Columbia grads design solar-pillow lights for global village

November 16, 2011 by Nancy Owano report

( -- World populations who live without electricity including those in disaster-stricken areas in the wake of floods, earthquakes, and other calamities are who two Columbia University graduates want to help. That is why they have launched their campaign to deliver their solar-rechargeable lamp that packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight, waterproof lantern.

Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, graduates from the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, have a goal to bring their solar-powered pillows to victims of as well as the world’s needy. Their design, LuminAID,at first glance looks like a small boutique store carrier bag with a handle.

LuminAID is actually an inflatable plastic pillow with a thin solar panel and two coin cell batteries. The package can be inflated and deflated down to where it can be packed completely flat. Photovoltaic film is laminated to polyethelenevinyl acetate plastic. The LuminAID device inflates to produce a quality of light similar to a lantern. A white-dot pattern on the device diffuses the light.

It’s good for up to four hours of lighting at 35 lumens, or up to six hours at 20 lumens. The four hour setting, which is “High,” is designed for reading and task work. The six hour setting, which is “Low,” can provide households without the light they need for safety or as a simple night light.

Four to six hours of sunlight are required for charging. The battery can be charged 800 times.

Stork and Shreshta consider the lamp as a good alternative to dangerous kerosene lamps, which many global households with no access to electricity continue to use. Stories surface of small children and adults seriously burned from falling kerosene lamps or from lamps accidentally overturned. The LuminAID broader mission is to just bring light in an affordable size and design to those who need it.

Their plan to engineer the effort includes a “Buy One, Give One” concept. The LuminAID light is to sell for $25 (suggested uses are for travel or camping).

Money which the LuminAID Fund collects will go to sending the lights to needy sites around the world. Desirable purposes for the light are so that families can read, write, and cook, so that students can study longer, and businesses can stay open later, as well as for disaster relief.

As a field test, LuminAID is working with organizations to distribute the in Rajasthan, India, where they say one in two households lack electricity. The LuminAID lights will be used in rural schools, homes and by small-business owners.

When the campaign ends, say the two LuminAID co-founders, they will place an order with their manufacturer. They say they expect to ship all pledge packages to backers by January 2012.

Explore further: Personal solar panel could make electricity more accessible in the developing world (w/ Video)

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5 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2011
This reminds me of the soda bottle sun light:

It seems that solutions can be found to many problems using human ingenuity, available resources and imagination, rather than over-complicating and adding enormous expense.
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
They should go to dragons den. I am sure they would receive 1 mln $ :)
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
These could lead to some pretty nifty breast implants o,O

It's an interesting design concept, but I'm not really too impressed. Those things would just end up joining the garbage and detritus that already seems to be ubiquitous in many " 3rd world " countries. It's an inflatable lamp for cris'sake.

I've seen more interesting designs using Earth batteries, like this:


Things like that can be cobbled out of existing junk.
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
Perhaps it would be better to allow the "developing world" to develop, on their own? Prime Directive, and all that.
3 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2011
Two questions come to mind regarding these solar pillows.
1) How UV resistant are they?
Cheap plastics deteriorate quickly in the sun.
2) Will replacement batteries be readily available?
Dirt poor people don't usually have access to a Walmart or even a hardware store.

Nice to know that at least SOME Columbia U. grads are less likely to involve themselves with waste of time nonsense like OWS, presumably.
1 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
I can think of something else that comes in a plastic bag that works. It's called a condom.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2011
I can think of something else that comes in a plastic bag that works. It's called a condom.

Its a shame your parents didnt use any.
1 / 5 (7) Nov 24, 2011
Perhaps it would be better to allow the "developing world" to develop, on their own? Prime Directive, and all that.

If we are following the Prime Directive it is important to note the United Federation of Planets is a socialist utopia.

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