I just spent a bit of time on Fast Company's CoDesign site which has some very cool gadgets - some of it high tech and expensive - some it it less "cool" but probably more important - "A Simple Solar Oven Makes Salt Water Drinkable", a foot powered washing machine, a respirator mask for babies and on the tech side a cardboard bicycle, and a gadget called Twine that allows you to easily connect the physical parts of your world to the internet. All well and good, cool, potentially life changing technology for the developing world, and higher tech, more consumer technology for the developed world.
So, what was the problem. Short answer - a big missing piece - no technology (cool or otherwise) for the 47%.
If I think about the bottom half of the USA - I see problems that are not being addressed by the "designers". I do not see technologies to:
- Improve living conditions for those living in abject poverty
- or technology to improve schools
- or technology to repair infrastructure
- or that offers training for careers
- or safer streets
- or cleaner water, reduced pollution
- lower cost but great education
More on this later - and Yes I understand - these sorts of problems are more than technological,they require greater investment, are subject to regulation and involve ("OHMIGOD") politics, nevertheless it does seem to be an interesting gap in the framework of a world increasingly focused on design solutions.