So, what does Jugaad mean? Go around my city and you find a common answer. It simply means to make things work until they solve the purpose or deliver the expected outcome with the least possible investment. Bhopal is known for its “jugaadu” jeeps. Inheriting the love for jeeps from the royal family, Bhopali’s still have these machines from the 50’s running in prime condition. So how did they do it despite the lack of available resources? Initially, the original engine and the gearbox ran their due course. Then came mating of new age gearbox with existing engines. A few years after that came the new engine, and new differentials fitted with the original chassis and body. The result in an astonishing 50 years added to the vehicle’s life just by making these incremental investments and changes.
Authors Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja quote Jugaad as – “an improvised solution born from ingenuity” – in their book Jugaad: A Frugal, Flexible Approach to Innovation.The point I am trying to make here is that Jugaad is an innovation that either increases the value/output of an asset/product keeping the investment constant or it delivers the greater output with a small incremental investment on the original asset/ product. In either case, it provides a greater benefit or more value as compared to expected benefit or value from the original product. So why does it matter to us?
Necessity is the mother of all innovations! As an early stage start-up in the Virtual Reality space, we are forced to think of innovative ways to keep our costs low. Although we had the budget to buy action cameras, the GoPro Omni rig was definitely out of our reach. Hence, we decided to build our own rig as explained in the process and schedule below:
Day 1: We decided to order one camera and use that to build our rig. Since innovation comes with uncertainty we did not want to be in a position where we would be stuck with 6 actions cameras and no rig to support them.
Day 2 was used to establish the fact that our jugaadu rig would be able to match the industry benchmarks in terms of overlap and raw RMS score. The product specs of established players in the industry helped us in determining the size and form factor of our rig. We then proceeded to make the first side of our demo rig. Our plan was to make one side of the rig before proceeding with the other 5 sides. Eventually, we would combine all the sides to make a complete cube.
Day 3 We are out at a carpenter’s shop explaining him about the rig, its uses, and the 5 other sides that need to finish. However, we hit our first roadblock. The carpenter explained to us that the material that we wanted to use proved difficult to cut with precision. Lack of precision cutting tools further added to our problems. He also highlighted that the wooden material being used here would not be sturdy enough to hold its own weight and that of cameras combined.
Day 4: We are out in the market looking for dense wood type to work with rather than the flimsy ply board material that we previously used. Luckily, we bump into another carpenter who runs a business of making wooden objects for gifting. We explain him our requirements and he agrees to make a rig type structure for us. By this time, we all have reached a consensus that instead of putting 6 sides together it made more sense to cut 6 molds for the cameras in a solid wooden cube.
Day 5: We go back and are delighted to see the unfinished rig like structure. We ask him to go ahead with the unfinished job and by the end of the day, we have a rig like structure capable of accommodating 6 cameras. We come back to our office and one by one scrape the mold with sandpaper to give it a perfect fit. By end of day 5 we had a solid block of perfectly shaped rig.
Day 6: The next challenge was to figure out a way to put screw holder that goes between the one corner and the base plate of the tripod stand. After some 5 hours and 20 shops of lathe machine mechanics, we find our guy. He asked us to come back the next day and check on the status.
Day 7: The next morning we are delighted to see a screw holder coming out of the rig. We pay 1$ for the job and move on to the next challenge – Figuring out a way to hold the cameras in place. For this, we had initially decided to put metal clamps that would hold the camera in place. We place the order for metal clamps and decided to come back the next morning.
Day 8: The clamps are ready but on the first try we knew our solution was not going to work. The clamps did not hold the cameras firmly in place because of low tensile strength and form factor. The second problem was that the screws that we planned on using for tightening the clamp to wooden cube would eventually loosen after repeated application. Thus, we decided to drop the idea and came up with a new solution. Taking a cue from the old Jeeps, we found brass clamps and the Velcro strap to be the perfect solution for our rig. Our next investment was $1.5 on 6 brass clamps and a strip of Velcro strap. Our final investment that day was a visit to the local cobbler who charged us another Dollar for stitching the Velcro straps around the clamps.
Our rig was finally ready. 8 days and approx. $15 may come across as insignificant but it’s the achievement and satisfaction of building something from ideation to prototype that got the team excited. It encouraged them to be original, think out of the box and believe in their ideas. At THE IMMERSIVE PROJECT, we intend to carry the same values and work with the same enthusiasm, thinking and dedication in all our future endeavors and look forward to delivering more such innovative products and services in the future. Hopefully, Jugaad is here to stay just like the jeeps from the 1950’s!