While those of us living in First World countries may take an easily-accessible source of continuously-flowing electricity for granted, such is not the case in developing nations. Many communities have little or no electrical infrastructure, and experience frequent power outages. While people wishing to read a book in the evening could perhaps use a simple lighting device like the Solar Pebble, the matter becomes quite a bit more serious should the lights go out at a hospital, in the middle of an operation. Many hospitals have turned to using kerosene lanterns, but Australian industrial designer Michael O'Brien has created what he believes is a better alternative – a low-cost battery-powered LED surgical lamp.

O'Brien was inspired to invent his lamp after spending a year teaching English in Paraguay. He saw how people there had to read by candlelight, and power appliances via car batteries or kerosene. Knowing how surgeons in such countries often had to work using lanterns or flashlights, he decided that what was needed was a high-intensity lamp that could be powered by a 12-volt car battery.

The lamp contains four three-bulb LED lights that can be individually adjusted and tilted – this means they can all be focused on one target, or pointed at different areas. The body of the lamp is made from a single piece of 1-mm aluminum, that sits completely flat for easy shipping. When it arrives at its Third World destination, the sheet can be hand-folded into shape, thanks to perforations along its fold lines.

The lamp reportedly meets all the standards required for use in surgery, including sufficient intensity, adjustable optics, the ability to be easily sterilized, and proper color temperature.

O'Brien is currently looking for funding, so he can get his invention into production, and then into the hands of aid agencies.

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