On October 16, 2014, Argentina launched its first geostationary satellite, which will allow Argentines, Chileans, Paraguayans, Uruguayans, and citizens of the Malvinas Islands to enjoy full satellite coverage. The satellite will be used primarily for data transmission as well as telephone and television services. The satellite was constructed out of entirely Argentine parts and has been named ARSAT-1.1 A week later, on October 24, the ARSAT-1 reached its destination and is now in its permanent orbital location. According to the MercoPress, Argentina plans on launching two more similar satellites in the coming years.2 The launch of the ARSAT-1 marks another monumental achievement for South America in the technological age.
In the recent months, Latin America has been at the forefront of the modern age in terms of its technological initiatives and feats. Soon, Ecuador will begin using an entirely mobile currency, where citizens’ banking can be conducted on their phones. Ecuadorians can make transactions and pay bills on their mobile devices without ever having to leave the comfort of their home. Inspired by the Kenyan mobile bank, M-Pesa, the still-to-be-named Ecuadorian system is expected to launch in December.3 Just as Latin America is making advances with their technological initiatives, it is making groundbreaking inventions that are truly changing the world that we live in.
During this last summer's’ FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the entire world was captivated by the games played by the best footballers on Earth, the host nation literally kicked off the quadrennial tournament by putting on display a paraplegic young man clad in a mind-controlled exoskeleton, which would allow him to move the lower half of his body. In this exoskeleton, the young man was given the honor of the first kick of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately, while the historic event was unfolding, the live broadcast was shifted to the players getting off of their buses and entering the stadium. The idea of the “brain-machine interface” was first conceived by Doctor Miguel Nicolelis, who ventured to “decode the alphabet of neurons in the brain” so that he and his team of neuroscientists could determine a way to link brain functions with mechanical devices. This is exactly what the exoskeleton does. As electrodes inside of the cap that the patient wears transmit information that is sent, the brain translates that information into a “language” that the suit can understand. It then executes actions accordingly.4 Although this exoskeleton is certainly an impressive example of the great minds of Latin America at work in the technological fields, there have been several others whose ideas have shown great creativity and utility for the impoverished.
Nicolás García Mayor is a young Argentine entrepreneur who developed the Cmax homeless shelter that is both portable and accommodating in times of natural disasters. García Mayor first developed these shelters as his final project at his university in 2001. Twelve years later, the United Nations contacted him about his project hoping to fund this young man’s idea for natural disaster relief. The Cmax portable refugee homes can house up to 10, have a table to eat, and also come with a three-bathroom module.5
From refugee homes to mobile currency to mind-controlled exoskeletons, Latin Americans have certainly proven that they are pushing this world toward a better future.
1. Buenos Aires Herald. “Argentina launches first satellite.” 16 Oct. 2014.
2. MercoPress. “Argentina’s geostationary satellite reaches and stations in permanent orbit.” 24 Oct. 2014.
3. Equels, Asa. Panoramas. “Ecuador to Begin Using Mobile Currency.”
4. Smith, Stephanie. CNN. “Mind-controlled exoskeleton kicks off World Cup.” 13 Jun. 2014.
5. Yañez Martínez, Diego. La Nación. “Un argentine sorprendió a la ONU con un refugio móvil para desastres naturales.” 12 Jun. 2013.