The design team behind the LuminAID solar-powered portable LED device found their initial inspiration in tragedy.

“When we think of our most basic human needs, we often think of food, water and shelter,” say the designers on the LuminAID project page. “But when architecture graduate students Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were asked to design a product to assist post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, they considered the dangerous conditions at night in the tent cities and turned their attention to another critical need — light.”

Stomp A Foot, Light 1,000 LED Bulbs

Thus was born the idea for a tiny portable light source that could be powered up by the sun during the day, then provide a full 10 to 16 hours of nighttime illumination. The LuminAID packs flat at 2.9 ounces and about the size of a smart phone. Inflate by mouth with the built-in valve, and the device expands to the size of an airplane pillow, using the trapped air to diffuse the emitted LED light.

Through the Give Light, Get Light program, the LuminAID team has partnered with non-profits and NGOs across the globe to deliver the device to trouble spots in more than a dozen countries, including Hurricane Isaac in Haiti and Hurricane Sandy on the U.S. East Coast.

Solar-Powered Roads Light Up

Of course, LuminAID is good for adventure travel and camping, too. And through the company’s sponsorship program, when you purchase one or more lights for yourself, you can donate a light to your choice of several different relief organizations — in Haiti, Ghana, India or the Philippines.

Just last month, LuminAID co-founder Andrea Sreshta brought the LuminAID project to the White House Maker Faire, hosted by President Obama. Andrea spoke about how the first LuminAID prototypes were made with handheld heat-sealers, Radio Shack batteries and different types of solar panels: “We hope to continue to have fun experimenting with ideas, making things by hand, and perhaps most importantly, effect positive change through our inventions.”

Credit: LuminAID