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Thinking Differently

Remote lighting switch

This invention suggested by Saranga Ishara Dayarathna from Rahula College, Matara was undoubtedly one of the most well developed student achievements that had been displayed on Opportunities 2006.

The idea is simple; a circuit that will fit into a residential wall socket of a light bulb, that will allow remote control of the light. The control allowed three options. Off, dim light and maximum light output.

These three options could be triggered by any television remote control in the market. Saranga's idea was switch off lights as easily as switching off a TV.

So far the product is quite feasible. The wall sockets do not have to be changed and the circuit can be easily plugged into the existing socket. The designed model had cost approximately 180Rs but Saranga is quite sure that they would be able to give a device for 140Rs if mass production was done.

The project was also guided by the University of Moratuwa where finer details were made and a business report had been complied.

Saranga was an award winner at the Junior Inventors competition 2004, and is also a SLIC National Award winner.

Inventor: Saranga Ishara Dayarathna

Contact: 041-2252177, 0779-176453

"A nation emerging from inventions and innovations..."

The Opportunities 2006 exhibition organized by the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC) was held at the BMICH. A large gathering of inventors of all ages from various different parts of the country.

The exhibition showcased a variety of novel technological ideas and concepts, most of which were solutions to everyday problems like artificial arms to turn pages (for the differently-abled), automatic string hopper machines, mosquito prevention techniques, motor cycle tow wheelers, garden sweepers, cinnamon processing machines and selective tea cutting machines.

The exhibition provided inventors with the opportunity to show their products to the world and perhaps gain financial aid to develop their products further. One of the positive aspects seen in the exhibition was the participation of many school teachers and children from the rural areas.

The Eastern Province, Southern Province, Central Province and Northern Province teachers and students had come all the way with their new innovations to participate and take part in the occasion. All credit should be given to the SLIC for encouraging and promoting inventions and innovations among these school children.

"I have one humble request for the UGC," says Thrishantha Nanayakkara, the Sri Lanka Inventors Commissioner. "And that is to recruit 1% of the inventors with minimum entry marks to Universities. Because these children can perform and will perform if given the chance."

Opportunities 2006 has truly revealed that the nation is not void of innovative thought. It's just hidden behind barriers of the system, that desperately need to be broken.

Computerized fuel station

One of the interesting commercial stalls in Oppurtunities 2006 was by ACAL systems PVT LTD. They've introduced a software solution to computerize and fully automate fuel stations.

With this system in place customers can pump fuel on to their vehicle by themselves by swiping their credit

card or debit card and releasing the fuel. If the person is paying by cash then they would have to go to the cashier and according to the payment made the amount of fuel will be released at the customer's disposal.

Though this is not a new thing to developed countries, the software and equipment were made by ACAL systems Sri Lanka and therefore can be categorized as a Sri Lankan re-engineered product.

Currently there are 3 fuel stations using the technology, namely Maharagama, Tissamaharama, and Balangoda.

The cost for implementing this technology is roughly about 1.2 million for 5 tanks, and therefore is not a large investment to make in the long run. ACAL system has also been awarded the BCS National Best Quality Software Award in 2006 in the Industrial category.

Company involved: ACAL systems


Automated Real time traffic controller

This too being a final year project by the final year students from the Electronics and Telecommunications engineering undergraduates from the University of Moratuwa, was a furnished and industrial standard concept put into action.

The idea is to have sensors in roads which pick out the traffic flow and intelligently direct traffic lights so that minimum traffic congestion is encountered. According to the students K.G.C Gunapala, W. M. Gunathilake, and H.G. Jayasinghe, there are off the shelf products in the market that can be bought to measure the amount of traffic, such as magnetic loops and piezoelectric sensors.

The students also say that with correct implementation of RFID cards the frequency can be easily recorded as well. RFID cards which are basically 'identity cards' with a digital signature, can be issued with vehicle revenue license if the government is really interested.

A value added service would be to centralize the traffic flow information on a server and give the information to any driver on request- ideally by SMS and through WiMAX. This would not only become a source of income for the government or any other party, it would also provide drivers with accurate driving directions that would get him or her quickly to the destination of travel.

"The phase I of UniRoad which we did with the RDA was basically a cost cutting solution," explains the graduates. "We haven't negotiated with the RDA yet but maybe in phase II we can implement this adaptive road design and improve the traffic flow."

Staff advisor: Dr. Ajith Pasquel, University of Moratuwa

Power saving solutions

Opportunities 2006 was full of small concepts that would make a big difference in our lives if implemented. One of these simple ideas was probably one that we've all thought of at some stage when walking around Colombo; to switch off the burning street lamps automatically when daylight hits the streets.

Rasika Indrajit, a final year student at the University of Moratuwa showed off the simple circuit that allowed street lamps to extinguish when it's not needed. Rasika also demonstrated another simple circuit that can be fixed on ceiling fans to set a fixed time of operation.

This circuit would allow a person to adjust a 'timer' so that when the specified time (ex: 1 hr, 2 hr, 4 hr, 8hr) passes the ceiling fan would shut down by itself.

Though these concepts might sound too simple to be called innovations, these small in fact do contribute significantly to the evolution of the product as well as the user experience.

Staff advisor: Prof. K.K. W. Perera, University of Moratuwa

Red Weevil Detector

Another commercial product that happened to be in the exhibition was the Red Palm Weevil detector. Designed, and sold by Rinzen laboratories (with the collaboration of the Lunuwila Coconut Research Institute) the simple contraption only costs around 6000Rs, which makes it affordable even for the average household coconut farmer.

The detector simply amplifies the sound inside the tree so that an average human being can detect the noises clearly. Then pre-recorded samples of insect sounds are also given so that the farmer can identify and take necessary action to avoid the plant being eaten.

The red palm weaver unlike other insects is very hard to track before the damage is done to the tree. It's been a serious problem for 40-50 years in more than 30 countries.

Rinzen laboratories has a bag of inventions and innovations behind their name, including a industrial counter and data logger for textile industries to keep a dynamic log of their workers. They are currently working on a huge project that they say is top secret, which would boost performance in Textile and similar industries by 'performance evaluating algorithms'. More on that later.

Company: Rinzen Laboratories


Herbal Juice & Fish cutter ~ an admirable effort by students in Mannar

In a very humble corner of Opportunities 2006 there were two energetic young students trying to explain how a simple fish cutting machine would improve their quality of life. The inventors of the device, Nivoncy Fernando and Anton Abiyathuram were accompanied by their zealous teacher Mr. M. G. J. Ravel.

While Nivonvy eagerly demonstrated how a dried fish can be cut to the desired shape by one single stroke by their invention, Mr. Ravel showed some herbal 'medicine' they've obtained from Shoe flowers, Nelli and Karapincha juice. The medicines were categorized as all-purpose, anti-viral, pain killer and hair growth.

Though might not prove to be a feasible business venture, the participation of these students from Mannar, is in fact a point that should be appreciated.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka
Kapruka -

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