"We are all suffering from the bad design in the world," Thomas Fisher, an architecture professor and dean of the University of Minnesota’s design college, declared at a panel at the American Institute of Architects convention in Chicago yesterday. Fisher was part of a discussion on the link between public health and architecture with Heather R. Britt and Jess Roberts of Allina Health, a Minnesota-based not-for-profit health care system.
Thirty years ago, if you contracted measles or mumps in America, chances are you were born in a poor inner-city community. These days, you’re more likely to get sick if you come from a middle-class area.
“When Dr. Robert Zarr wants to help kids with obesity and diabetes in Washington D.C., he doesn’t just order in another set of pills. He looks up a database of green spaces and asks his patients if they’ve been outside recently. Then he writes a prescription—to a park.”
The pages of The Drinkable Book are made with silver nanoparticle-coated paper that filters 99.9% of bacteria, such as cholera, E. coli and typhoid from contaminated water. Invented by Carnegie Mellon researcher Dr. Theresa Dankovich, the paper costs pennies to produce per page. When someone receives the book, they tear out a filter, place it in the filter box that encases the book, and pour water through.
From a device that makes it possible to don a condom in one second to female condoms that inflate inside the body, these Gates Foundation-funded ideas will get people to rediscover the pleasures of safer sex.
“When we find a [genetic] defect, very few times does that give a direct path towards developing a therapy or intervention,” says Stephen Friend, president of Sage Bionetworks, the biomedical research non-profit leading the project. “What if we flipped what we were trying to do? Maybe those who are sick are the wrong people to be studying.”
Segway inventor Dean Kamen and his company DEKA have just secured FDA approval for a mind-controlled prosthetic arm that enables tasks as finely tuned as operating a zipper, opening locks, and wrapping a present.
The creators say the lower price comes from designing a custom motor that doesn’t have as much extra lifting power as other standing desks. It’s only designed to lift 225 pounds—enough to hoist your computer and desk gadgets, though maybe don’t put every textbook you own on it. It’s a clean, simple design with no frills, just a smooth tabletop and a small control panel. Considering that I spend my days curled over my desk in a bizarre yoga pose called, “becoming one with the laptop,” I’m on board.