Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest of differences in this world.
But when technology is added into that equation, then we start seeing some very real, grand-scale change taking place. Leveraging new and innovative technology to help meet countless basic needs in third world nations has benefited millions of lives; in fact, this is exactly what the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference has been doing for years.
It’s a wonderful thing, to see humanitarianism take on a modern twist. Below are five featured prototypes from some of the best minds that have presented their creations at GHTC.
#5: Solar-Powered Antenna
It can be used in things like GPS units and even unmanned aircraft. In the grand scheme of things, this bit of tech is deceptively simple; the solar-powered antenna simply takes in energy from the sun while also reading and sending radio waves.
This new type of component could be instrumental in providing power where it would otherwise be hard to come by – particularly in very rural, off-the-grid areas.
#4: The Wound Pump
The innovators at MIT introduced an amazingly inexpensive alternative to more costly types of medical therapy. We already know that applying suction to a wound allows for a much faster and far more effective healing process; however, the problem is that most suction machines tend to draw far too much power than a medical facility in an impoverished area could reasonably accommodate. Simply put, all that power costs a lot of money.But this particular wound pump can be bought for $3. It runs on no electricity and is a portable alternative to its far bulkier predecessors. On just a few pumps, the device can apply suction to a wound for days at a time.
#3: Water Disinfection Indicator
Having access to potable water is an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, millions of people have limited access to it, which has caused digestive problems in much of the world’s population. While some companies have introduced water purification technology to as many as five of the earth’s continents, there’s still a lot of work to be done before everyone in the world has access to safe, clean water.
The answer? All you have to do is shine sanitizing UV light through a clear water bottle to wipe out dangerous cryptosporidium.
However, this leaves another issue: it’s not always easy to tell if the water has been adequately purged of organisms. Presented at the GHTC, the Water Disinfection Indicator can determine if the water is, in fact, clean. Best of all: when they kick its mass production into high gear, the device could as little as $5 apiece.
#2: Eco-Friendly Cement
With the potential of reducing overall construction costs by 3 to 5-percent, this cement recipe also produces very small traces of carbon dioxide while it’s being concocted. The result is a 44-percent cheaper, eco-friendly cement.
It’s a fantastic way to save poorer communities a great deal of money, while also saving the environment in the process. Given the number of roadways in the United States that are currently in various states of disrepair, this type of cheap and efficient concrete could also be a boon to local construction and paving companies, as well.
#1: Acoustic Landmine Detector
In certain parts of the world, previous military conflicts have left behind an unfortunate residual stain of unexploded landmines numbering in the thousands – devices that indiscriminately kill long after the conflict has ended. This is a particularly serious problem along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border.
But sound waves can actually sniff out these landmines without setting them off. One of these prototypes has the ability to locate these hazards quickly and accurately, which will save countless lives in the future. Because detection is accurate and there’s much less risk for personnel, it will cost far less for third world nations to afford landmine removal services.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this look at some truly remarkable technology that’s making a difference overseas. Those of us lucky enough to have grown up in the US know that technology can be little more than a minor diversion or even a distraction; it’s good to know that elsewhere in the world we’ve managed to put our spirit of invention to work solving some very serious problems.