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From Durable Netbooks to Solar-Powered Fridges

 - Sep 7, 2009
Now more than ever, intrepid designers are focusing their efforts to bring technology into developing countries. Whether it’s through the design of solar-powered creations like netbooks and refrigerators or portable water purifiers, this technology is empowering individuals in these developing nations to live healthier lives and connect with the outside world while doing so.

Although all of the designs below are incredible, the realm in which we’re seeing the most creative development is that of computing. The first pint-sized PCs, like the OLPC XO-1 (short for One Laptop Per Child and priced at $100) and the Palm Foleo, were equipped with basic functions to make Internet-enabled computing accessible (and affordable) everywhere. Just two years later, the term "netbook" is a familiar one around the world, but the product that comes to mind has significant upgrades. Samsung’s Go N310 netbook, for example, is outfitted with an antibacterial coating that protects the keyboard from harboring diseases—perfect for places where it isn’t feasible to clean gadgets regularly. And the iUnika Gyy netbook is comprised of biodegradable materials and features a smattering of solar panels to power it without electricity—another eco-friendly addition that maximizes abundant resources like the sun.

The slideshow below features tech innovations in a number of industries geared specifically for developing countries. From the solar-powered water purifiers and netbooks mentioned earlier to baby incubators made from used car parts and inflatable solar panels to heat water, it’s clear that green design isn’t just for urbanites and suburban activists. There’s a larger purpose behind these humanitarian innovations, and it’s going to be exciting to see how these green gadgets help empower, educate and advance individuals who live in these developing nations. Check out these designs and more below.