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Sputnique: Solar-school in a backpack

Sputnique is solar-powered internet connected multimedia classroom in a backpack that educate children in the most remote areas.

Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
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What problem does your innovation solve?

There are setups like refugee camp, temporary settlements where a school structure is often not possible. In coastal areas like Bangladesh, where natural disaster is frequent, schools get destroyed or being shut down for months. There are 40 thousands primary schools in Bangladesh alone that are located in off-grid areas. Sputnique - a solar run backpack with internet connected multimedia classroom set up can bring the school right at the children's neighborhood with low operating cost.

Explain your innovation.

Sputnique allows teachers, educators and development professionals working with education to provide access to high quality education to the children located in most remote locations. It’s a completely solar-powered and internet connected multimedia setup that allows to take class remotely and take online class from another place. This an all-in-one solution that has the capacity to connect multiple classrooms or schools even through slow or weak internet with amazing user convenience and ability to respond to technical problems on real time. It has a flexible design so that organizations can adjust and modify the system according to their need. It helps organizations to respond to education problem during crisis or emergency situation when setting physical schools and getting teachers to take class regularly are difficult. Sputnique offers B2B sale (to organizations, NGOs, non-profits, Govt. etc) that makes it sustainable and with scale there are opportunities when it can offer services in B2C strategy (directly to schools). Sputnique is not a product just for education during emergency. But it will be used for regular times in other projects like healthcare, agriculture or other development project that involves training, capacity building, awareness. It helps organizations to reduce their human resource cost to train large number of people, help them to do it faster and without much logistical problem. That will also allow us to scale and sustain.

Who benefits?

Sputnique empowers organizations who work with children and education in delivering high quality education at a lower cost. For example, if your organization is running a school or education project in a rural off-grid area, Sputnique will help you to set up solar-run multimedia set up. You don’t have to worry about energy and all the logistical problems that you have to think of. With 10-15 Sputniques in different schools, you can connect all of them and take ‘live’ class centrally using just one teacher. The operational cost of running schools will be greatly reduced. In similar way, this can be utilized after disaster and during emergency situation for example in refugee shelter. Currently 10 Sputniques are in operation with 2 organizations helping more than 4000 children to get access to quality education in different villages of Bangladesh. We are planning to scale it up to 300 villages/schools in next 2-3 years in Bangladesh and outside Bangladesh.

How is your innovation unique?

A similar product like Sputnique was developed by UNICEF called Mobi-Case few years ago. But technologically and operationally it had several drawbacks. It was bulky, with no internet connectivity, projector and screen can't be used in open space and lacked user convenience. Sputnique offers an internet connected system that allows organizations to run 40-50 schools at slow internet connection in open daylight. Sputnique has a flexible design and can be used for different types of develop projects - agriculture, healthcare, education etc. Other initiatives tried to develop a product, but in Sputnique we developed a system based on human-centered design to solve the challenge of providing high quality education experience to the children. We already sold 12 units to Sesame Street Bangladesh and American Center. Other non-profits (Bangladesh & abroad) are already showing strong interest get our solution for their different projects; another indicator that we have a great solution.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

One of our concern is to make the system cheaper to make it more affordable. Current manufacturing cost is $1500 that will reduce by 30% if we go for automated assembling process. Sputnique already works in slow internet connection, but it will be great to develop a process that stores and air classes once the internet comes back if any disruption occurs. Partnership with key organizations like UNICEF, other INGOs and donors will help us to scale. With Sputnique we are confident about the technology part, and we need to adapt different models for implementation of various types of projects. We are currently working on two projects - one with schools and one with farmers. Exposure to more projects will enable us to find best methods.

Tell us more about you.

