I wrote a post a month or two ago trying to justify our disappearance from the blog scene in the past 6 months – namely traveling through 5 countries during 8 separate trips (which sounds good but isn't really an excuse) - but that kind of post requires lots of pictures, and the Myanmar internet just hasn’t been up to the challenge. Slowly but surely I’m uploading pictures, and hopefully you’ll see that post in the near future!
In the meantime, I’ll skip the travel details and give an update on our work. In January our organization finally received our Memorandum of Understanding (the completion of a 2+ year process), which allows us to operate officially before the Myanmar government. As a result, our organization was able to publicly launch our new name – Proximity Designs – as an organization running independent of IDE International. Brand new shiny website coming soon!
This year the design team separated into two teams running projects in parallel. I’ve been managing a project for a top secret product that will be launching in September 2012. Proximity has received a grant from the Weekley Foundation to work with IDEO, one of the most well-known design firms in the world (http://www.ideo.com). IDEO has a long history of working on social-impact projects for discounted rates, and in partnership with the Weekley Foundation, a small team of their designers is working with us on the design of our next product. Three of their team members visited Myanmar in early April, and with our in-country design team, we traveled throughout Myanmar to talk to rural farmers as part of the need-finding process.
While we wait for IDEO to prototype from the states, the in-country team has been assisting the second Proximity design team with tasks for the 2011 product launch in September. We will be releasing a new and improved water storage bag as well as an updated version of last year’s S’in Pauk pump. Additionally, we’re implementing TreadleBot 2.0 – a pneumatic system to test our treadle pumps. Below is a video of TreadleBot 1.0 which we used last year for life testing. Hopefully you’ll see a 2.0 video in the upcoming months.