Rains might no longer play spoilsport at marquee match-ups if a city innovator’s design for a retractable awning over stadia takes root.
G. Krupa Vikas Sukumar, an Andhra Pradesh native settled in the city, has patented the design for a retractable wind-resistant awning for outdoor area, offering water protection during matches, which will enable sporting events to continue without being abandoned.
The technology involves a bubble sheet that can be raised on top of the ground, with means for detachment and assembling. The whole design is detachable and it can be assembled on the ground the day before the match, based on the weather forecast.
The suspended bubble sheet does not seal with the ground, instead would be suspended above the stadia at an approximate height of 80 m.
The additional structure on the circumference resists the air entry. The outer ring structure on the top of the floodlights needs to be erected the previous night of the match day in the event of a rain forecast.
Only the bubble sheet needs to be rolled in, inflated and floated up, which should not take more than about 10 minutes, says the innovator.
“This design is feasible for all grounds and stadia. There would be no major architectural alignments to be made on the ground for this design,” says Mr. Sukumar, currently working in Dubai.
Registered with PCT
The project, which was mentored by the Centre for Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR), College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai, has been registered with the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and has passed the three criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability last month.
According to the CIPR, the bubble sheet has two segments — an inner segment and an outer segment.
The bubble sheet is filled with helium/hydrogen gas with a diameter of 40 metres and a height of 6 metres in the inner circular segment and gradually thinning to the end forming the outer circle segment thereby aiding the bubble sheet to move upward and cover the entire outdoor area.
The inner segment is connected with gas tubes which provide means to fill gas (helium/hydrogen). The pole lights of the outdoor area are lit automatically by means of rain sensors thereby providing proper illumination. The pole is erected at the required height along the circumference with equal distance.
“We observed that the product would have wide coverage in other countries and therefore CIPR guided the filing of an international patent application,” said M. Kantha Babu, CIPR Director.
When the innovator approached CIPR in 2018, the first step was to ensure that it satisfied the criteria of Novelty, Inventive Step and Industrial Application as per Indian Patent Procedures.
Initially, CIPR carried out exhaustive search using free and paid databases.
After reviewing the merits of similar systems from all over the world and detailed deliberations, the innovative idea for retractable wind resistant awning for outdoor area for water protection during matches emerged.
The team also deliberated on how rain can affect the matches generally across sports/games and how it sometimes skews the results.
Thereafter, a prototype was made with the help of Ajlon Technologies, a Chennai-based technology solutions company.
“The design can increase the number of events held in a calendar year. Also, given the high stakes involved in modern sports, including telecast rights and commercial revenues, a rain-marred game not only robs the audience of entertainment but also entails huge losses,” said Mr. Sukumar.
Rainwater harvesting can be a huge added benefit in addition to the job potential it could open up across manufacturing, project management, automations and controls and safety applications, he feels.
Currently, Mr. Sukumar is in talks with a US-based company with 30 years of experience with production of awnings and canopies.
“They are confident they can implement this design worldwide after testing in real-life dimensions. We are closing in to make a license agreement,” said Mr. Sukumar.