Tania Douglas: To design better tech, understand context
Tania Douglas imagines how biomedical engineering can help address some of Africa's health challenges. Full bio
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from hospitals in Africa.
used in Africa are imported,
for local conditions.
and maintain and repair them;
high temperatures and humidity;
and reliable supply of electricity.
in an equipment graveyard at some point
to track the heart rate of unborn babies.
in rich countries.
the standard of care is often
to the baby's heart rate
for more than a century.
and the experience of the midwife.
at a local hospital a few years ago,
in information technology.
to hear any heart rate
through this horn.
fetal heart rate monitor.
and connected it to a smartphone.
records the heart rate, analyzes it
with a range of information
and Joshua Okello.
that manufactured hearing aids.
these hearing aids needed batteries
that was not affordable
with rechargeable batteries,
by his invention.
invented a smart glove
may have been cured,
will have left many of them
to detect temperature and pressure
as an artificial sense of touch
after observing former leprosy patients
their day-to-day activities,
and the hazards in their environment.
Health Innovation and Design.
students in biomedical engineering.
is to introduce these students
to engage with communities
to health-related problems.
is a group of elderly people
of addressing hearing loss
would design a better hearing aid.
and their caregivers.
adequate hearing aids already existed,
and had access to them
were in denial of their hearing loss.
to wearing a hearing aid.
in which these elderly people lived
and their community center
that interfered with their hearing.
a new and better hearing aid,
of the environment,
to raise awareness of hearing loss
attached to wearing a hearing aid.
when one pays attention to the user --
from the focus of technology
through listening and engaging
in software engineering.
just didn't know what they wanted.
the student fed back to us
that it was he who hadn't understood
to design with empathy,
education had taught her.
we're often blinded to real needs
We need fetal heart rate monitors.
success stories from Africa?
a few exceptional individuals
and people and context.
and income and education.
and inventors already know enough
of our different communities
of skill and commitment could fly in,
to invent for Africa.
a superficial interaction.
and the complexities of our context.
base of knowledge
to our own problems.
that is filled with untapped talent.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERTania Douglas - Biomedical engineering professor
Tania Douglas imagines how biomedical engineering can help address some of Africa's health challenges.
Why you should listen
Tania Douglas's research interests include medical imaging and image analysis, the development of contextually appropriate technology to improve health and health innovation management, particularly the mechanisms of medical device innovation in South Africa.
Douglas is engaged in capacity building for biomedical engineering and needs-based health technology innovation at universities across the African continent; two such projects are "Developing Innovative Interdisciplinary Biomedical Engineering Programs in Africa," in collaboration with Northwestern University and the Universities of Lagos and Ibadan, and "African Biomedical Engineering Mobility," in collaboration with Kenyatta University, Cairo University, Addis Ababa University, the Mbarara University of Science and Technology, the University of Lagos, and the University of Pisa.
Douglas is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Global Health Innovation, an electronic open-access journal focusing on social and technological innovation for improved health, which launches in 2018. The journal aims to serve as a platform for disseminating research on health innovation in developing settings.
Douglas has been a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne and at the Free University of Berlin, an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at University College London, a Visiting Professor at Kenyatta University, and a Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University. She is a fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering, a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, and a Fellow of the International Academy for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Tania Douglas | Speaker | TED.com