Sputnique is a product developed by Light of Hope. It’s the largest education-based social enterprise in Bangladesh. The core team members who developed Sputnique are all electrical engineers graduating from universities in Bangladesh and Europe. Light of Hope is a Spark* International alumni and one of the growth entrepreneurs of Bangladesh. Spark* International is the impact arm of YGAP – a social enterprise accelerator programme based in Australia. Check out here: www.lightofhopebd.org

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

In natural disaster like cyclone, flood or earthquake the recovery period is often very long. In war or internal dispute, we’ve seen huge displacement and refugee centers grows. Schooling and education for children largely disrupted in these settings. Moreover, in rural remote areas quality schooling is a big issue with lack of electricity and inadequate quality teachers. In these situations, Sputnique can offer low cost solution to organizations to do large scale education project.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Bangladesh, South East Asia, Africa are some areas where the product will have the biggest impact. We are already piloting in Bangladesh. The hardware setup doesn't need to be changed for different locations. But localized educational contents need to be pre-loaded to the system. Implementing organizations can pre-load contents after purchasing the product based on their need. We will ensure user training and after sale services.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

Light of Hope is working with over 100 schools and more than 10 development organizations working with education. It is the fastest growing education social enterprise with more than 30,000 children impacted. We’ve partnership with Seseame Street Bangladesh, Save the Children Bangladesh, Dnet, Plan International etc. We are currently rolling a project with ACI (largest agro-business in Bangladesh) to set up farmer schools where Sputnique will be used to train local farmers.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

The entire Light of Hope team (total 12 people) has got an amazing mix of people from education, engineering and development sector. Wali, CEO, Light of Hope has 7+ years of experience working in education and renewable energy. Maruf & Anik – two other members of the Sputnique engineering team have over 11 years of experience together in working with product development and renewable energy. Raka Abedin, VP, Education, has 17 years of experience working in education sector.

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Organization Location

We are registered in Bangladesh. Official address: House 5/12, Block D, Lalmatia, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Website

Light of Hope website: www.lightofhopebd.org Sputnique website: http://www.sputnique.xyz/

How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

We recently launched our upgraded version of Sputnique to potential customers in a formal inauguration programme. 10 Sputniques are in the field for last 5 months where Sesame Street Bangladesh is using them in different schools. Feedback we got so far are great. 1. A low cost version of the product 2. Very good training on the product operation and maintenance for the end user 3. Flexible solution (some organizations may not need all the components, for example speaker or the solar panel)

Who will implement this Idea?

Sputnique has already a team of 5 dedicated to bring this product to the customers (organizations). They are all based in Bangladesh. Since Sputnique is a product developed by Light of Hope, it will get marketing and other supports. Sputnique is currently being used by Sesame Street Bangladesh. Based on the feedback, they will take more. We are in conversation with few other organizations to start using Sputnique for their different projects. We've got a small grant (USD 6250) from EMK Center (US Embassy affiliated center in Bangladesh) to develop two upgraded Sputnique and launched them.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

1. The end users of Sputnique is the field-level staff of different organizations. They need to check if everything is working before they start the class or training. One or two things might not work sometimes. They need to talk to someone to fix the problem. So a 24/7 'support hotline' will be great. The end beneficiaries are students or adults who will get education or training. If the training is through online, they might face some connection problems that might result in call dropping or disrupted audio or video. 2. Connecting 30-40 Sputnique through online on a daily basis for one education project or training project. After sale support to all the end users of Sputnique will be another system-level challenge.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Light of Hope is a social enterprise. Sputnique currently offers B2B service to set up and run education projects to non-profits, NGOs, donors. We are already in operation breakeven. More partnerships and projects will help us to scale. We already got calls from Australia, Kenya and UK to try our product for their different projects. Partnerships is the key for our future expansion. For example, Sesame Street Bangladesh is already using Sputnique and gave good review. They told us if the project is successful in Bangladesh, they are going to promote it to 147 countries where they operate.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

Impact: By 2020, we aim to train and educate more than 250,000 children, adolescent and adults through Sputnique in collaboration with our partner organizations. Question: How to we assemble and manufacture the final product with the highest quality at an affordable cost in Bangladesh or probably in China? How to we develop large scale support mechanism to hundreds of different organizations using the product? How do we on-board our partners efficiently?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

Currently we are looking into number of Sputnique being deployed in the field by our partner organizations and number of beneficiaries getting the support for that. For example, 10 Sputniques are being used to support about 5000 children in 20 different schools. In future, we would like to measure schooling or training hours, number of beneficiaries, topics being covered, money saved (from logistics and extra human resource for training) by partner organizations for using Sputnique.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

1. Partnership with more organizations: Understand their projects and how Sputnique can bring values. 2. Deploy Sputnique in their projects and measure outputs & outcomes. 3. Develop an small assembling facility with a good supply chain. 4. Look for opportunities to expand beyond Bangladesh to neighboring countries.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $50,000 and $100,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Between 5-10 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are seeking registration in order to implement in additional countries.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
  • Business Model Support
  • Program/Service Design

47 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Muhammad Zabir
Team

One of the best education supportive novation i have ever seen. Will be very useful to spread Education.

