Janhavi Joshi & Nupura Kirloskar: The right vibes

BleeTech Innovations has built India's first wearable aid for the hearing impaired

Salil Panchal
Published: Feb 8, 2018 10:37:16 AM IST
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 10:52:49 AM IST

Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.

g_103277_janhavi_joshi_and_nupura_kirloskar_280x210.jpgJanhavi Joshi (left) and Nupura Kirloskar
Image: Aditi Tailang for Forbes India; Location Courtesy: Shizusan Shophouse & Bar, High Street Phoenix; Styling: Eshaa Amiin & Team; Wardrobe Courtesy: Nupura: Dress - Mango; Overcoat - Mango; Heels - Charles And Keith; Jewellery - Edesigns; Janhavi: Suit & Shirt - Mango; Shoes- Steve Madden

Janhavi Joshi | 25
Nupura Kirloskar | 25
Co-founders, BleeTech Innovations

The prelude to Janhavi Joshi’s and Nupura Kirloskar’s social entrepreneurial journey came in 2014. As students of industrial design at Pune’s MIT Institute of Design then, they had developed the prototype of a wearable product that helped hearing-impaired dancers feel music through vibrations.

Buoyed by the positive response, in 2015, they founded BleeTech Innovations, which now manufactures what it claims is India’s first wearable—a watch branded BleeWatch—for the hearing impaired. “Hearing aids could be stigma for some, but not a wearable,” says Kirloskar.

BleeWatch can record sounds like a doorbell, fire alarm, a baby’s cry, a pressure cooker whistle or a dog’s bark into a connected app. This is notified to the wearer with unique vibration patterns, colours and icons. The watch can also send a help signal to five emergency numbers.

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A basic version, priced around ₹2,500, and a smartwatch version priced at ₹5,000-7,000 is set for commercial launch. The pilot form was distributed through the charity EnAble India, Red Cross School for the Deaf and Yuva Association of the Deaf.

BleeTech’s investors are Social Alpha and IIT-Bombay; it has also received an R&D grant from Nasscom. “We were looking for innovators who could serve the bottom of the pyramid… and BleeTech fitted the bill,” says Dhruv Pandey, part of the portfolio and innovation division at Social Alpha.

BleeTech also runs AskBlee a platform that provides video content in Indian sign language, and Blee TV, an entertainment and education platform for the hearing impaired.

Click here to view the full Forbes India 30 Under 30 list

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(This story appears in the 16 February, 2018 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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