Monday, January 18, 2010

Greetings from Kisumu

Happy MLK Day! I’m in Kisumu, Kenya now which is a sprawling city on the edge of Lake Victoria. The views of the lake are nice and the fish is quite tasty. We’ve just come from Kisii, which is another town, about 2 hours south of where we are now. It’s been really interesting to see so many different towns and cities, but I’m looking forward to settling down back in Arusha when we finish next week.

The testing has been up and down. On the one hand, we’re getting great feedback from the users and can return to MIT with solid ideas of how we can improve the design. But on the other hand, nothing seems to be going according to plan-- one LFC (leveraged freedom chair) was fitted way too big for the client, which slowed him down quite a bit. Another user hadn’t clearly understood the instructions on how to use the LFC when it was delivered. He was quite slow and uncomfortable when we first arrived, but did make a marked improvement after just 15 minutes of instruction. And yet a third person who was testing the LFC became sick just before we arrived and was unable to do the physical testing. But we’re learning a lot from these things and will be able to design the next LFC trial better, as well as make improvements to the design of the chair itself. And we haven’t reviewed the data yet so there could be some good news still lurking in the electronics box!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about water. Clean water. And how so many people lack access to it. Yet at the end of the day when I’m hot and sweaty from working all afternoon, I can walk into a shop and buy a large bottle of clean water to quench my thirst. Doesn’t seem quite fair.

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