Technology for a Cause
High tech gadgets developed for the developing world.
An Phung is a multimedia journalist based in New York City. She has contributed to NYTimes.com, Patch.com and City Limits. She also spent time reporting in Indonesia where she covered stories about the country's growing illicit drug trade. An graduated from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism with a concentration in international reporting.
Follow me on Twitter @anhaiphung
The XO 3.0 tablet was one of the most talked about gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. The tablet has a hand cranked accessory that powers the device which can run on Linux or Android. This is helpful for children living in rural areas of developing countries where there is no electricity. The tablet was created by One Laptop per Child, a non-profit organization that also created a low-cost laptop in 2008 for kids in poor countries.
But they aren’t the only ones developing sensible and affordable technology to empower those living in impoverished countries. Here are some other tech savvy innovators who made the news recently for creating tools that promote good health, economic stability and education for those who need it most. Can you think of any to add to this list?
Embrace - This non-profit developed an infant body warmer with a non-electricity heat source for babies born in countries that lack modern medicine and electricity for incubators. By providing affordable solutions to hypothermia, they “will save the lives of roughly 100,000 babies, and prevent lifelong illness in 800,000 babies who would otherwise have grown up sickly.”
AppLab - AppLab, an organization funded by the Grameen Foundation, uses communication technology to provide real time agricultural, health information and other useful news to help people in places like Uganda and Indonesia combat poverty and disease. “For example, through a simple text message a farmer can receive tips on treating crop diseases, learn local market prices, or get advice on preventing malaria.”
NCR - Cash register and ATM machine manufacturer is developing an easy-to-use pillar ATM machine for people in countries with high illiteracy rates both in language and in finance. “The pillar ATM’s form and function are the result of considerable socioeconomic research in low- and middle-income countries—including how and when residents in rural areas use money, the utility of ATMs to people whose clothing often lacks pockets and the practicality of delivering modern banking services to a population literally unable to read the fine print,” according to Scientific American.
WAKAWAKA - A compact solar powered LED lamp that doubles as a mobile phone charger designed for those living in the developing world. The creators are currently soliciting funding on Kickstarter and their goal is to manufacture the lamp at such a low cost that they’d be able to sell it to people in rural areas for less than ten dollars.
Lifestraw - Europe-based Vestergaard Frandsen, creators of disease control products made Lifestraw, a small plastic tube that functions as a portable water filter to protect users against water borne illnesses. It costs five dollars to make. Their stated goal for their Carbon for Water program is to distribute 900,000 LifeStraw Family water filters to approximately 90 percent of all households in the Western Province of Kenya. This translates to safe drinking water for four million people.
SunSaluter - The creator of this product is probably the youngest in this round-up. Nineteen-year-old Princeton student Eden Full created a solar panel that rotates to face the sun, which increases the panels’ efficiency by 40 percent. The technology uses coils that expand and contract according to outdoor conditions which means no electricity is needed to power the panels. Full was the winner of Mashable’s Startup for Good Challenge.
Long hidden under trees, it's utterly massive
Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Christmas has many pagan and secular traditions that early Christians incorporated into this new holiday.
- Christmas was heavily influenced by the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
- The historical Jesus was not born on December 25th as many contemporary Christians believe.
- Many staple Christmas traditions predated the festival and were tied into ancient pagan worship of the sun and related directly to the winter solstice.
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