About smudges, ink, Altoids box and love.

This is not an attempt to win over the pollution. Just a minor itch that led me to build something cool from observations arising from Nostalgia of the days back in India :)

Nostalgia 0 - Just after you're born. ( Suggested by Kunal)

If you're born in India chances are that your grandma will take some steps to protect you from wicked spirits by smudging kajal onto your eyes. The technique to make kajal is old. Its carbon deposited from burning a low fidelity oil.(mustard etc.)

Nostalgia 1- Getting around

I was once day dreaming about the awesome days we spent back in Bikaner, a small city in the west of Rajasthan. It reminded me of the heat, travelling in sweat inducing autorickshaws while we used to do our experiments with building our Multi-touch table with low tech techniques(ref. Rahul, Sudhanshu and Vivek). The month of June there was full of sweat, with unburnt smoke rising from unending tur-tur-ing of autorickshaws blackening our skin.
Kote gate

Nostalgia 2

I used to spend some of my summers in a village 30 kms from Mathura where I would wait for my grandmother to cook some delicious MaalPua (pancakes in syrup) on her earthen chulha fueled by wooden twigs.
Desi Chulha

The evenings were spent under a lamp preparing for exams that I'll have to write after the holidays at my school back in Delhi. The beautiful lamps were placed exactly at the same spot daily, and the soot from them would slowly go up and blacken the walls, creating artsy designs.

Nostalgia 3

I'd come home after travelling in DTC/BlueLine buses in Delhi. The pollution setting on the skin mixed with summer sweat would make my mother put my white shirts to wash everyday.


The above reminisces of memories -  the pollution from the bus, the soot from the lamps, and the autorickshaws that run on diesel - have one thing in common. Black marks.

I was discussing the idea with Amna, Harshit, Pragun, Rahul and Nathan, what if we could harvest the unburnt carbon from the surroundings and re-purpose it to a low tech ink.

The project is on. We're working on a layer that allows particles 2.5um-8um in size which would let soot or smoke to be captured inside a tiny harvester.  All of it sits within an Altoids mints box.

Some schematics. Not to scale. If you've got any ideas please let me know. All contributors will be properly credited.