Archive | January, 2008

The Jaipur Foot

19 Jan

Dr. Sethi and the Jaipur foot. On one end you have military organizations designing landmines, and on the other end you’ve got people like Dr. P.K. Sethi and Ramachandra Sharma.

The latter two developed the Jaipur foot, a flexible and variably stiff prosthetic made of sponge-filled vulcanized rubber. Cheap to manufacture, the Jaipur foot “has helped millions of amputees in developing countries to lead normal lives,” and enables users to run, climb, pedal, and even dance.

Sadly the Jaipur foot, which was developed in 1971, has recently come to our attention because Dr. Sethi recently passed away at the age of 80. But the prosthetic he and Sharma developed continues to be widely distributed.



Tata Nano

19 Jan

Tata unveils super-cheap, super-compact car. That there is the Tata Nano, the spiritual successor to the original Volkswagen Beetle. With manual steering, a sub-one-liter engine and wheels the size of dinner plates, the “People’s Car” from India was designed not for aggresive performance, but for aggressive economy.

How aggressive? The Nano gets 50 miles to the gallon and will retail for roughly $2,500–the same price as the DVD player option on a new Lexus, as one reviewer drolly noted.

While the diminutive car will most likely not meet U.S. and European safety standards, it wasn’t designed to compete with cars in those markets; it was designed for people whose previous form of transportation was connected to their ankles. Tata expects an annual demand of one million cars. As the so-called “other half” gains access to automobiles, what will be the impact on the transportation design field?