Illiteracy, paralysis, blindness, cancer, lack of drinking water – the list of afflictions and troubles that ail the world seems never ending. But there are nascent ideas, which when cultivated and allowed to flourish, can make a difference. Saatchi & Saatchi's World Changing Ideas Awards pays homage to brilliant thinking across the globe, identifying ten innovative ideas that have the potential to change -- and save -- millions of lives.

This year's winner, LifeStraw walked away with $100,000 – and with good reason. The straw-like device is a highly portable, personal water-purification tool that turns even the dirtiest water into safe drinking water. It contains a halogen-based resin that filters out almost 100% of bacteria and 99% of viruses that cause deadly diseases. For the more than one billion people who lack access to safe drinking water, LifeStraw is an innovation that could mean the difference between life and death.

By using an adaptation of a children’s book technology – the talking book – the South African Depression and Anxiety Group aims to surmount the barrier of illiteracy. Editions of each of the books are "read" by local celebrities in Zulu, Sotho, Pedi, French, Swahili, and English so that patients and care workers can know how to identify illnesses, where to go for treatment and how to take their medication – even if they’re unable to read.

Acuset provides a cheap and precise alternative to the $2,000 microprocessor-controlled syringe pumps that are used to ensure accurate and safe medicine and re-hydration fluid delivery by intravenous infusion in the first world. Because about 2.5 billion IV sets are used annually throughout the developing world -- and when administering potent drugs even a 3mm mistake can be fatal – the $6 controller could save millions of lives.

The OLPC Foundation aims to provide every child in the developing world with one of its laptops, with the goal of eliminating illiteracy and poverty through education. The $100 laptop features new designs for a more compact, energy-efficient, and ecologically friendly computer, with a new user interface, Sugar, created especially for children.

A project of the Harvard Medical School, this still evolving idea was featured among this year's finalists because it has the potential to provide the blind with sight. The idea is to overcome the problem of a diseased, damaged or no longer working retina. Retina-like signals from an external camera are sent directly to the thalamic lateral geniculate nucleus -- the relay station through which images converted into neural impulses pass before moving on to the retinal cortex. This is done through an array of electrodes that turn electrical impulses into nerve impulses. The nerve impulses then continue on to the visual cortex, restoring sight to some extent -- although far from perfectly.

The Wadsworth Brain-Computer Interface enables paralyzed people to communicate and control their environment by using brain signals alone. The user wears an electrode cap and the device detects the brain waves generated when the user, watching a computer screen, sees a desired item. The Wadsworth BCI selects this item, which simulates striking a key on a keyboard. Outputs include word-processing, speech, email, environmental control and movements of robotic devices.

PerspectaRAD is a system that aims to overcome the difficulty that arises when a procedure that is inherently three-dimensional has to be planned on a 2-D display. The system uses special optics and software to project hologram-like floating images of the patient’s anatomy and cancer site from standard CAT scans. It needs no special eyewear and could be instrumental in improving the quality of life, and life span, of cancer patients.

The Crossbreed Wheel circumvents the difficulties of storage and transportation of wheelchairs and bicycles. It is a full sized wheel with a segmented, hinged rim that allows the wheel to fold down from a rigid circular shape to a flattened blade-like form in one easy motion. The tire remains fully inflated and in place on the rim, thus allowing disabled people (and bikers) to use public transport more easily.

While it is currently difficult for surgeons to reconstruct any complex disfiguring of the face using CT scans, this ink jet based technology aims to build a fragment which will fit exactly, by placing cells in any designed position in order to grow tissue or bone. Scientists at the University of Manchester use inkjet printing technology to fabricate complex tissue scaffolds on which cells can be grown. This could be used to treat burn victims or patients who have suffered severe disfigurements. The eventual aim is to use inkjet printing to build 3-D structures that contain both the living cells and the scaffold materials.

Described as a "business in a box," the Grameen Technology Center's Village Phone project is a kit available to grassroots entrepreneurs. Consisting of a mobile handset and SIM card, an external antenna, a power source, and marketing materials, the kit allows rural entrepreneurs to rent the use of the phones to their communities. The project's benefits are two-pronged: it addresses the lack of communication services in villages across the developing world – individual mobile phones are too expensive for the rural poor and telecoms find the cost of installing and maintaining infrastructure in rural areas too high – and it also provides a steady source of income for the Village Phone operators.

10 Ideas That Could Change The World

Illiteracy, paralysis, blindness, cancer, lack of drinking water – the list of afflictions and troubles that ail the world seems never ending. But there are nascent ideas, which when cultivated and allowed to flourish, can make a difference. Saatchi & Saatchi's World Changing Ideas Awards pays homage to brilliant thinking across the globe, identifying ten innovative ideas that have the potential to change — and save — millions of lives.

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  • Sarah Haven

    Im writing a paper for school, And the question was "How could you change the world after college?" I'm having a diffuclt time figuring out how I could change the world. Any suggestions?