Spam
Photo of M A Greenstein
Team

Waliullah Bravo! A smart and smile solution to a complex problem. Your team concept reminds me of the Embrace Infant Warmer. And that you have cottage industries forming out of the product, speaks to the intelligence of scaling and distribution. You should give talks in MBA programs!

Spam
Photo of Vanessa Sore
Team

Hi there,
Great initiative.
I am interested to know if you have considered as part of your business strategy to implement in other countries outside of Bangladesh? And if so, how you would engage your partnerships to assist? Furthermore, what countries would you envisage would benefit from your idea most, ie. what country would you tackle next?

Moreover, you mentioned your backpacks are on the expensive side. Have you considered a concept behind 'shared' backpacks, or you feel your 1:1 approach is most effective?

Cheers,
Vanessa S

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Vanessa, thanks for asking. Yes, we do have plan for international expansion. There is no specific priority in selecting any particular country; it depends on potential partnership with local organization in that country. African countries and South Asian countries are our natural priority where we think this product will make greater impact.

We do have plan to come up with an economy version. But you suggested an interesting concept about 'shared' backpacks. We can give that a try.

Feel free to reach out to me at bhuiyan.waliullah@gmail.com. Thanks.

Spam
Photo of Rasal Lia
Team

Thanks for the enthusiastic idea.
Your innovation can solve the energy and Internet connectivity problems of the institutions in emergency situations, though it's rarely seen in coastal that schools need internet or power supply to operate schooling. Destroyed classrooms, transport and lack of pure water are some major problems the education suppliers face.
However, do your innovation suggest a one-way communication system? How the students will connect to your school? -the children are in emergency situation.

Can you mention any location where you have tested your idea and the degree to which your idea has given better educational outcome? What will be the implementing body in emergency situations?

Your innovation could give better outcome if there are no emergency needs of safety, food and transport, if the beneficiaries have technology to connect remotely and if no coordination with national curriculum is needed. It would be great if the feedback system addresses the issues.

Thank you

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Rasal, thanks for asking some great questions.
Sputnique allows both way communication between the students and teachers. Although students might be sitting in remote area taking the class they can ask questions and teachers will listen and respond on real time.
We've tested in 20 Bangladeshi villages. They are currently being used by Sesame Street Bangladesh and using them in different schools to show awareness videos. Organizations, non-profits, NGOs working in emergency situation can have the product from us. So they will be using them either during emergency or in regular period.

Organizations, schools or any other project implementer can load their contents if they want to use them remotely or the trainer or teacher can directly take session or class.

Spam
Photo of Rasal Lia
Team

Dear Waliullah,
I'm asking another question. What do you suggest for better education, if an organization want to ensure education for the children among Rohigya refugees at Chittagong - for road mapp- how they should start and what factors to be ensured?
Thank you.

https://challenges.openideo.com/goto/challenge/education-emergencies/bring-out-the-children-from-dependancy-to-make-a-good-i-dea-improving-delivery-of-and-access-to-education-through-technology-workable

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Low cost community schools like BRAC schools can be a good option. Online-based education would be costly and difficult to manage at this time. But during the rehabilitation stage, small permanent schools can be set up. Hiring good local teachers (preferably the school teachers among Rohinga community) and provide creative learning materials for joyful learning for children should be the priority.

Spam
Photo of Malik
Team

Hello Waliullah,
this is a very innovative concept.
The only question I have is how is this powered if not by solar power?

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Malik, thanks for the question. Sputnique can be charged both by normal AC power (you can connect it to any multiplug or pin) and solar.

Spam
Photo of Dave Hughes
Team

Hi Waliullah, this is a great idea! My name is David Hughes and I am the Project Director for the Bendigo Inventor Awards.

