While driving on a rainy day in 2006, Satheesh Kumar realised that the water droplets blurred the reflections on his side-view mirrors.
So the Singaporean came up with his first invention - a side-view mirror which used the onrushing air from the accelerating vehicle to blow-dry itself during a downpour.
He was then 21. Now 29, Mr Satheesh boasts dual degrees with first-class honours in both mechanical and aerospace engineering and is pursuing his PhD in Germany in a collaboration between Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
Last month, one of his creations won an international award in the TECO Green Tech Contest held in Taiwan.
The two-in-one motor for electric vehicles (EVs) combines the air-con compressor with the engine, freeing up space for bigger batteries, allowing EVs to travel further than ever before. He is also submitting three more patents which improve on its design.
Currently, his focus is on an object that almost every Singaporean owns.
Said Mr Satheesh: "The solution to the problems faced by the Government due to the ageing population can be mitigated through the use of a prevalent technology that is gaining market penetration at breakneck speed: Smartphones."
His smartphone app aims to make the elderly more independent and less reliant on caretakers.
It will help them by automatically scheduling their medicine by scanning the QR codes on medicine packets and by providing a network to find engagement programmes which they could participate in for social balance.
It also has an alarm that alerts relatives and caretakers if the elderly person has fallen over.
When tabla! asked him about his passion for inventing, Mr Satheesh said: "Inventing gives me immense pleasure as it enables me to develop a certain uniqueness and define my values, while making my mark upon this world. Moreover, this path allows me to touch the lives of millions of people."
As to what inspires him, he said: "I strictly adhere to a piece of advice imparted to me by NTU Professor Ooi Kim Tiow. He often advises me not to work on any solution that will end up as library material. Accordingly, my ideas and solutions are often driven by practicality and the ease with which it can be implemented."
He is proud of his award-winning invention, which could be commercially realised by 2016.
"The idea originated as I had two joint supervisors for my PhD (one from NTU and one from DLR). Prof Ooi is an expert and inventor for air-con compressors, while Dr Michael Schier from DLR is an expert on electric motors, hence I had to come up with a project that bridged both aspects and it then made sense for this two-in-one motor.
"To the best of my knowledge, no one else has tried this as, traditionally, the air-conditioning compressor has always been a separate mechanism ever since it was introduced in automobiles back in the '50s and '60s."
When he's not busy inventing, the bachelor, whose parents are based in Singapore and whose married sister has settled down in Australia, enjoys touring Berlin and cooking traditional Indian cuisine for his colleagues.
Said Mr Satheesh: "I learned to cook mainly by watching YouTube videos. It is much easier to learn something by watching the video demonstrations than by reading recipes from books or websites. I can prepare Indian dishes such as Chicken 65, chicken tikka, paneer masala, sambar, rasam and kesari."
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