Bengaluru-based Rajlakshmi Borthakur’s world turned upside down in 2011 when she found out that her six-month-old son, Tejas, suffered from epilepsy. “Tejas was six months old when his epilepsy was diagnosed. His seizures would not stop and he would have to be taken to the hospital each time,” the 40-year-old says.
Things took a turn for the worse when Tejas’ neurologist informed her that he would never get better. Not willing to let her son suffer for the rest of his life, she decided to take things in her own hands.
What ensued was years of hardcore research, ranging from neurology and Internet of Things to cellular functioning and artificial intelligence. Her hard work paid off in 2015 when she came up with the concept of a smart glove that could take cells from the palm of one’s hand to help detect seizures in advance. A hurdle, however, blocked her way. Borthakur—who had worked as a digital and content strategist, programmer, writer, trainer, among others, at companies such as Infosys, Sapience and E&Y during a 19-year-long career in the IT industry—had no experience in creating software. “I didn’t know how to interface the design, so I went to an expert and asked him to do it for me,” she says.
Soon, a prototype of the device, which she named Tjay after her son, was up and running. The smart glove senses a person’s electric signals and keeps track of their health vitals such as heart rate and pulse. This information is transmitted to a connected mobile device through Bluetooth, providing adequate warning of an epilepsy attack.
Later in 2015, Borthakur put together a team and formed a company called Terrablue XT to commercially build the device, which is still in its testing phase. She plans to put Tjay (which won the 2015 Innovate Digital India challenge) out for sale by the middle of this year. “We have received 250 pre-orders for the product, which is priced at Rs 25,000,” she says.
Talking about her decision to make the device available for others, Borthakur says, “When I started, it was just for Tejas. I had never imagined starting my own firm… But when you go to the ICU, you see other children suffering too.”
Borthakur believes that if treated in time, 70% children can make massive improvement. Now six years old, her son Tejas, too, is much better. “I don’t expect him to be a rocket scientist… he is just an innocent child. He is extremely popular… I am happy to see him like that,” she says.