Design for the Other 90%

“The majority of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10% of the world’s customers. Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90%.”
—Dr. Paul Polak, International Development Enterprises

Design for the Other 90% is an exhibition currently on view at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through May 29, 2009, and online.

There must be a use for technology for the Other 90%. And they are a market – for products that help them improve life, or even stay alive. Products such as the Q-Drum:

It can hold up to 50 liters of water and be used to transport that water over long distances. At an affordable price, saving time and money, all in one, clever, design.

I remember a keynote at the I-Know conference in Graz (I think 2005, and I forgot the speaker’s name – is there a program online?) which was not about knowledge management, but how computer are be used in rural india. One case was to examine eye patients remotely via a webcam – the patient sits in front of the only computer in the village and looks into the webcam, the examining doctor sits somewhere else and gives a diagnose. This cuts travel costs and saves money (and improves health). So, there is a market in the low-income population, for life-improving products.