Barcelona Design Week 2010: D-Lab's 4 Designs Against Poverty (Photos + Videos)

d-lab freedom chair photo

The Leveraged Freedom Chair. Image Credit: MIT Mobility Lab

At today's lecture "Facing New Challenges Through Design" as part of Barcelona Design Week, I had the pleasure to come across some more projects by D-Lab, presented by Victor Grau Serrat from MIT in Boston. Grau gave an inspiring talk about how design and creativity can lift people out of poverty, mainly by co-designing and similar to Paul Polak's Design for the Other 90%. Here four clever designs by D-lab:

Phase Change Incubator

d-lab phase change incubator image

Phase Change Incubator. Image Credit: D-lab

Like all of D-labs design's, this device is low-cost, low-maintenance and can be build with easy-to-find and cheap materials. The Phase Change Incubator is designed to test for microorganisms in water supplies without the need for electricity, or expensive equipment or a lab, making it perfect to use in remote areas and/or poor communities. The device keeps samples at 37ºC (around 99ºF) for 24 hours after it has been heated due to its insulation properties. Designed by D-lab founder Amy Smith, the Incubator is now being distributed and put to use by the NGO A Drop in the Bucket.

Leveraged Freedom Chair

A wheelchair design that functions in rough environments and can easily be produced in rural and poor communities. Amos Winter, together with his team at MIT, designed this affordable wheelchair that the user can take off-road as well as use indoors, due to its small and maneuverable design. Read the whole story about the Leveraged Freedom Chair on MIT news.

Charcoal from agricultural waste

Jeremy wrote about this design calling it a a low-tech solution from high-tech minds, and explained how it has been put to use to green Haiti recently, which is 98% deforested. This method of making charcoal from agricultural waste reduces indoor air pollution, mitigate deforestation and generate a supplemental income. But not only in this Caribbean country but around the world, more than 1000 people, in over 61 workshops, have been trained to set up their own business making charcoal from agricultural waste. This process turns 16kg of waste produce (like corn stalks and husks) into 4 kg of coal and requires very little to do so, mainly a 55-gallon oil drum and a simple $2 press to shape the briquettes.

Corn Sheller

d-lab corn sheller photo

Corn Sheller. Image Credit: D-lab

The Corn Sheller is another simple, hand-held tool for removing the dried kernels from an ear of corn. Using this device can save the user over 100 work hours a year. But more importantly, as Victor Grau explained this morning, people get inspired to create things once they build their own Corn Sheller from a sheet of metal and the instructions of D-Lab. Grau described how a lot of people, once they experience a little bit of designing and making, develop the confidence to do more, and come up with very clever designs on their own. You can download the instructions for the Corn Sheller here.

For more open source designs that enable people to get out of poverty, visit ::D-lab

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