This 14-year-old has developed a robotic tool prototype that aids in kinetic movements of fingers, hands, arms
The numbers speak for themselves. We definitely need more women in STEM fields. According to the United Nations, women constitute merely 14 percent of the total 280,000 scientists, engineers, and technologists in research development institutions in India.
Globally, the scene is no different. A US study suggests that girls begin to lose self-confidence in middle school because they believe boys possess more intelligence in technological fields.
It’s 2020 and still, there is an under-representation of women in STEM. It’s therefore, heartening to hear of young people in India trying to make a mark in this field.
One such youngster who is taking her love for robotics and hoping to turn it into a profitable business enterprise is Lavanya Iyer, a 14-year-old student of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai.
Love for robotics
As a robotics enthusiast, Lavanya regularly participates in global competitions on robotics and also mentors young students in the field.
The idea of a business, however, came from one of her sessions at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!)
“I have always been fascinated by science and technology, especially robotics, and I am determined to change the statistics and imbalance in this space,” she says.
The young entrepreneur clearly remembers her second session at YEA!, where they discussed at length about the problems around them and brainstormed on how to find solutions.
“That’s when I thought about my aunt, who had to undergo a surgery when she was young, and had to take the long road to recovery through physiotherapy. It was a painful memory and made me realise that there must be a large segment of patients who face similar issues. It was then that I thought of a way to make this process easier for both patients and physiotherapists, and the idea of Kynaid was born.”
For patients and physiotherapists
Kynaid, as the name suggests, is a robotic tool that aids in the kinetic movement of fingers, hand, and arm. It assists in the speedy recovery of patients and provides efficient physiotherapy management.
Lavanya emphasises that the product, which evolved with inputs from doctors, physiotherapists, and patients, is simple, easy to use, and inexpensive.
She says, the prototype is ready, and she is in the process of filing for a patent.
Initially, Lavanya plans to introduce Kynaid to physiotherapists to garner their support and then reach out to consumers, as it will help them in their job and help patients to do the exercises at home.
She plans a business model comprising customer segments - patients and physiotherapists.
“Kynaid is primarily positioned to be used for rehabilitation after surgery. I believe Kynaid has a huge potential in geriatrics, with exercise programmes to perform skilled finger movements that can improve age-related regression of hand function in the elderly,” Lavanya says.
Kynaid will offer a basic and fully functional model, and also a range of models with additional features. While the basic model could be priced at around Rs 10,000 to make it affordable, the ones with additional features could go up to Rs 25,000.
Lavanya attributes moving forward with her idea to her mentorship and training sessions at YEA!
“YEA has helped me get in touch with various industry leaders who have helped me with improving upon various aspects of my business. I won the second prize at the investor panel and got the opportunity to attend the YEA! Global competition in the US. I also attended two YEA! trade shows and through all these avenues, I received brilliant feedback on my product and guidance on ways to improve it and make it more patient-friendly. All this exposure through YEA! really boosted my self-confidence and the feedback helped me tweak my business plan,” she says.
Lavanya also got the opportunity to pitch at a healthtech conference organised by IIM-Ahmedabad, where the judges were so impressed by her product that they announced an impromptu seed funding for her venture.
She is also looking to raise seed funding from private investors to scale up the business to its real potential.
“I am hoping to extend Kynaid into other physiotherapy practices such as acupressure. This is just the beginning. I do hope I can continue using my creative skills in designing technological innovations in the field of healthcare. Nothing will give me more happy than to break stereotypes for women in STEM by making an impact in this space through my healthtech innovations,” says Lavanya.