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International Development Design Summit

by gmoke Thu Aug 7th, 2008 at 08:47:23 PM EST

I went to the reception for the International Development Design Summit at MIT on Wednesday, August 6.  It is the second year for this project which brings together people from all over the world to work together on what we used to call appropriate technology, affordable technology for people in the poorest countries of the world, innovative solutions for persistent problems that almost everybody can use.

This year over 50 students worked on nine different projects for four weeks.  They didn't produce papers.  They produced prototypes and presented them to an SRO capacity audience in the Bartos Theater at the Media Lab.

Their motto is "Help me and let me help you."  The idea of co-creation, collaboration between the designers and the users, is at the core of their method.  It shows.

The Pearl Millet Thresher is probably the most immediately usable of all the devices.  This is a simply a bicycle wheel stripped of its tube and tire.  The exposed spoke nuts are used to thresh the grain from the panicles of millet while leaving the florets behind and all without damaging the grain.  It is an elegant design which can be used with any existing bicycle.  More at http://milllet.wetpaint.com


Nene - the Fixable Infant Incubator is a modular incubator for remote health clinics.  The heater, humidifier, and oxygen are all made from readily available parts and can be repaired easily.  The bed itself becomes an infant carrier.

The Charcoal Crusher transforms corn cobs into charcoal through pyrolitic combustion, crushes the charcoal cobs into a powder, and forms the charred powder into briquets which can be safely burned.  Crushing the charcoal reduces the carbon monoxide when burning.


Ropeways in Ranikheth is a design in response to a specific request by a woman's group in India.  It is an aerial tramway to carry goods up and down a steep slope, replacing the method of using women as beasts of burden.  This group built a 1/6 scale model on the MIT campus.


SNAP - System for Nucleic Acid Purification is a medical testing system which allows remote clinics to test DNA samples from blood and provide quick diagnosis for a variety of diseases.

picoHydro Generator is a 400 watt hydro system which rebuilds a Toyota truck alternator, removing the rotor and replacing it with permanent magnets.  This is an optimization of an ongoing project of Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG) in Guatemala and reduces the time and cost for the transformation of the alternators.  You can contact them at IDDSPowerGen@gmail.com


The $20 Educational TV Computer uses existing low cost hardware, enhancements (a less than $25 wireless modem), and educational software to provide classroom computers for kids who would otherwise never be able to afford them.  It seems to be an elaboration of an existing Indian design.

Project M - Preventing HIV Transmission through Breast Milk uses non-woven fiber impregnated with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) as a "filter" on commmercially available nipple shield to kill the virus in the milk before it can be ingested by suckling babies.  This project will require years of testing before it can be used in human trials but the initial results are very encouraging.

The Power Pump adds a "wheel rub" bicycle generator to a treadle irrigation pump, transforming reciprocal motion into continuous motion, and produces electricity to charge batteries during the course of providing human irrigation power.  This group built two different prototypes.  However, I wonder why they didn't extend the idea back to the bicycle itself by adding a battery bay and charge controller to the wheel rub generator so that a rider could charge batteries during the day as well as providing light at night.  [This is an idea that I've been thinking about for awhile.  If only I had the technical expertise to put it together myself.]



ISSB -Interlocking Stabilizing Soil Brick is a system to build compressed soil bricks.

This initiative is part of the work that Amy Smith of D-Lab does.  She has almost single-handedly brought low tech, "poor" tech back to MIT.

cross-posted to http://www.dailykos.com and http://www.globalswadeshi.net

More such design summits?
. yes 100%
. no 0%
. not yes 0%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 5
Results | Other Polls
Interesting ideas, even if I only understand the 'poor' tech ones.  Thanks.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Aug 9th, 2008 at 06:29:14 PM EST
Excellent, this is stuff that should be going on everywhere. Good to see.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 10th, 2008 at 06:49:08 AM EST

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