Hand-powered Paper Centrifuge Developed At Stanford Costs Just 20 Cents

According to an article published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Stanford researchers have developed “a 20 cent centrifuge made of paper and string and operated by hand can separate plasma from blood in about 90 seconds.”

And this innovation’s key attributes are:
– ultralow-cost (20 cents)
– lightweight (2 grams)
– human-powered paper centrifuge (named ‘paperfuge’) designed on the basis of a theoretical model inspired by the fundamental mechanics of an ancient whirligig
– open up opportunities for point-of-care diagnostics in resource-poor settings.

Source: http://www.nature.com/articles/s41551-016-0017

Inspired by a whirligig toy, Stanford bioengineers have developed an ultra-low-cost, human-powered blood centrifuge. With rotational speeds of up to 125,000 revolutions per minute, the device separates blood plasma from red cells in 1.5 minutes, no electricity required. A centrifuge is critical for detecting diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, HIV and tuberculosis. This low-cost version will enable precise diagnosis and treatment in the poor, off-the-grid regions where these diseases are most prevalent.

2016 MacArthur Genius- Rebecca Richards-Kortum Developed Portable, High-resolution Microendoscope that Enables Real-time Diagnosis And Treatment Of Cervical Cancer In A Single Visit.

Another 2016 MAcArthur Genius- Rebecca Richards-Kortum developed portable, high-resolution microendoscope that enables real-time diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer in a single visit.

Source: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/970/
Source: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/970/

She is a bioengineer addressing global health disparities in low-resource settings by developing point-of-care medical technologies and a new approach to engineering education by drawing from nanotechnology, molecular imaging, and microfabrication techniques, Richards-Kortum has created numerous low-cost and highly practical medical tools.

Richards-Kortum co-founded Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB), an undergraduate curriculum focused on translating classroom concepts into solutions for global health problems. The curriculum includes coursework in engineering, sociology, psychology, and economics, while a capstone project challenges students to work in multidisciplinary teams to build a technology that responds to a global health need.

New medical technologies created by BTB students include an LED-based phototherapy light for treating jaundice in newborns that can be made for less than $100, and a bubble continuous positive airway pressure machine (bCPAP) for premature infants unable to breathe on their own. The bCPAP decreased mortality rates in a Malawi neonatal ward by 46 percent at a cost of nearly 38 times lower than the standard model. Committed to improving access to quality health care for all the world’s people, Richards-Kortum is not only developing novel solutions but also training and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists to address our shared global challenges.

2016 MacArthur “Genius” Manu Prakash On Frugal Science And His Aim To Make Scientific Tools More Accessible Worldwide.

Manu Prakash, a Physical Biologist and Inventor who is an Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University is one of the 23 people chosen as 2016 MacArthur Fellows.

Source: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/965/
Source: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/965/

According to his bio on MacArthur Foundations’s website:

Prakash has channeled his ingenuity to invent several devices that empower frugal science: these are low-cost, widely accessible, and appropriate for use in low-resource and field settings. Foldscope, a lightweight optical microscope that costs less than a dollar to produce, is assembled from an origami-based folding design from a single sheet of paper with integrated lenses and electronics. With submicron resolution, Foldscope has already been widely embraced in educational contexts.
Another recent project is a low-cost, sticker-like microfluidic chip that can collect thousands of nanoliter-volume droplets of saliva from mosquito bites that can be screened for pathogens. The chip would enable rapid, scalable, and low-cost collection of surveillance data that is critical for predicting and controlling mosquito-borne disease outbreaks. With remarkable breadth and imagination, Prakash defies traditional disciplinary boundaries in his coupling of basic research and fabrication of high-capability scientific instruments for widespread use in the field and classroom.

Gen X, Y & Z – And The Increasing Relevance Of Frugal Solutions

Let’s start with the “Baby Boomers”. They are defined as people born during the demographic post–World War II baby boom approximately between the mid 1940’s and the mid 1960’s.

Gen X – They are the generation that came after the Baby Boomers, and typically covers 2 decades for people born between the mid 1960’s and the early 1980’s.

Gen Y aka Millenials – This covers people born between the 1980’s and the year 2000.

Gen Z – They are the generation of children born after the Year 2000.

With those definitions out of the way, it would be interesting to see especially how the latter 2 generations are faring in their prime years going through the economic crisis of the past 8 years.

