That's the word that sparked the idea to create 'Kuno', a sustainable cooler fridge that does not need electricity to run.
Innovative young inventors of Kuno, Kuan Weiking and Theodore Garvindeo Seah began with a mind-mapping exercise by plonking the word 'poverty' right in the middle and eventually branching it out to explore problems faced by those living in poverty stricken communities.
The two ultimately realised that the lack of electricity supply was a significant issue for the poor - something that most people take for granted.
Despite it being the year 2020 and how technology has advanced so much, a mind-boggling 16% of the world’s population still lacks access to electricity.
"Without electricity, how do they power a fridge? How do they keep their food fresh?" said Weiking adding that these were some of the pertinent questions that they asked themselves during the initial stages.
Weiking said that after narrowing down on the problem, they then put their heads together to try and solve it.
"I think that's how we came up with the whole idea," he said in a very matter-of-fact way during a group video call interview with Rojak Daily
Observing quietly at first, Garvin later added that although they went through the process together, it was Weiking who first came up with the "genius idea" of the sustainable fridge.
"Then we worked together to make it happen," he said.
And make it happen they did.
The duo submitted their innovation for the annual James Dyson Award
and won top place in Malaysia!
The Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology students not only bested various other entries from Malaysia but were awarded a cash prize of RM10,000 as well.
They will also stand a chance to compete during the international leg of the design award, which will see submissions from 27 countries worldwide.
Using kuno technology
On the name Kuno, which means something old or ancient in Malay, it reflects the technology behind the invention.
"It (the name) seemed very suitable for our design as the method is not something new. It was discovered during ancient Egyptian times, and we wanted to bring back the idea and use it for something that could be implemented today," explained Weiking.
During an earlier briefing session, the two also said that Kuno's shape was inspired by Labu Sayong, a traditional water pitcher usually moulded from clay.
Unlike other mini coolers or fridges, Kuno uses evaporative cooling to reduce the temperature within the device itself.
How it works is that the main body of Kuno is built using a double-wall potting technique.
Sand is used to fill up the compartment between both walls and water will then be poured into the area to soak into the sand.
The evaporative cooling process then takes its course. Water will slowly evaporate from the passage, transferring heat from the inside of the device, out.
What remains will be cool air.
Additionally, Weiking and Garvin also included a small potting area at the top of Kuno which can be used to grow edible plants using soil.
Routine watering will help the plant grow and the access water will flow down towards the passage and allow for the evaporative cooling process to take place.
So cool kan
On developing the idea further, both Weiking and Garvin said that their immediate goal was to get a proper working model done first.
"We only have a 3D printed model for not, but we want to create the actual thing with clay. To do this, we will have to go to clay makers and see if it's workable.
"Only once we've done this can we conduct proper testing, identify flaws and improve on the design," said Weiking.
As for the shape itself, both inventors said that it was only a prototype and it could be made bigger or even changed into a squarish shape if needed.
Theoretically, this should not affect the function of Kuno.
Don't be afraid to try
On the whole experience itself, both Garvin and Weiking said that the key takeaway is to not be afraid to put your ideas out there.
"I think for most of us, young inventors, we’re a bit scared or afraid that our ideas might not work.
"My advice is to share it with people closest to you first. Good friends or family will be able to give you input. When you combine all the feedback and ideas, you will eventually come up with something useful," he said.
Weiking also said that determination was important.
"When my friends found out that I'd won, they were surprised. "How did you come up with this idea?", that's what they kept on saying," laughed Weiking.
He added that when trying out something new, you are bound to face challenges.
"Just don't give up and keep on trying. You will eventually reach there."
We wish both these spunky inventors good luck and we hope to see Kuno helping communities around Malaysia and the world one day.