Thursday, June 27, 2013

Out of Africa - innovative work-arounds

Innovation often takes place at the edge.  In this inspiring TED Talk, Juliana Rotich tells how the infrastructural challenges in Africa, including the common lost of electrical power, are being overcome with technology that leads the way on multiple dimensions.

This is a story of entrepreneurship and the spirit of innovation under trying conditions, to say the least. As her team says, if it will work in Africa, it will work anywhere.  Their solution looks like a great idea for any geography.  Basically, they have created a modem (called BRCK, pronounced 'Brick') that works even when the power cuts out and a multi-sim device which switches mobile providers when one drops out and/or to take advantage of the best mobile rates, where cost is often much higher than developed markets.

In Juliana's words:


Requisite connectivity often requires 'work-arounds' as we say in our definition of the term:

"Requisite connectivity is the state of having robust and reliable communication and/or transportation media/modes, with operable alternative work-around options, so that contact may be initiated or maintained at the rate, richness and intensity that we desire for a given task or social outcome" (Kolb, Collins and Lind, 2008, p. 182) (emphasis added).

As often is the case, our desire to stay connected under challenging circumstances may lead the way to great innovations for other or all circumstances.

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