Sunday, March 9, 2008

SP Road 'BOP' Designs

Visited SP Road, which is the biggest electronics market in Bangalore. It is very similar to Lamington Road in Bombay, in the way that you might see a bullock cart delivering DVD players and such. With my friend Saurabh from MS research, we came across some really interesting 'bottom of the pyramid' technologies. Battery powered lighting was probably the most interesting set of innovations. The LED flashlight above is only 3 dollars and provides over 240 hours (ten days) of light per charge. When it is out of juice, simply plug it into the wall. Furthermore, there is a + - power outlet on the flashlight, that appears to be used for charging some cell phones. If so, that's brilliant design!

There were also a number of rechargable-battery-powered Florescent lighting solutions, some for as little as 5 dollars. This is so important, because 'load shedding' affects most households in India. Load shedding is a temporary power cut resulting from more electrical demand than supply (India's demand is estimated to be nearly 1/3 higher than supply!). The rich can purchase UPS systems (Uninterrupted Power Supplies), which cost upwards of $250. However, many seemed happy to buy 6 volt batteries and DC/AC adapters--which might sell for as little as $5.

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