Human Centered Design (HCD) is an approach to designing products, services or experiences that focus on user needs. Key components of this approach include using empathy and iteration to address problems and continuously ideate and test until a solution is found. (Hudak, fictiv.com)
IDEO.org (a sister nonprofit organization to IDEO) works with various organizations and governments across the world to solve poverty-related challenges using human centered design principles. According to Jocelyn Wyatt, executive director of IDEO.org, IDEO.org conducts qualitative research by observing and interviewing individuals who are severely impoverished to help brainstorm solutions to their problems. (Whelan, borgenproject.org)
In an interview with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Wyatt said, “The way it improves lives is that the solutions we’re creating—instead of being things that are immediately discarded or not sustainable—are solutions that people actually use.” (Whelan, borgenproject.org)
One project that IDEO.org worked on was bringing solar light to hundreds of millions of people living without access to electricity. (ideo.org) In 2014, IDEO.org began working with d.light to provide high-quality solar light to people in need of affordable lighting solutions. The result was the d.light A1 solar light (now A2), which is the first solar lantern of its kind and costs $5 US dollars. Features include an adjustable handle and stand for portability and an integrated solar panel. (ideo.org)
“Thanks to the A1, tens of millions of families will gain extra hours of light to work, study, and play, while simultaneously reducing the harmful health effects and slow-burn cost of kerosene lamps. Not only does the dim light of kerosene come at a persistent financial cost—as much as 25 cents per day for families who live on $1.25—but it also causes serious respiratory problems and is a significant fire risk due to gas lamp exposure. For many consumers, solar lanterns are the obvious answer. But until the A1, most were simply out of reach.” (ideo.org)
IDEO.org shows that by focusing on human-centered design and taking existing solutions and making them better (i.e. replacing a kerosene lamp with a solar panel lantern), a wide range of problems can be addressed and solved. Potentially creating a better life and environment for millions across the world.