Early in March 2016, The Guardian newspaper ran a very informative article titled “Revealed: the 30-year economic betrayal dragging down Generation Y’s income”


Source: Luxembourg Income Study Database


Using exclusive data from the largest database of international incomes in the world, at LIS (Luxembourg Income Study): Cross-National Data Center, the investigation into the situation in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US has also established that:

  • Prosperity has plummeted for young adults in the rich world.
  • In the US, under-30s are now poorer than retired people.
  • In the UK, pensioner disposable income has grown prodigiously – three times as fast as the income of young people.
  • Millennials have suffered real terms losses in wages in the US, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Canada and in some countries this was underway even before the 2008 financial crisis.


Regarding the generation after the millenials, Fast Company ran another insightful article titled “Your Guide To Generation Z: The Frugal, Brand-Wary, Determined Anti-Millennials”

Gen Z have been growing through their teenage and college years through the worst economic crisis the world has seen since The Great Depression. The years they are also very impressionable years and the crisis is having long lasting effects on their personalities, behaviour and spending habits. This means they will be unlike any of the 3 generations that came before but more like the generation that went through the Great Depression but with a modern twist of living in a technologically advanced world.

Take a look at this 56 slides deck prepared and shared on Slideshare by marketing agency Sparks & Honey.

Their findings describe a generation shaped by technology and austerity imposed because of the ongoing economic crisis.

What the below shows is increasing number of people comprising of the Gen Y and Gen Z demographics are concerned on how to use resources wisely, on working under resource constraints and are socially and technologically more adept and want to use them for doing greater good.

I believe these are also generations that will increasingly create and consume solutions via frugal innovations- solutions that are quality, accessible, affordable and sustainable.

Here is a snippet of the massive slide deck:







Wharton Knowledge – The Sharing Economy’s Success Lies On Creating Accessible & Affordable Solutions

In an article from December 2015 on Wharton Knowledge – The Sharing Economy: A New Way of Doing Business, there are really good insights into the motivation to create sharing solutions and the success of such solutions.

Source: Venture Beat
Source: Venture Beat

At least until recently, car buyers haven’t worried about the excess capacity they were purchasing, as long as the lifetime value of the vehicle was greater for them than its lifetime cost.
“In the collaborative economy it’s not the idea of sharing that’s new… What’s different now is the introduction of technology into the concept.” — H.O. Maycotte, Umbel

All this excess capacity is what makes the sharing economy possible.
“Consumers simply want to make savvy purchases, and access economy companies allow them to achieve this, by offering more convenience at lower price.” — Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi, researchers

MIT’s Tata Center -Affordable Next Generation Mobile Health Devices Will Use Machine Intelligence And Advanced Algorithms

MIT Tata Center for Technology + Design was founded in 2012 with funding from Tata Trusts.

Since then the centre has been working to address the challenges of resource-constrained communities, with an initial focus on India. Amongst the many projects that they are working on, this current project seems really interesting and had the ability to scale not just in India but to other emerging markets as well has a chance to become reverse innovation for the developed world.

I am talking about their project “Machine intelligence to enable the next generation of mobile health tools” .

Source: www.mit.edu
Source: www.mobilehealthlab.com

What the MIT team wants to do is elaborated on MIT news website:

Although pulmonary testing equipment such as the body plethysmograph, impulse oscillometer, spirometer, and gas diffusion meter are available in many modern hospitals, this equipment typically costs over $100,000 and is extremely scarce in developing countries.


Fletcher and Chamberlain teamed up with pulmonary experts at the Chest Research Foundation to develop a more general solution for diagnosing pulmonary disease that employs a simple mobile stethoscope and a common peak flow meter, which together cost less than $50 in low volumes. Using a combination of input methods — including the microphone, USB, and augmented reality — they developed a mobile application that is able to reliably capture various data on a mobile phone, and then run machine-learning algorithms to predict the probability that the patient has a specific pulmonary disease.

They initially built the world’s first USB-powered mobile stethoscope collaborating with the Chest Research Foundation in Pune, India. According to the Mobile Health Lab’s website:

Plugged into a smartphone, its companion app transforms the device into a low-cost diagnostic tool, which health workers and nonspecialist physicians can use to diagnose lung disease.

This team won the $100 000 third prize in Vodafone’s 2015 annual Wireless Innovation Project awards program.

This is a a quality, accessible, affordable solution- Meaning a true Frugal Innovation!

Below is a really informative video on how they plan to use new technology to make affordable pulmonary healthcare solutions.

Stanford Medicine’s Biodesign Program Will Focus More on Teaching Inventors To Make Health Care Better And Cheaper

Stanford Biodesign is an ecosystem of training and support for Stanford University students, fellows, and faculty with the talent and ambition to become health technology innovators. It’s program in co-operation with India ran till 2015 under Stanford-India Biodesign and helped focus on innovations focusing on affordability, i.e frugal innovations.

