Mobile Phone Microscopy for the Developing World and Other Ideas

Published Feb-09-10

Four innovative winning solutions submitted to an Intel open innovation competition to address some of the developing world's most pressing problems.

Intel Corporation

The Story:

Mobile Phone Microscopy for the Developing World and Other Ideas Businesses are not the only beneficiaries of an open innovation approach to discovering new technologies; communities in the developing world are also benefiting from solutions to some of the most challenging problems they face.

Pressing issues such as irrigation, mosquito control, and disease management are just a handful of the urgent needs that have been addressed by open innovation.

Intel Open Innovation Competition

In 2008 Intel Corporation launched a competition seeking the best technology ideas in four areas of global need – economic development, education, the environment and healthcare. Winners in each category would be awarded $100,000 in development and implementation funding.

“Technology is a tool to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges related to healthcare, education, economic development and the environment. No nations or individuals are untouched by these issues. Get involved. Be part of the solution,” was the rallying cry of Intel chairman Craig Barrett.

Discovering New Ideas

The intent was to encourage individuals and organizations to come up with new ideas and to think of new ways of applying technology to solve some of the problems.

The contest was open for eight months and during that time more than 200 submissions were filed from companies, non-profit organizations, universities, non-governmental organizations and individuals from 44 countries around the world.

“The caliber of submissions demonstrates the incredible collaborative power of the developer community to use technology to help solve real-world problems," added Barrett.

The four winners were:

Cellscope: Telemicroscopy for disease diagnosis – submitted by Daniel Fletcher, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. This is a way of turning a camera-enabled cell phone into a handheld microscope that can diagnose and monitor infectious diseases such as malaria. Images can be captured and transmitted.

Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC) – submitted by Eric Morrow, executive director of the Maendeleo Foundation in Uganda. Solar-powered computers for schools in poor, deprived and remote areas that have no access to the Internet or IT applications.

Rural Livelihood Enhancement – submitted by Bibek Chapagain, Clean Energy Group director at Winrock International. A proposal to use renewable energy from micro-hydro stations and solar cells to deliver communication technologies to parts of rural Nepal that are not on the electricity grid.

Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) – submitted by Michael Potts, Catholic Relief Services' director for GLCI. A pilot project pioneering the use of laptops and data communication amongst farmers in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to help them monitor disease threats and increase their crop yields.

Open Innovation Delivers

Initiatives such as Intel’s Inspire-Empower Challenge focus the power of open innovation on the developing world. It increases the scale and efficiency with which the social problems of the most vulnerable members of society can be solved.

For the problem solvers it is the satisfaction of knowing that their brainpower can transform, and in many case save the lives of millions of individuals.

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