Torchbearer Thursday: Team Zuppa

– Mira Venkat

Lumiere Torchbearer Thursday is a weekly initiative that aims to showcase the outstanding contributions made by organisations during the pandemic. On May 28, 2020, Lumiere welcomed the “first family of deep technology” from Chennai. The family runs Zuppa Geo Navigation Technologies, which aims to structure a Post-COVID society by enabling efficient use of resources through data driven operations and technological innovation. The bright minds behind this company and its groundbreaking innovations – Sai Pattibiram, Venkatesh Sai, and Rajashri Sai – greeted us with warm smiles.

The name “Zuppa” caught our attention. When questioned about its origins, the family had an interesting story to tell. They explained that the word is derived from the Italian word that translates to “Tuscan soup,” an amalgamation of vegetables that come together to form a wholesome dish. Similarly, Zuppa prides itself on its diverse range of technologies. They had decided to jump on the bandwagon of naming their company after a food item, a popular trend at the time of Zuppa’s founding.

Zuppa’s journey is truly unique. They have long specialised in drone technology, specifically drone autopilot and flight control. Mr. Sai narrated that Zuppa invented their drone technology just when a ban on the use of civilian drones was enforced, leaving them with the relevant technology but no market to cater to. Nevertheless, the foundational principles of geolocation (GPS tagging) and geonavigation (the act of flying the drone) continued to guide the company as they reengineered their technology to be applied in other fields.

Soon, Zuppa began developing vehicle tracking systems, further diversifying into temperature monitoring solutions for cold chain vehicles and cold storage. The team’s rapid adaptability and zest for innovation eventuated in yet another application of its core competency upon the onset of the pandemic. This time, Zuppa has harnessed its technology to create social change.

With just a smartphone mounted on a selfie stick-like contraption, the Zuppa application enables one to monitor their body temperature and SpO2 (oxygen saturation) levels to detect symptoms of infection. Using cloud computing, this biological data – along with data regarding user identity and the date, time, and location of the scan – is stored in a database. If a high temperature is detected, the individual is directed to nearby hospitals with available beds using real-time allocation. Currently, the Zuppa application has been adopted by companies and factories who use it to trace movement of employees, monitor vitals, and identify clusters of the virus.

Zuppa’s differentiated approach to inefficiencies resulting from asymmetric information (for example, inadequate information about available hospital beds) ensures that a crucial societal need is met. It eliminates redundancy associated with manually recording data, ensures safety due to the contactless procedure, and is accessible to all.

When asked about the future, Team Zuppa was optimistic about the lifechanging potential of their software. They were hopeful that it will be adopted on a national scale to prevent further deterioration of public health once the lockdown is lifted. There is scope to extend this platform to clinics and hospitals, where doctors can constantly maintain a personalized log of the patient’s temperature and oxygen levels. Zuppa’s technology could possibly eradicate the need for unnecessary visits to the doctor, serving as a bridge between doctors and patients who can rely on telemedicine instead. Furthermore, partnerships with e-commerce companies could optimise the safety of deliveries for the customer and employee alike.

Team Zuppa’s session was incredibly inspiring. We were left marvelling at their determination, dedication, and rapid ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. The family’s passion for technology and community complement each other to deliver an extremely impactful resource to the nation. At Lumiere, we are enthralled by this revolutionary development. We are excited to witness this Torchbearer Trio light up the way for efficient post-lockdown management.

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