How Design Can Change The World

A couple of weeks ago we got an intriguing kind of message. We get many interesting messages – some of them we print out and they become office memes – but what struck us about this message was that it came in not very long after we wrote about the importance of giving back.

Jono told us about the XPRIZE Foundation, a non-profit that sponsors and manages large international competitions that bring about “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity”. Their motto is, ‘Making the Impossible Possible’. Founded by Peter Diamandis, their board of trustees includes Elon Musk, James Cameron, Larry Page, and Arianna Huffington, amongst others. When Elon Musk comes calling…you keep reading.

The latest competition, worth $15 million, is designed to eradicate illiteracy through the creation of Open Source software that will teach kids reading, writing, and arithmetic within 18 months. This will greatly benefit areas where little to no education exists.

While XPRIZE provides the logistical support for product launch, it relies on all types of people to come up with solutions. The recently launched design drive encourages designers to create visual mock-ups of what the literacy software would look like. How will an illiterate boy or girl learn that A is the first letter in the alphabet? How will software on a tablet teach somebody to spell their name for the first time? It’s a powerful challenge. And design is where it all starts.

Jono noticed we have a tool that encourages design collaborations. We also have a community of designers who build many awesome products using Moqups.  While software engineers are going to build the product, it’s unlikely that many of the teams that form up will have the design skills to get their rocket software off the ground gracefully.

This is why designers, and the design drive, are important to this challenge. It’s all about generating ideas and creating that perfect storm of creativity, know-how, and collaboration that leads to truly innovative solutions. Here’s what Jono has to say about it.

If you’re a developer, scientist, teacher, writer, or a designer, you have the opportunity to participate, just by providing feedback and ideas. You also have an opportunity to form a team with people who are passionate about making a difference in the world, the way these people did. Given the technology that exists and the tools at our disposal these days, this is a clear cut chance to make the world a better place.

Go to forum.xprize.org to start sharing your design ideas!

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