Sarah Wilson
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 16:59

By Sarah Wilson
Program Manager (Solutions Lab)

Flying the flag for life-changing technology

Kopernik sources the best technology designed for the developing world. We have identified 72 technologies from 42 technology producers to feature in our online technology catalogue, and we have implemented projects with 36 technologies to date. In our new format, monthly K-Lab we will be taking a closer look at these technologies – interviewing the designers and inventors to share what goes into bringing their technologies to market. How do they find the delicate balance between quality, affordability and, of course, utility?

But first, we would like to invite you to step inside (figuratively speaking) our new-look Tech Kiosk, on the Indonesian island of Bali, to take a closer look at our range of technologies and how we source them.

Tech Kiosk Ubud

Our flagship Tech Kiosk is a little different to the other stores in our Tech Kiosk network. A multi-purpose shopfront, showroom and meeting space, Tech Kiosk Ubud is designed to make eco-friendly, money-saving technology available to local residents and visitors, while also inviting people to learn more about how Kopernik connects these technologies with last mile communities.

Tech Kiosk is a wonderland for tech enthusiasts who can visit the showroom to touch, use and assess the technologies on offer. “These technologies have been specifically designed for people living in really remote places, who don’t have access to electricity or clean water”, says Connie Sittangang, our Tech Kiosk manager, “but there is a lot of interest in these technologies even in a relatively developed area like Ubud.”

Our top-sellers are water filters, mosquito nets, solar lamps and solar mobile-phone chargers. “Customers really enjoy the ‘try before you buy’ element of Tech Kiosk, for example being able to taste test the water from different water filters before committing to buying one,” Connie says.

In addition to the products for sale, we also display samples of other technologies we work with, such as the Q Drum. “We’ve had visitors fill the Q Drum with water and try rolling it themselves, to get a hands-on experience of using the technology,” says Connie.

Finding new technology

Every Friday afternoon, the Kopernik team meets to present new and emerging technologies that could make worthy additions to our technology range. We identify these technologies through online research, enquiries, and suggestions from Tech Kiosk customers. Staff pitch their finds, and we request samples of technologies that spark our interest.

Then the real fun begins. The Kopernik testing team assembles, prods and pokes each technology to identify possible issues which would prevent them from taking it to our prime audience: last mile communities. To make the grade, technologies need to be easy to use, durable, transportable and affordable. If the technology passes initial tests, the next step is to test it in the real-life scenario for which it is intended, use in last mile communities in the developing world.

Feedback from customers in Ubud and in the last mile, and from Kopernik’s experienced staff, is an essential mechanism for comparing and improving different products. Kopernik builds strong relationships with technology producers and eagerly shares feedback, which has resulted in improvements to the design and pricing of the technologies we work with. We also publish this feedback on our website, to help other organisations identify which technologies will best meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Drop by and say hi

If you are visiting Bali, we invite you to (literally) step inside our Tech Kiosk to touch, try and taste-test these technologies for yourself. Tech Kiosk Ubud is located on Jalan Raya Sayan, opposite Gaya Fusion, northwest of the centre of Ubud. In the meantime, stay tuned to K-Lab each month for an in-depth look at some of our favourite technologies.