Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Recycling in Nairobi

August 3, 2009

Originally from REculture: A post consumption economy

Steve Daniels has a great post at Analogue/Digital about Nairobi’s Industrial Area. “Essential to the Industrial Area’s thriving activity, and indeed a critical differentiator from rural jua kalis, is an equally thriving materials infrastructure. To sustain the manufacturing of so many diverse products, a separate industry has emerged for raw materials, both recycled and new.”
“Working with scrap material presents new design challenges. Flexibility is critical when ideal parts are not always available.”
Have a look at Nairobi Industrial Area: Products for more recycled lamps, boxes and much more.

Images by Steve Daniels.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from REculture: A post consumption economy

Nokia and education, part one

April 23, 2009

Met some really interesting students who are designing and exploring education delivery on handheld devices.

‘Project Nokia.Expand aims to create a learning platform for children in developing countries in the form of a mobile device. The device will be durable, low-cost, light-weight, easy to use and contains components that enable the children to interact with their immediate environment. The example applications are based on extensive user studies across multiple countries and continents. They will support learning, communication, and playful interaction within and outside a school. We believe that learning happens through interacting with the world. Technology supports that.’ Design Factory.

More to come after the opening of the Product Design Gala.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from Design in Africa

Out and about

February 16, 2009

Having fun, dealing with Africa time, good times.

Posted via email from Design in Africa

Mobile internet research

November 2, 2008

Tino Kreutzer is working on a research project, Getting the Numbers Straight that looks into mobile usage, particularly internet use by low income teens in Cape Town. Tino has quire rightly discovered that there is not enough data currently available in this growing area.

Here are some quick numbers; 97% have used Internet from a cell phone, 83% use the internet on a typical day. Almost half of their mobile use is dedicated to the internet on a daily basis. Here is what they do in order of popularity on an average day;

  • get news or weather online
  • download songs, videos or ringtones
  • go online for no particular reason
  • send and receive email
  • information about a hobby or interest
  • hunt for a particular fact
  • use an instant messaging client
  • look for health or medical information
  • information about movies, books or other leisure activities
  • information on further education
  • look for information for school

The implications for learning applications on the (mobile) internet is an opportunity space that is only beginning to be realized as a tool for change.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Nokia Open Studios

October 31, 2008

Great work by Youghee Jung and Jan Chipchase. Download the report here or here if you are at all interested in exploratory design research, design research methodology, user centered design, emerging markets, mobiles and anything else that blows your hair back.

Read the report, highly recommended. Image is from the report.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Innovation in Africa tips

October 23, 2008

From Ethan Zuckerman‘s post ‘Innovating from constraint‘:

  1. Innovation (often) comes from constraint (If you’ve got very few resources, you’re forced to be very creative in using and reusing them.)
  2. Don’t fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.)
  3. Embrace market mechanisms (Giving stuff away rarely works as well as selling it.)
  4. Innovate on existing platforms (We’ve got bicycles and mobile phones in Africa, plus lots of metal to weld. Innovate using that stuff, rather than bringing in completely new tech.)
  5. Problems are not always obvious from afar (You really have to live for a while in a society where no one has currency larger than a $1 bill to understand the importance of money via mobile phones.)
  6. What you have matters more than what you lack (If you’ve got a bicycle, consider what you can build based on that, rather than worrying about not having a car, a truck, a metal shop.)
  7. Infrastructure can beget infrastructure (By building mobile phone infrastructure, we may be building power infrastructure for Africa.)

And Amy Smith on rules for design in the developing world:

  1. Try living for a week on $2 a day.
    That’s what my students and I do when I teach my class about international development. It helps them begin to understand the trade-offs that must be made when you have only very limited resources. More broadly, it was in the Peace Corps in Botswana that I learned to carry water on my head, and noticed how heavy the bucket was; and I learned to pound sorghum in to flour and felt the ache in my back. As a designer, I came to understand the importance of technologies that can transport water or grind grain.
  2. Listen to the right people. Okay, so you probably don’t know what it’s like to carry fifty pounds of firewood on your head. Well, don’t pretend that you do. Talk to someone who has done it. I believe that the key to innovation in international development is truly understanding the problem, and using your imagination is not good enough.
  3. Do the hard work needed to find a simple solution. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”—and it is the key to this type of design work.
  4. Create “transparent” technologies, ones that are easily understood by the users, and promote local innovation.
  5. Make it inexpensive. My friend Paul Polak has adapted a famous quote to the following: “Affordability isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” and there’s a lot of truth in that. When you are designing for people who are earning just one or two dollars a day, you need to keep things as cheap as you can and then make it even cheaper!
  6. If you want to make something 10 times cheaper, remove 90 percent of the material.
  7. Provide skills, not just finished technologies. The current revolution in design for developing countries is the notion of co-creation, of teaching the skills necessary to create the solution,
    rather than simply providing the solution. By involving the community throughout the design process, you can help equip people to innovate and contribute to the evolution of the product. Furthermore, they acquire the skills needed to create solutions to a much wider variety of problems. They are empowered.

And Paul Polak via Nextbillion;

  1. go to where the action is
  2. talk to the people who have the problem – and LISTEN to what they have to say
  3. learn everything there is to know about the specific context
  4. think and act big – don’t do anything that can’t reach a million people
  5. think like a child – children have no limit to their thinking
  6. see and do the obvious
  7. if somebody already invented it, you don’t have to
  8. design to critical price targets
  9. design for measurable improvement in the lives of more than a million people
  10. work to practical, three-year plans
  11. keep learning from your customers
  12. stay positive – don’t be distracted by what other people think (if there
    were a need for it, the market would have already created it)

So here are my 7 hints/tips/rules;

  1. Understand by observing the environment, infrastructure, culture and lives of people by being there.
  2. Think creatively: start big, use constraints as a filter and find the simplest solutions.
  3. Increase user acceptance; build on existing platforms, lower costs and beware of radically different ways of doing things.
  4. Deliver value; what are the benefits for people using the end product, does it improve a persons life?
  5. Economic sustainability; provide financial motivation for continued growth over time. Empower people by improving their economic or social status.
  6. Share knowledge and skills to continue the innovative process both to and from people and communities.
  7. Peripheral vision; keep a look out for other challenges or new solutions all the time.


Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Nokia-The Way We Live Next 2008

September 26, 2008

Image credit

Some interesting presentations from Nokia, particularly ‘Discovering Emerging Markets & ConsumerLandscapes’ from Jan Blom and Jussi Impiö, whose research focuses on India and Africa. Here is an idea of what Nokia Research Africa is doing.

More information at Nokia Conversations.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)


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