Now in our 7th year, the Bendigo Inventor awards have as our focus inventions that address needs in the Emergency Services and Disaster Management space, and we offer a AUD$10,000 prize for the winning entry. The Bendigo Inventor Awards has also created an environment for inventors to obtain support for their ideas by bringing together a coalition of partners with the knowledge, skills and networks to accelerate the progression of ideas from concept through to commercialisation. Major Program Partners include Engineers Australia who are providing technical feedback, KPMG who are offering advice on commercial viability and the path to commercialisation and Red Cross, who are providing their perspective on the relevance of many inventions to disaster relief efforts. Our judging panel also contains representatives from Emergency Management Victoria, who are able to provide similar feedback on the applicability of inventions to the emergency services.

I believe your idea would be a fantastic entry into the awards. Applying is easy and can be done through our website www.bendigoinventorawards.com.au/apply. Simply select the category that your invention applies to – ‘Concept’ or ‘Product and Prototype’, and answer some questions about your invention. All judges are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so your idea is protected. Entries close 5pm Friday 29th September 2017 AEST.

I very much look forward to seeing your invention go on to great success, and hope we are able to assist you in enabling that to happen. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch on the phone number above, or via my email at dhughes@bebendigo.com.au.

Regards,
David Hughes
Project Director
Bendigo Inventor Awards

Spam
Photo of Paulo Manoel Dias
Team

A very interesting proposal. It would be interesting to explain the maintenance of the equipments used in the kit. Other issue is to make more clear the type of Internet connection used, and how to use in case of no connection.

Spam
Photo of Sharon Lin
Team

This is a really clever solution. Best of luck!

Spam
Photo of Jafrina Lamia
Team

Wow

Incredible

Would love to see you guys as one of the finalists

Spam
Photo of Balint Katona
Team

@Waliullah Bhuiyan 

Hi Waliullah,

just fyi, you might be interested

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkfLVEwuRFQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QeNbw53dmY&feature=youtu.be

Best,
Balint

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Balint, great video. Thanks for sharing them. Do you know anyone whom we can communicate and collaborate?

Spam
Photo of Kate McAllister
Team

Hi Waliullah
This is a fantastic piece of kit! We're developing mobile classrooms and teacher resources in backpacks for Crisis Classroom. Would be great to talk about how we might collaborate.
Darren@crisisclassroom.com

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Kate, I already sent a mail to Darren. Thanks for getting back to us. We will love to work in collaboration and help to solve your challenges.

Spam
Photo of Sabbir Rochi
Team

Best of Luck!

Spam
Photo of Nousin Afsana
Team

Advance congratulations... hoping you will get that...best wishes for your team

Spam
Photo of Bipasha Ahmed
Team

Best wishes!

Spam
Photo of Sultana Bashi
Team

Innovative idea. Best of luck...

Spam
Photo of Shaila Nusrat
Team

Brilliant wishing you good luck.

Spam
Photo of Nazmul Islam Kochi
Team

Brilliant and very innovative idea!!! It will be one of the best things for education sector.

Spam
Photo of Fahim Hossain
Team

one of the amazing product on education sector

Spam
Photo of S. M. Haque
Team

Excellent profuct

Spam
Photo of Sunny Karim
Team

Amazing product !!!!!

Spam
Photo of Tasnuva Ahmed
Team

Best of luck!

Spam
Photo of Tanzia Islam
Team

great idea!

Spam
Photo of Abdullah Al Mahmud
Team

A globally scaleable innovation. Carry on guys.

Spam
Photo of Oporajita Taposhi
Team

A magical innovation

Spam
Photo of Alessandra Hartkopf
Team

Waliullah Bhuiyan  thank you for answering my questions! It sounds like you have a great plan in action for deploying these tools in the field.

Spam
Photo of Kim Kimosop
Team

Bhuiyan, I have a similar idea but mine is simplistic in every sense; a projector that stores learning content an entire school term, has rechargeable battery and the package comes with a projector sheet. What type of projector do you use (specs) and what is the cost of 1 sputnique? You can have a look at my idea at https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/education-emergencies/ideas/instant-mobile-class

Spam
Photo of Adekunle Jinadu
Team

Smart. Maybe you guys can collaborate?

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Kim, thanks for writing. Saw your project. There are several areas that we focused on to develop Sputnique:
1. Complete energy independence (You can go to the most remote place and stay there for months; but still can enjoy unlimited classes with schools or in the community).
2. Suitable for larger audience: It has sound system, projection screen (works both in day and night), microphone etc.
3. It has it's own network: You can take 'live' class in 20-30 different locations with 20-30 Sputniques at the same time using your smartphone.

