competes with Bosch Climo Aeroqual. He added that the startup is working with government institutions such as CPCB, NEERI, and NPL for validation of the product.