Big Innovations for the Small Worlds

Technology is a good thing. It is responsible for pouring good deeds out in the world. Apparently, its absence is felt more in the poor and developing worlds. When economy is in a bad shape and resources like energy and materials are scarce, the simplest technology comes out to be a better choice.  Here’s a list of a few simple innovations that are making a big difference in people’s lives in the developing worlds:


A depressing number of people in the world lack regular access to clean drinking water. In places like sub-Saharan Africa, time lost gathering water and suffering from water-borne diseases is limiting people’s true potential. Education is lost to sickness. Economic development is lost while people merely try to survive.

One of the tools for fighting the transmission of water-borne disease is the LifeStraw, a simple water filter that cleans the water as it is sucked up from the polluted source. The LifeStraw is small enough to be easily carried and can be shared by family and friends. Patent no. US8852439 B2 explains the technology in detail.

Iodine coated bindis

About 350 million people are at risk for iodine deficiency in India. Iodine deficiency could lead to harmful conditions like hypothyroidism, goiter, an increased risk for breast cancer, and brain damage.

Grey for Good, a charitable branch of the Singapore-based Grey Group, offered a solution to the problem, it needed to be innovative in combating this very real public health risk. What they noticed is this: many Indian women wear a bindi, or a small red dot in the center of the forehead, for cultural or religious reasons. They came up with the idea of coating each bindi in iodine creating a “patch” which can deliver up to 150 micrograms of iodine through the skin over the course of eight hours, which is the recommended amount of iodine for women. The patent was filed in the year 2011 and it still has been granted yet.


SunSaluter, winner of the Startups for Good challenge, aims to bring solar panels to villages in the developing world that have never had access to electricity. While solar energy is a hot topic across the world, its expense has prevented deeper penetration.

Eden Full, a mechanical engineering undergraduate at Princeton University, developed solar panels that optimize energy collection as they rotate to face the sun for as much time as possible each day. The system costs just $10 and uses 40% fewer panels than typical solar energy, thanks to its rotations. US20140124015 A1 throws some light on the invention in detail.

Embrace Warmer

The Embrace infant warmer is a miniature sleeping bag for infants which addresses the key challenge of preventing hypothermia in newborns with low birth weights. It is estimated that approximately 15 million children are born every year that are not able to complete 37 weeks of gestation. Over one million of these premature babies die each year before even being able to complete their first month. Unlike traditional incubators, it allows physical contact between mother and child, promoting the development of a strong maternal bond. It is an intuitive device that can be reused, sterilized and repaired locally.

Embrace infant warmer is made up of a wax-like change material (US 20150066119 A1) which requires access to an AC power source for only 25 minutes. It can be repaired locally, sterilized and reused. Priced at almost USD 150, less than 1% of the price of a standard incubator, Embrace warmer is indeed a boon to go give young ones an equal chance at life.

ROTOR – Generate your own electricity

The ROTOR Swimming power plant allows communities with no access with electricity to harness the energy from river’s current. The objective behind the invention is to supply electricity to people in rural areas without connection to an electricity grid, whether temporarily or permanent. It uses low-cost technology and can be constructed by almost everyone in an easy manner. In comparison to small PV cells and wind turbines, the stream turbine has the advantage of producing energy 24/7 without the need for expensive battery storage. The ROTOR has an advantage of producing energy 24×7 as opposed to wind turbines or PV cells.

A vertical axis water wheel is mounted in the centre of the tire tube. Due to the flow of the river, the water wheel spins like a turbine and the dynamo generates this kinetic energy into electric.

Photonic Fence

Over 200 million cases of malaria alone are reported every year resulting in over 600,000 deaths due to mosquito-borne diseases.

To address this issue, Bellevue’s Global Good and its parent company Intellectual Ventures have agreed upon a licensing agreement with a Florida based Light Science Group Corporation for an amazing technology involving a device that zaps mosquitoes with laser to send them to their demise. This weapon is capable of killing dozens of mosquitoes within seconds using a combination of cameras, mirrors and lasers.

It is so precise that it could even tell if it’s a male mosquito or a female mosquito as it’s the female mosquitoes that suck the blood and carry diseases. The device could also be programmed to protect crops from insects. The company is trying very hard to make it highly cost-effective to introduce it in places like Africa and other developing parts of the world.

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