playlist

Innovations that made expensive things cheap

A microscope that costs less than $1. A post-natal incubator for $25. These TED Talks highlight exciting innovations that render formerly-expensive things affordable — whether it’s to save you money, or to save lives.

  1. 9:21
    Manu Prakash A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami

    Perhaps you’ve punched out a paper doll or folded an origami swan? TED Fellow Manu Prakash and his team have created a microscope made of paper that's just as easy to fold and use. A sparkling demo that shows how this invention could revolutionize healthcare in developing countries … and turn almost anything into a fun, hands-on science experiment.

  2. 19:40
    R.A. Mashelkar Breakthrough designs for ultra-low-cost products

    Engineer RA Mashelkar shares three stories of ultra-low-cost design from India that use bottom-up rethinking, and some clever engineering, to bring expensive products (cars, prosthetics) into the realm of the possible for everyone.

  3. 9:55
    Krista Donaldson The $80 prosthetic knee that's changing lives

    We've made incredible advances in technology in recent years, but too often it seems only certain fortunate people can benefit. Engineer Krista Donaldson introduces the ReMotion knee, a prosthetic device for above-knee amputees, many of whom earn less than $4 a day. The design contains best-in-class technology and yet is far cheaper than other prosthetics on the market.

  4. 10:48
    Shai Reshef An ultra-low-cost college degree

    At the online University of the People, anyone with a high school diploma can take classes toward a degree in business administration or computer science — without standard tuition fees (though exams cost money). Founder Shai Reshef hopes that higher education is changing "from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all."

  5. 4:46
    Jane Chen A warm embrace that saves lives

    In the developing world, access to incubators is limited by cost and distance, and millions of premature babies die each year. TED Fellow Jane Chen shows an invention that could keep millions of these infants warm — a design that's safe, portable, low-cost and life-saving.

  6. 4:28
    David Lang My underwater robot

    David Lang is a maker who taught himself to become an amateur oceanographer — or, he taught a robot to be one for him. In a charming talk Lang, a TED Fellow, shows how he and a network of ocean lovers teamed up to build open-sourced, low-cost underwater explorers.

  7. 5:34
    Joshua Silver Adjustable liquid-filled eyeglasses

    Josh Silver delivers his brilliantly simple solution for correcting vision at the lowest cost possible — adjustable, liquid-filled lenses. At TEDGlobal 2009, he demos his affordable eyeglasses and reveals his global plan to distribute them to a billion people in need by 2020.

  8. 11:14
    Amos Winter The cheap all-terrain wheelchair

    How do you build a wheelchair ready to blaze through mud and sand, all for under $200? MIT engineer Amos Winter guides us through the mechanics of an all-terrain wheelchair that's cheap and easy to build — for true accessibility — and gives us some lessons he learned along the road.

  9. 7:50
    Michael McDaniel Cheap, effective shelter for disaster relief

    Michael McDaniel designed housing for disaster relief zones — inexpensive, easy to transport, even beautiful – but found that no one was willing to build it. Persistent and obsessed, he decided to go it alone. At TEDxAustin, McDaniel show us his Exo Reaction Housing Solution, and asks us to prepare for the next natural disaster.