We are using projector that has 3 hours battery backup and with 800 lumen. After 3 hours, it can be powered from our own battery bank that is charged from the solar panel.

Spam
Photo of Alessandra Hartkopf
Team

I like this idea of bringing education to children rather than expecting children to travel great distances to their closest school or teacher. I think this tool could be very valuable in maintaining a young person's education despite disarray. How do you envision training new users? Would you have support staff available to dispatch to troubleshoot units that were not working? How many years does each Sputnique last for?

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Alessandra, thanks for writing. Usually we give training to the new users before they take it to the field. Support is available for users if there is any trouble-shoot. It's still not clear for how many years it can continuously give services since it's a new product. But each component has different life cycle. For example, the projector is for 10,000 hours, the solar panel is for 20 years and so on. But we give the clients one year warranty service for free.

Spam
Photo of Bob Achgill
Team

Hello Waliullah Bhuiyan,

You might consider adding the free His Hands Reader mother tongue literacy videos able to run on low end user smart phones as your as a means to extend school learning when Internet is offline or not economical.

It's inclusive synergistic strategy of Hearing helping Deaf for rural settings where access to interpreting resources is not available will also expand literacy reach to both Hearing and Deaf.

Adding His Hands Reader to your existing strategy expands schooling to include offline literacy lesson function as well as serve the Deaf who are usually more adversely affected by war and natural diaster. And young mother's can continue literacy lessons at home using the family smart phone.

Volunteers have added mother tongues and hand signs for these literacy videos in Cameroon, Afghanistan, Jordon, China and Ethiopia.

Here is some detail about the growing His Hands Reader volunteer literacy initiative...

Imagine a time when every Hearing and Deaf child can learn to read from the smart phone in their village...hearing and seeing their mother tongue and hand sign on the app?

The time is now!

Do you know someone who would like to volunteer to add their mother tongue or hand signs to the free His Hands Reader literacy system?

The Www.HisHandsReader.org mother tongue literacy videos with hand sign assist opens a path for total inclusion of deaf children among hearing. As hearing children use the mother tongue literacy videos with hand sign assist they naturally learn the means to communicate with deaf playmates.

And don't over look that the Www.HisHandsReader.org mother tongue literacy videos help Hearing children in the Multi lingual Education classroom.

It takes only 30 hours to add your mother tongue. Here are the instructions to volunteer...
http://www.hishandsreader.org/add-my-language-odk-collect.html

Here is an example of the result of volunteers in Jordan who added their local business and mother tongue languages and local hand signs...
http://www.hishandsreader.org/1jo-jos-arb-ajp.html

Thanks!

Bob Achgill
Www.HisHandsReader.org
Helping Deaf and Hearing learn to read so they can read His Word

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here is a little more detail...

Would you like to volunteer to add your hand signs or mother tongue to Www.HisHandsReader.org??

These are the ONLY qualifications needed to add your Mother Tongue language or hand signs to the Www.HisHandsReader.org :
1) Native speaker of your mother tongue or hand signs.
2) Read and write your mother tongue (not needed for adding hand signs)
3) Know English well enough to translate the 1742 basic Words to your MT or hand signs
4) Access to Android phone to use the HHR app to add your language. (1.5GB RAM, 3 GB free space)
5) total 30 hours to add your text with voice or video your hand signs.

Spam
Photo of Oporajita Taposhi
Team

An amazing product which we use in our every session of @Teachers Time

Spam
Photo of Tijul Islam Anik
Team

How portable the Sputnique is! Excellent product. :)

Spam
Photo of Muntasir Mahmud
Team

Amazing stuff

Spam
Photo of Maruf Islam
Team

Innovation at its best. Sputnique is the future of multimedia classrooms.

Spam
Photo of Anika Rahman
Team

ITS FABULOUS!!! :)

Spam
Photo of Fahim Hossain
Team

splendid job guys ............

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Thanks. :)

Spam
Photo of Nabil Nil
Team

Wow its very easy to use!!!

Spam
Photo of Waliullah Bhuiyan
Team

Yes it is. Actually if you can charge your mobile phone, you can use a Sputnique. It's that much convenient.