Inventions That Matter Honoured At Economist Awards

Eight innovations including the Amazon Kindle and Gmail are to be honoured at an awards ceremony at the Science Museum in London.

Yet not all the innovations celebrated at the Economist Innovation Awards 2011 will be sexy gadgets or first-world solutions like cloud-based email. Many of the awards go to those who make a difference to people in the developing world who don't have the luxury of access to email, the web or e-readers.

Robert Langer, one of the most prolific biomedical engineers, will be honoured, alongside Marc Koska who developed a syringe that cannot be re-used, cutting the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Hermes Chan, one of last year's winners, invented MedMira the fastest rapid diagnostic technology and application for HIV that gives results in three minutes.

Chan spoke to The Hufffington Post about how meaningful it is to focus on innovations that improve or save lives: "Rapid tests have huge potential in saving millions of lives. With rapid diagnostics people receive their tests results on the spot; no waiting, no return for results necessary,"

"Rapid diagnostics make it possible to screen and diagnose for life-threatening diseases in virtually all types of testing environments, from a remote African village to the most advanced laboratories in the world."

His product is about the size of a packet of chewing gum, five times faster than competitors, and its small, portable size helps health workers on the ground make 15 million diagnoses each year.

Based on the belief that the best strategy to save lives is through early diagnosis, his invention means patients can receive the earliest possible drug intervention, preventing further spread of the disease.

The MedMira was first applied to HIV diagnosis, and is now applied to Hepatitis B and C and H Pylori. It will soon be rolled out to detect sexually transmitted diseases, tropical diseases, cardiac disease and cancer biomarkers.

The tests are also simple enough to be performed and interpreted by non-medical personnel such as testing centre counsellors.

Check out five great innovations that actually help people.