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Clean Water: Lab-on-a-Chip

 Welcome to the FrugalBlog, Connor O’Brien’s tri-weekly compendium on frugal innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and social justice. Send comments, criticism or ideas
It’s Monday, I know. Don’t worry; together we’ll get through it. Here is a bonus injection of fun to help you get through the day:
Now that you are an expert in Mantis Shrimp, let’s get serious about clean water in emerging markets. Specifically, according to 780 million people in the world lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation. That is roughly 9% of the world’s population. More tragically, the lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.    
Let those facts sink in for a bit… Pretty depressing, right?
Luckily, there are some amazing people out there doing fantastic work to help put a stop to this unbelievably solvable problem.  Take for example, Michael Pritchard. He gave a Ted Talk back in August of 2009. His ingenious idea was to mobilize water filtration and put it in the hands of the people who need clean water the most.
While this is a great solution and addresses a major issue, we at the Frugal Innovation Lab wondered about the identification of safe or unsafe drinking water. Isn’t it important to know what it is that you are actually drinking? Couldn’t additional data help to potentially identify the symptom to treat the problem?
So, we tasked our students with creating a solution. After months of Sonny Gandhi, Zuhayr Elahi, John Seubert, Ben Demaree, and Jessica VanderGiessen developed the “Lab-on-a-Chip Arsenic Detector” (LOACAD).
Their product is a cheap, disposable plastic sensor that can be dipped into any water source to detect and provide data to an android smart phone on arsenic levels. Additional details and information on the arsenic levels can be drilled into through the app for further analysis.
This Summer, the sensor and app are being field tested for QA. Those finding will be brought back to the Lab for further development and improvements. We’ll make sure to update you as progress is made!
Thanks again for reading,

The Frugal Lab Team 

Frugal Innovation Lab |  Bannan Labs Building 404
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
1-408-554-2334 |