Technology Takes a Surprising Turn: Filling Basic Needs

Technology Takes a Surprising Turn: Filling Basic Needs

Young Innovators are making a big humanitarian difference in providing light, water and food.

For a century, we’ve been using technology for sophisticated activities like increasing productivity, traveling around the world and into space, and communicating in real time. But a new generation of innovators is using technology to provide some of humanity’s most basic necessities: light, water and food.

Bright Idea
When Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork invented LuminAID to fill a need in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, they weren’t expecting commercial success. In a recent interview, they described how a class assignment sparked an invention that’s bringing safe, effective lighting to areas affected by natural disasters — and drawing interest from consumers.

Charged with creating a product to help disaster relief efforts, the two Columbia University students developed a waterproof, inflatable solar light to replace the dangerous kerosene lanterns that were in wide use. Not only did the product quickly win over humanitarian aid organizations like ShelterBox and Doctors Without Borders, it also drew interest from campers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

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