While car technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past century, roads have remained basically unchanged since the late 1800s. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaard plans to change that by building a Smart Highway that can generate energy, wirelessly charge electric vehicles as they drive, and alert drivers to dangerous road conditions. Roosegaard believes that by harnessing innovative lighting technology and smart sensors we can make roads safer, more sustainable, and more interactive – imagine street signs that automatically adapt to traffic situations and lanes that light up to illuminate patches of black ice.
Rosengaarde will use the funds he receives from the INDEX: Award to push his concepts from prototype to product phase, and to generate new applications for smart road technologies in bike lanes and airport landing tracks. He is also planning to launch a pilot of his Smart Highway in Africa or India.
A recent study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that up to 50% of all food produced is thrown away due to spoilage — that’s up to two billion tons each year. It’s a staggering figure even before you begin to account for all of the energy, water, and land needed to produce that much food. To address the issue, designer and inventor Kavita Shukla has developed a simple sheet of paper that can keep your fruits and vegetables fresh for 2-4 times longer. Shukla’s FreshPaper is infused with organic spices (including fenugreek) that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth, and it’s biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, and affordable.
Shukla’s company Fenugreen plans to offer FreshPaper under a BOGO (buy one give one) model — for every pack purchased, the company will donate a pack to a food shelter. Shukla plans to use the funds from the INDEX: Award to identify new markets and applications for FreshPaper in areas where refrigeration is not readily available and improve and develop new and improved production processes.
In the past year, the world’s changing climate has subjected cities to record heat waves, devastating droughts, hurricanes, and major floods. As the planet’s population continues to skyrocket, it’s clear that the time is now to safeguard our urban centers. Copenhagen is leading the way with a Climate Adaption Plan that addresses these challenges by focusing on green growth. The plan assesses what the Danish capital’s greatest challenges are and seeks to minimize damage from climate change, establish warning and response systems, and construct resilient infrastructure that is able to withstand natural disasters.
Raspberry Pi is a tiny, affordable computer that aims to give the youth of today the skills they need to create and succeed in the digital age. The $25 computer costs less than most textbooks, yet it can be used as a robust tool to teach kids the basics of programming. It runs on open-source software and it simplifies the digital world by taking transparency literally — the computer’s guts are exposed so that kids can make visual connections between the different parts of a working computer. So far the device has been a smash success — in 2012 Raspberry Pi sold 100 million units, making it the fastest growing computer company in the world.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation plans to use funds from the INDEX: Award to expand its core team in order to produce additional educational support material. By providing more teaching resources, the company hopes to bring the device to more schools and ensure that non-specialist teachers can deliver high-quality lessons to students.
Each year millions of babies and mothers pass away due to birthing complications. However, many of these deaths can be prevented with proper tools and training. Laerdal Global Health‘s Natalie Collection is a set of three effective, low-cost solutions that can reduce child and maternal mortality rates by 47% by teaching midwives and birth assistants life-saving skills. The NeoNatalie Suction is a soft tool that can easily applied to a baby’s nostrils; the NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator is a model of a newborn with realistic head articulation, weight, heartbeat, and umbilical pulse; and the MamaNatalie Birthing Simulator is a wearable device that simulates a womb. These teaching tools can be used to strengthen and simplify lessons and save countless lives.
Laerdal Global Health plans to donate proceeds from the INDEX: Award to the International Confederation of Midwives to support the Helping Mothers Survive and Helping Babies Breathe training programs.
INDEX: Award ceremony photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat