Bleeding Edge Technologies

This week’s provocation concerning the impact of cutting edge technologies and how they impact developing nations raised some interesting points. One point addressed by the class was how innovative technologies are developed for one use but ultimately have a larger impact in their unintended uses.  An example of this can be seen in the life straw, which was designed to be a compact water filter for the outdoor recreation market, but has gained major attention for its use in purifying water in third world countries. But what about technologies that are cutting edge and designed specifically for these impoverished undeveloped infrastructures. The M chip is one of these technologies that address limiting circumstances while providing bleeding edge technology. The M chip is a cheap, portable blood testing microchip the size of a credit card. This chip has been proven to be as accurate as more conventional and expensive lab equipment. According to the lead developer of the M chip Columbia professor Samuel Sia, “The idea was to make a large class of diagnostic test accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results”. The M chip has been distributed in areas like Rwanda where HIV is a major health concern. So far it has been a major success in providing health care quickly and cheaply without sacrificing quality. This example of a cutting edge technology developed for more impoverished nations can have a major impact on the quality of life for both the developing nations and those designing and manufacturing these technologies.


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