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.
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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.
These modern-day hermits can sometimes spend decades without ever leaving their apartments.
- A hikikomori is a type of person in Japan who locks themselves away in their bedrooms, sometimes for years.
- This is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, likely due to rigid social customs and high expectations for academic and business success.
- Many believe hikikomori to be a result of how Japan interprets and handles mental health issues.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
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