Innovator makes bicycle bumps a bonus

August 21, 2008 By Peter
Kanak Das
Kanak Das

I’m tempted to make this post one of those “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” lessons. But I won’t, because there’s so much more to the story. It begins this way: a poor, yong man in India realizes that the bumps on the rugged, rural roads he travels might be converted–literally–into foward motion.

So Kanak Das retrofitted his bicycle. Now the shock absorbers convert the energy they absorb, when the moving bike hits bumps in the road, into force that assists the pedals.

Bump Converter
Bump Converter

The bigger story behind Kanak’s bike is the Innovation Database of India’s National Innovation Foundation  and another similar database in the Honeybee Network “a global initiative to give voice to creative and innovative people at grassroots.” Both archives are brimming with do-or-die ingenuity.

While we, in the comfort of our labs and brainstorming salons, struggle to find better ways to come up with more and better flavors of sugar water and pizza toppings, people in less comfortable situations live in the real “innovate or die” world.

Okay, so you lose your job if you and your team don’t increase sales by such and such a percentage this year. There’s a ricksha driver described in the Honeybee Network working on a gearbox that might reduce the number of premature deaths his mates endure.

But it’s not all toil and trouble. You’ll also find satisfying follow-up stories. For example, Kanak Das is working with an professional group to secure his patent and bring his innovation to market.

Does anybody know anybody who knows Lance Armstrong?

Peter Lloyd writes Right Brain Workouts for IdeaConnection.

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