Rice University students have developed low-cost centrifuges with little or no ‘high’ technology (H/T Futurity). By using commercially available products like salad spinners, small combs, and yogurt containers, undergraduate students were able to devise a way to test blood for anemia without using electricity. The centrifuges can test up to 30 samples at once with a little bit of muscle applied to the spinner’s plunger for 10 minutes. This makes the product ideal for use in settings where power is limited or unavailable. The construction materials – mostly plastic – make the devices more durable for rural settings.
This is a great example of new technology that isn’t high tech, but still valuable and innovative. Too often technology discussions focus on the leading edge, when there’s still plenty of innovation that can be done several steps away from the edge. New constraints (low cost, no electricity) pushed the envelope in a different direction. And people in several countries will benefit from this later this year, as students deploy the centrifuges through Rice’s global health initiative, Beyond Traditional Borders.