CNET News Video: Tech Awards honor techy solutions for developing world
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CNET News Video: Tech Awards honor techy solutions for developing world

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From one-time-use syringes to fire logs made from an invasive African plant, the 2008 Tech Awards honored five innovators with $50,000 for creating technology solutions for problems in developing countries. CNET's Kara Tsuboi learns more about these seemingly simple solutions that have potential to make a big impact.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> With our fancy phones, lightning fast computers and ten gazillion songs in our pockets, it can be easy to take technology for granted when living in America. That's why the Tech Awards celebrate the innovators who are creating technology-based solutions for the problems that are plaguing the developing world. The 25 finalists are competing in five categories: Education, economic development, health, environment and equality. The winner of each category will be awarded $50,000, which goes a long way in distributing products or services in developing countries. Here are the five winners. >> Just African thorn bush made in to a log. >> That log won Dr. Laurie Marker in the Cheetah Conservation Fund first place in the environment category. >> Cheetahs have a problem because their habitat has been thickly bushed and it's a thorn bush environment that's taken over much of the land. We're selectively harvesting those thorn bush, so that we're -- you know habitat putting people to work and making a product that is saleable, which is a eco-friendly fuel log. >> Winning top honors for the health category was Star Syringe, maker of one-time-use needles. >> It's an affordable, sustainable product that can be used in the developing world where there are 16 billion injections given yearly. This is WHO -- World Health Organization data of which up to half or 50% are unsafe. >> Built-in wings only let the syringe move in one direction for one injection, then the plunger is disabled. >> It's locked, but I can pull the plunger because this is break points, so then it's completely useless. >> Build Change is a nonprofit organization that designs and trains homeowners and builders to build earthquake-resistant houses from developing countries. >> Elizabeth Hausler's Build Change won first place for equality. A category that awards technology that aims to level the playing field. >> We look at what technologies, what materials, what skills are available locally. Architecture is culturally appropriate and see if we can come up with some very minor changes to improve the structures, so they don't collapse in the next earthquake. >> In one sentence, this is basically Netflix for poor kids. >> That's the concept of Digital StudyHall, the winner of the education category. >> In places like India and Bangladesh where they have no good teachers at all, what do we do? We find good teachers in cities, shoot them, put them in a big video database, burn DVDs from them and distribute the DVDs to these poor schools in slums and rural areas. >> Also targeting poor communities in India is Desi Power. >> There 350,000 villages in India that have no electricity, no water supply, no education, no health services. >> Hari Sharan took home top dollar in the economic development category for finding a way to solve unemployment and lack of electricity in these villages. >> So we decided to link the two goals of creating electricity with renewable energy with local resources in the village and use the electricity to create jobs for the people. >> After a day of networking with potential investors, the laureates were honored at a gala at the San Jose Convention Center. I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNET.com. ^M00:03:11 [ Music ]

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