1. The machine that converts poop into clean drinking water
Approximately 2.4 billion people around the world didn’t have access to basic, safe sanitation in 2015, while more than 660 million people used unimproved drinking water sources.
The Gates Foundation talked to engineers to figure out how we could use technology to tackle these issues. Peter Janicki, CEO of Janicki Bioenergy, developed a machine (shown in the video above) that converts sewer sludge into clean drinking water, electricity and pathogen-free ash in a matter of minutes.
The processor can help developing countries both by providing clean water and energy, as well as employing entrepreneurs to run it in the regions where it’s needed most.
2. The algorithm that can prevent HIV among homeless youth
Homelessness affects about 2 million people between the ages of 13 and 24 every year in the United States — 11% of whom are HIV-positive. But researchers at the University of Southern California’s Schools of Social Work and Engineering developed a new algorithm called PSINET, which uses artificial intelligence to identify the best person in a specific homeless community to spread important information about HIV prevention among youth.
Computer scientists mapped the friendships of homeless teens at a local homeless agency in Los Angeles. The algorithm looks at this network of friendships, and runs through thousands of possibilities for the person with the greatest reach at a certain point in time. That “peer leader” can then learn about basic information, like where to get tested for HIV, and in turn provide researchers with more information about the homeless community.
According to the researchers, PSINET spread 60% more information to communities than typical word-of-mouth campaigns.
3. The sneaker technology designed for people with disabilities
In 2012, Matthew Walzer, who has cerebral palsy, wrote a letter to Nike asking the company to create sneakers that people with disabilities could easily put on and take off without the help of others. This year, the company announced a new line of footwear — Flyease — that has a zipper extending around the back of the shoe.
Instead of laces, which are incredibly difficult for people with movement disorders, stroke victims and amputees, the zipper allows you to “peel” it open with one hand and slide your foot in easily.
Nike’s senior director of athlete innovation, Tobie Hatfield, designed the technology and worked with Walzer to develop and test the sneakers.
4. The life-saving device that can seal a wound in under a minute
Oregon startup RevMedX’s new device XSTAT 30 is a syringe filled with tiny, biocompatible sponges, which can be injected into a deep wound to absorb blood and seal it in less than a minute. While it’s been used on the battlefield since April 2014, it was recently approved by the FDA for civilian use.
A RevMedx researcher told PBS NewsHour that the sponges expand up to 15 times their size when they make contact with blood, which allows them to apply internal pressure to the walls of the wound cavity and block blood flow. The sponges would replace a medic’s traditional method of deeply packing a wound with gauze and maintaining pressure.
5. The “Internet on a microchip”
The WiderNet Project, based at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, developed theeGranary Pocket Library — a microchip that taps into the power of smartphones, laptops and tablets to deliver offline information and educational resources to billions of people without access to the Internet.
WiderNet has connected with with ministries of education, ministries of health and schools of information science in various countries, and aims to fill each “library on a chip” with a few thousand documents that a given institution, such as a medical school in Zambia, identifies as its core material.
The project reached its crowdfunding goal in May, and is collaborating with librarians, educators and volunteers around the world to pinpoint the information needed most.
6. Dinnerware that makes life easier for dementia sufferers
The cognitive and sensory impairments associated with dementia often result in difficulty eating — spills, confusion by intricate patterns on dinnerware and more — and out of frustration, sufferers often eat less than they should.
To tackle this issue, industrial designer Sha Yao created Eatwell, an eight-piece dining set that uses more than 20 distinct features to give dementia sufferers more independence during mealtime. For example, the dishware has slanted bottoms for easy scooping, bright colors to distinguish food and especially ergonomic utensils.
7. The lamps powered by plants
Approximately 42% of rural areas in the Peruvian jungle don’t have electricity, according to Peru’s latest National Household Survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Information.
The Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC), which is known for developing innovative technologies in response to pressing world issues, created the Plantalámparas — a lamp that runs on plant power and lights the small village of Nuevo Saposoa.
During photosynthesis, the plant’s waste decomposes in the soil, producing electrons during oxidation. The UTEC team captures these electrons by using electrodes in the soil and storing it in batteries. This process can light the LED bulbs for up to two hours.
09. The laundry device that lets washers reuse water for months
Washing machines use 20 gallons of water to remove one tablespoon of dirt. To conserve water and maintain efficiency, three graduate students at MIT invented AquaFresco, a type of filter that allows washing machines to reuse 95% of the water produced from each load.
The device filters out waste and recycles clean water and detergent for further cleaning cycles — up to six months’ worth.
10. The student-made device helping babies breathe
According to the World Health Organization, acute respiratory illnesses are one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of five. Babies who have trouble breathing usually need Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a simple process that in developing countries sometimes only requires a tube submerged in water. But babies in severe respiratory distress require Nasal Intermittent Positive Pressure Ventilation (NIPPV), a process that often calls for costly machinery.
The NeoVent, which was created by undergrad students at Western Michigan University, uses an inverted bowl mechanism that oscillates to provide two levels of pressure needed to help babies breathe.
The device allows any medical center in the developing world equipped to perform CPAP adapt its machinery to perform NIPPV.
11.The beehive that harvests honey on its own
Two Aussie inventors created the Flow Hive beehive, which allows beekeepers to get honey on tap without opening the beehive and disturbing the bees.
The innovative hive’s frames consist of partially formed honeycomb cells, which lets the bees complete the comb with their wax before filling the cells with honey. Beekeepers then need only turn a handle to split the cells vertically, so the honey can drip down to the base of the frame and out of the hive.
The Flow Hive has a clear window so you can watch the bees, which the inventors say can help with scientific research without disturbing them.
12. The best knee joint prosthetic for developing world amputees
In addition to newborn health, D-Rev also works on mobility. This year it launched the latest version of the ReMotion Knee, a high-performance prosthetic knee joint designed for people in the developing world.
The ReMotion Knee works with standard prosthetic leg systems and withstands humid and wet climates, and it’s affordable at $80. So far, D-Rev has fit 7,351 amputees with the ReMotion Knee.