Courtoisie Dr. Sathya Jeganathan

The low-tech revolution

We’re in a rural hospital in South India. Here, like all over the country, about 39 out of every 1,000 infants dye at birth. (1)

This fact convinced the pediatrician Dr. Sathya Jeganathan to import Western incubators. But this expensive and complex equipment did not fit the hospital needs.

So, together with neonatal nurses and local electricians, she builds a minimalist incubator: a table made of local wood, Plexiglass top and standard 100-watt light bulbs to keep the baby warm. This easy to maintain incubator only costs 100 dollars versus western incubators that can cost up to 20,000 dollars.

The first working prototype incubator cut by half the babies’ mortality in the hospital. It’s now developed on a larger scale in collaboration with the Lemelson Foundation in the U.S.

In emerging markets, simple, affordable and innovative solutions are coming up everywhere. It’s at the same time a profitable market and a way of serving the many… and might be a wonderful opportunity for you.

At the same time, Western people, definitely including Generation Y and Z, are heading towards a simpler and more meaningful life. They are fed up with complex technology they don’t need. (2)

Apple, Facebook and Google understood this very well by proposing very simple products. Nokia sent its ethnographers in Brazil, India, Ghana to study how technology could ease the life of the underserved people there.  And they came up with NOKIA 1100 (lien), the best-ever selling cellphone on the planet!

So, let’s go back to the fundamental and listen to our customers. Dear Future Shapers, when was the last time you spoke with your end customers? How could you make a meaningful difference in their life? And, I remind you, Le Creativ’ Center’s team has at heart helping you go through this approach ;-)

(1)Sinha,K. “India’s Diabetes Burden to Cross 100 Million by 2030” Times of India, December 14, 2011

(2) Backaler,J. “Haier: A Chinese Company That Innovates”. Forbes, June 17, 2010

Marie-Claire Le Reun
Marie-Claire Le Reun
Innovation Consultant-Coach and Head of Le Creativ' Center
Le Creativ Center

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