Good Design | Technology Will Save Us

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Technology  Will Save Us is a forward-thinking new business model designed for positive social impact by founders Bethany Koby and Daniel Hirshmann.  Bethany says the inspiration to start the business came to them both when they came across a disused laptop in the street outside where they lived. Complete with a laptop charger, a brand new version of Windows XP installed and great battery life, the laptop had been chucked into the rubbish bin. Shocked that someone would just discard a piece of technology which still had so much value, they cleaned it up and donated it to charity. This got them thinking about the role that technology plays in our lives;  it is so fundimental to us yet we know so little about it, we don’t know how to fix it when it is broken and we don’t know how to be creative with it. Without this knowledge we are much more likely to replace instead of reuse. They started thinking about what type of buisness they could create in order to address some of these challenges and enable people to make things and understand technology in a more tangible and exciting way. Technology Will Save Us was born.

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TWSU is essentially a kit company. They produce and design DIY technology kits and they call themselves a ‘haberdashery for technology’. So imagine a standered haberdashery complete with fabrics and thread and replace that with soldering irons and circuit boards and you’ve pretty much got it! They call the kits ‘vehicles for education’. Each one having a specific educational agenda associated with it, they have kits that help you learn how to solder, kits that teach you how to code and even kits that will water your plants for you using solar power! The idea being that you take home with you both a made object and also an experience that you can start building on. They use what they call an ‘iterative design process’ where they run workshops that provide a chance for them to design a kit, do a workshop around it, get feedback, change it and then release it again.

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After meeting Bethany and being introduced to the concept of TWSU I was invited to take part in a workshop and I had to go and check it out for myself! I attended the DIY Speaker workshop at Rough Trade East on Brick Lane. The kit contains an amplifier that you solder together from scratch and comes with an ‘exciter’, which when attached to any surface transforms it into a speaker (very cool)!

Unsure of my own ability at both soldering and circuitry I was quite nervous approaching the workshop as a novice, but I have to say both Kirsty (producer at TWSU) and Ben (TWSU’s speaker expert) quickly put my mind at ease with their step by step walk through of the kit. There were a mixture of abilities present but the classs moved at a relaxed pace and never felt rushed or too confusing. And once my own initial nerves had subsided and I had managed to get my head around the delicate act of soldering, it was a fantastic experience.

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One of the great things about the DIY Speaker Workshop is you don’t just make the amplifier, you also learn enough about sound theory to design your own speaker unit to house it in. So it is as much about the material you connect them to as the electronics themselves, the idea being that it allows people to imagine what they could create for themselves in their own home. ‘Kits for everyday life’ is something TWSU is really excited about. Something that the participant can make, take home and is actually useful to them afterwards.

Testing and playing with the speaker after the workshop was such good fun and all the more satisfying given the challenges I had overcome to create it. You definitely value the speaker that much more given that it was crafted with your own hands and there is a genuine sense of pride attached to it. I would highly recommend a TWSU workshop to anyone interested in DIY, technology or who just has a curiosity for what goes into the design of the products we own. Definitely one of the most productive and rewarding Saturday mornings I have had in a very long time!