Source: Stanford Biodesign

According to the recently published article on Stanford Medicine- At what cost?

After 15 years of teaching the art of patient-focused medical-technology innovation — resulting in the formation of 41 companies that have developed devices to treat more than 500,000 patients — Yock and his colleagues are expanding Stanford Biodesign’s focus to include medical cost innovation: developing devices that help patients at a cost that provides maximum clinical value.


He (Prof Paul Yock) stresses that medical cost innovation isn’t a shift to lower-quality innovations. Complications, longer hospital stays and readmissions — all things patients would rather avoid — also add to costs. Innovative devices to reduce those outcomes would lower the cost of hospital stays and get patients back to their lives more quickly.

The challenge is to revise the training model to include reasonable cost as a goal for innovations.


In its 15-year update, Stanford Biodesign isn’t changing its process, which has proven successful time and again. Instead, it’s moving cost evaluation up front, and teaching fellows about health-care economics.

Read the whole article by Amy Adams.. it is very engaging and informative.

Bloomberg – Not To Belabour But More Than Job Numbers The Issue Is Stagnant Growth & Productivity


Watching the US elections and discussions across Europe is the fact that even in countries where there are low unemployment statistics, the huge issue is about stagnant growth, stagnant/depressed wages, and low levels of productivity.

Bloomberg has an article articulating it quite well:

The improvement in the U.S. labor market is certainly good news. It could soon become a headache, however, if it persists alongside disappointing economic growth.

The economy added 255,000 jobs in July, after adding 292,000 in June. Employment growth was weaker earlier in the year, and two solid months don’t make a trend — but even so, the labor market is in pretty good shape. The unemployment rate stands at just 4.9 percent, yet the economy keeps drawing workers back into the labor force and creating new jobs.

The problem is that economic activity, according to the most recent indications, remains subdued. The implication is that growth in output per worker — productivity — is lagging. Underlining the point, the current recovery has so far relied on consumer spending much more than investment, which remains in the doldrums. Companies that don’t invest don’t get more productive.

High employment is great — but without stronger growth in productivity, a tight labor market won’t raise living standards as much as it should.

Awesome To See Amazon Creating A Store Specifically For Kickstarter Products

This is so awesome…

Amazon Kickstarter

In a post titled Kickstarter Creators Lifted by Amazon Launchpad, Kickstarter announced that Amazon has created a store specifically for Kickstarter products.

Eleven million people from all over the world have now funded more than 100,000 creative projects on Kickstarter. Together they’ve marshaled the power of community to support independent voices, turned imaginative ideas into realities, and begun to shape the world around us. Creators behind hundreds of these projects are getting a lift today thanks to Amazon Launchpad — a program that helps startups and other creators launch, market, and distribute their products to hundreds of millions of customers across the globe.

Getting a creative idea off the ground is often just the first step. Amazon Launchpad is a chance for creators to be discovered by new audiences, and to serve those audiences well by using Amazon’s retail expertise and infrastructure. The program offers custom product pages, comprehensive marketing support, and access to Amazon’s global fulfillment network.

You Know What Will Always Be In Fashion? Quality, Affordable Solutions. Here’s Why.

Source: http://cagle.com/

Emerging Economies will always want Quality, Affordable solutions.

Developed Economies will increasingly ask for such solutions.

In the case of EU:

  • Brexit.
  • Banking crises.
  • The largest influx of refugees since World War II.
  • In April 2016, EU GDP finally became larger than it did at its peak before the financial crisis in 2008. So, it has taken eight years to recover. But the bloc also slipped back into deflation in April.
  • Also most EU countries are showing a bit of growth but this growth is mainly coming from domestic consumption. The issue here is that domestic consumption helps but doesn’t really solve the big elephant in the room, ie. Exports! Without exports gaining a proportionate share, the economic growth will always be slow.


The UK-based study by the Resolution Foundation found that people under 35 earned £8,000 less in their twenties than the previous generation. Part of the launch of a new Intergenerational Commission, the report warns of the “growing divide between a more prosperous older generation and a struggling younger generation.”



Even though US growth has done well compared to every other developed economy, economy expanded by just 1.2 percent in the second quarter of 2016 while the first-quarter expansion was revised down to 0.8 percent from an initial 1.1 percent estimate. And this happening when the labor market is at more or less full employment.

Public and private sector organisations, businesses and startups cannot anymore keep wishing that things will be back to “normal”. This is the “new normal”. They have to really start offering quality, accessible, affordable and sustainable solutions as part of their product portfolio.