They’re the most basic of goods and services. Water. Electricity. Transportation. Education. And yet of the world’s 6.5 billion people, 5.8 billion, or 90 percent, lack access to what most of us take for granted. The exhibit “Design for the Other 90%” examines low-cost methods for increasing the availability of such necessities throughout the world. The StarSight looks like a funky street light, but the solar-powered mechanism also provides wireless Internet access for people in the Republic of Congo and Cameroon. The Big Boda bicycle, used in Kenya and Uganda, is the length of a tandem but without the extra seat. The extension enables its rider to carry hundreds of pounds of cargo or a couple of extra passengers. Upon seeing the One Laptop per Child, a $100 laptop used in schools in such far-flung places as Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Pakistan, one museumgoer commented, “I don’t even have a laptop.” Perhaps designers will soon realize that even the remaining 10 percent could use a little affordable ingenuity.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M. DAILY TO SEPT. 6 AT THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MUSEUM, 1145 17TH ST. NW. FREE. (202) 857-7588.