Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Making It

A Surgical Light For The Developing World

A clever low-cost light fills a clear gap in the market—while also providing a new business opportunity.

In developing countries, many hospitals have to do without electricity. This is a problem, because when you’re doing surgery, you can’t do without light. Medical procedures end up happening in badly under-lit conditions, illuminated by flashlight or kerosene lantern.

As part of a contest run by India Future of Change, Michael O’Brien from Sydney’s University of Technology created a surgical lamp designed to solve these problems. It consists of a set of LED lights powered by a rechargeable 12-volt battery mounted in a sheet-metal frame.

The frame is made of a single sheet of metal. One material means one industrial process, which means that it’s ultra-cheap to produce at scale. Along with the LED components, it can be shipped in an envelope, making it easy to get to its destination. The frame is perforated to allow it to be folded into shape by hand, making it easy to install. O’Brien notes that this allows an opportunity for small businesses to grow around assembling the lights for use.

What’s interesting about this design is that as much attention was paid to the logistics chain as to the final product. After all, lighting in a hospital situation is already a solved problem. The real problem is getting lights to all the hospitals.

[Photos by Michael O’Brien. You can find write ups of the other contest entrants here.]