Falling Walls Lab highlights part 1

A 3-D printed organ helped Chiedza Kambasha heal—and inspired her as an entrepreneur

 

One year ago, Chiedza Kambasha needed surgery and was told she might never walk again. “I was saved by a 3-D printed valve,” said Kambasha, a Zimbabwean entrepreneur based in Switzerland.

The organ that helped her heal was created within minutes and cost around $28. One year later, she’s trying to bring similar technologies to women in rural Zimbabwe. Her approach is to use non-monetary bartering, meaning that women can trade agricultural goods for health care.

In some parts of the world, human organs have become a commodity, Kambasha said—especially in rural areas that suffer from corruption. 3-D printing could give medical systems an affordable source of replacement organs.

Not all organs can be produced this way—don’t expect to see a 3-D printed heart anytime soon. But it’s already possible to print valves, blood vessels, prosthetic limbs, and breast forms for cancer patients. When volatile medical systems fall short, Kambasha hopes that local 3-D printing can fill the gap.

An app to find silence in a deafening world: Antonella Radicchi’s “Beyond the Noise”

Whether they’re talking about the hum of traffic or the gurgle of a fountain, scientists measure the volume of sounds in decibels (dB). It’s a unit that takes into account the logarithmic way that we perceive auditory information.

The problem, according to Antonella Radicchi, is that different sounds have very different effects on human beings. The sound of a fountain at 70dB could be relaxing. The sound of traffic at 70dB could be maddening.

In cities like Berlin, sound pollution is only regulated in a few green spaces. Elsewhere, noise seems inescapable. “Silence has become a luxury good, available to only a few of us,” said Radicchi, an architect and soundscaper based at the Technische Universität in Berlin.

Radicchi believes that communities could use crowd-sourcing to identify and share silent spaces. Her research project Beyond the Noise aims to gather local knowledge of quiet spaces in an app. “Sound is a resource,” she said. “The community is the expert.”

Noise can be a public nuisance. It’s Radicchi’s hope that silence can become a public good.

 

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