Swarnav Pujari participated in the 2016-17 Cleantech Open Business Accelerator. He brought to life TouchLight Innovations. He was also recognized for winning the #1 Emerging Technology Award! Read this amazing article below about Swarnav and TouchLight Innovations! To see the full article by Frederick Daso, go to: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/from-start-startup-swarnav-toughlight-innovations-frederick-daso?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_detail_base%3B5u%2BSbRLWBcVpUs%2B13TrZTA%3D%3D
From Start to Startup: Swarnav and TouchLight Innovations
By Frederick Daso
“Traffic is heavily backed up,” your smartphone notification reads.
You rely on public transportation to get to and from work Monday through Friday (and sometimes weekends), so you know that it’ll take hours on the bus to get home in time for dinner.
It’s half-past six and the sun has already set. You decide to grab a quick meal at the local diner before embarking for the bus depot.
Your dress shoes thump on the concrete sidewalk as you journey to eat a hot meal. You notice the streetlights flickering, briefly leaving you in moments of darkness.
The city’s local power grid hasn’t been upgraded in decades. Street and traffic lights frequently lose power. The municipality has struggled to raise enough funds to improve both the power generation and distribution capabilities of the local power plant. Unfortunately, they’ve had to prioritize power distribution due to rising energy costs.
The streetlight’s absence doesn’t bother you though – you’ve arrived at the diner. As you take your seat and peruse through the order, you can’t help but feel that there’s something you could do to help keep the streetlights on. Seeing those lights flicker is seeing the city’s hopes and dreams waver. A vibrant and bustling city should have its lights shining bright to continue attracting the finest newcomers.
But what can the average person do to help keep the lights on?
Swarnav Pujari has thought deeply about this question. A star pitcher throughout high school, he knew all about keeping energy surging through his team and draining it from his opponents. Every pitch he threw led to a strike.
Every strike led to a strikeout.
Every strikeout led more energy, more motivation for his team to knock baseballs deep towards the stadium lights. Every step his teammates took to the round the bases gave the rest of the energy to persevere through every inning.
Every teammate who slid through to home plate knew what awaited them – an energetic and excited team ready to claim victory.
Swarnav was the source of that energy for any team he played on.
He was their light.
Unfortunately, all lights dim at some point. His own was dimmed at his zenith as a pitcher when he was diagnosed with pancreatitis after he collapsed during one baseball practice.
His health was in dire straights. Survival was not guaranteed.
The bright promise of his career darkened as he struggled to overcome his unexpected disease. Seasons went by, and fortunately, his health recovered.
Unfortunately, his prospects of becoming a baseball star didn't.
He was gone from the pitcher’s mound for too long. He was out of shape, out of practice. The scouts who had their eye trained on him lost interest and began to pursue other hotshot potential recruits.
Facing this new reality, Swarnav had figure out where he would have to pour his time and energy as he transitioned back into his regular routine.
If he couldn’t energize his team with his lightening fast curveballs, then he’d pour his time and energy into powering major cities across the world.
His solution to the growing energy crisis comes in the form of the TouchLight Innovations, a company that specializes in generating and harvesting power from people.
Power from people. How does that work?
Swarnav was first interested in sustainable energy when his grandfather sent him a book on the topic. He designed and developed a prototype for a fully renewable car design for Ford at the ripe age of eleven. That experience gave him the courage and confidence to continue pursuing his interests at the interaction of material science and sustainable energy.
An excerpt from a New York Times article featuring Swarnav's elementary school project.
In high school, his interest blossomed after reading a Forbes article on an elevator that generated electricity. As the elevator ascended and descended to different levels of the building, it was powered by harvesting people’s energy from moving up and down. In addition, he explored the applications of piezoelectricity, the ability for some materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress.
He quickly combined the concept harvesting energy from people and piezoelectricity by developing the Power Pad. The Power Pad is able to convert the pressure of your foot on the pad into usable electrical energy. Imagine all of the steps you take a day as you go from location to location. A portion of the energy you use to move yourself could help power the city you live in as it is converted into electricity that can be stored and distributed across the power grid.
Swarnav sees this as a win-win for not only the average person, but also power companies that struggle to both generate and distribute electricity to homes, businesses, and other critical resources that cities depend on to function properly. By being relieved of the burden to generate electricity through harmful fossil-fuel resources, power companies can focus their limited resources on improving the distribution of electricity through aging power grids. Cash strapped cities don’t have to worry about power generation when the average city dweller can generate the equivalent of 10 Watt-mins per each step. With a population the size of Atlanta, that’s enough electricity to power the whole city for a day.
And it all comes from people. The excess energy could be then resold to other entities that are in need of extra power, allowing individuals and businesses to even make money generating energy from walking around in buildings.
Swarnav and his team realize how they can revolutionize power grids across major metropolitan areas just capturing the lost energy of a city’s inhabitants. It’s an unbelievably simple but well-executed idea that, if scaled properly, can change how we think about and consume energy.
There was a point in time where Swarnav could have been on the pitcher’s mound in an Major League Baseball game, lighting up the field with his electrifying pitches.
Now, he’ll be making sure cheap, reliable electricity will be delivered to your device that you watch it in.
All it takes in a person walking around a city with the streetlights always on because of the Power Pads that make up the sidewalks.
Swarnav and TouchLight Innovations are making our collective future looking brighter, one step at a time.
By Steve Webster on in Midwest