Novel Ideas, New Approaches Take Spotlight At Pop!Tech Conference
The annual Pop!Tech conference in Camden, Maine celebrates how unexpected advances in the world's problems from unexpected places. NY1's Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.
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One lesson to learn from Pop!Tech, a conference for trying to find solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems held in the small town of Camden, Maine, is to expect unexpected advances from unexpected places.
For example, a high-tech walking stick for blind people is being developed by three 15-year-old Palestinian girls living in the West Bank.
"It has two sensors, a front sensor and a ground sensor. The front sensor for front obstacles and the ground sensor for holes and for stairs," says Nour Al Arda, the co-inventor of this particular laser cane. "Both of those two sensors send IR, infrared, and this will come back to the electric circuit and be like a sound. Also, it has two vibrators in the handle."
While laser canes have existed for a while, this cane is among the very first to detect holes in the ground.
Not all the solutions being discussed at Pop!Tech involve creating entirely new technologies. Some just take existing technologies and create new uses for them.
Pop!Tech's accelerator for bringing together sometimes unlikely partners has aligned a handful of organizations for a new initiative called "PeaceTXT," for using text messaging and real-time, interactive mapping to help cut down on violence in bad neighborhoods.
The non-profit Water For People created an entirely new app to help deal with one of the biggest obstacles it faces in finding clean water for people around the globe.
"A lot of philanthropists give money to help water situations around the world. We want to do that, but when you do, you have to make sure the water continues to flow for a long time," says Ned Breslin of Water For People. "So we developed this technology used on an Android phone, so you can track whether investments have actually transformed lives whether water projects start to fail and what you can do differently to make sure they are successful projects
Developers say what is especially dangerous and potentially deadly for children is having to go from clean water back to unclean water, since their bodies often times have not developed immunity to the bad water's pathogens.
The Android technology allows workers or villagers in remote areas to immediately alert someone who can help if a water pump breaks.