Sometimes the simplest innovations can have the widest impact. Although this idea isn’t as new as some of the others we highlight here, no collection of innovative ideas would be complete without mentioning Alfredo Moser’s brilliant solution to indoor lighting.
Using only a clear plastic bottle, water, and a tiny bit of bleach, Moser’s invention refracts sunlight through holes in the roof of buildings to provide daytime light inside. His workshop in Brazil has several of the lights installed, each providing the equivalent of forty to sixty watts of light, depending on the weather. Once installed, the lights reduce the need for expensive electrical lighting and allow people to work indoors in places without access to electricity. The light also reduces the use of expensive and polluting fuel burning lamps.
Moser first came up with the idea in 2002 after struggling through frequent blackouts. Since then the lights have spread to an estimated one million homes around the world. Despite this, Moser has made very little off his invention and likes it that way. Aside from a few dollars he’s earned from installing them for friends and neighbours, he’s happy just to have made such an impact on so many people’s lives.
While few, there are some drawbacks to the project. First, access to appropriate water-proof glue to fasten the light to the roof can be restrictive to some. Second, it may be impractical to cut holes in the roof of houses or workshops, particularly if the resident is not the owner. Finally, faulty installations based on inadequate supplies or incorrect knowledge could lead to leaks or permanently damaged roofs. However, the benefits far outweigh the potential risks. Moser himself is adamant that the lights create no leaks if properly installed.
The Myshelter Foundation, based in the Philippines, has launched a campaign called Liter of Light, which aims to install the eco-friendly bottle lamps in the homes and workplaces of some of the country’s poorest people. They aim to expand their operation and install a million lamps by 2015. See the link on the sidebar for more information.
For an interesting article from the BBC on Moser and his invention, click here.