A great interview on news.com with Dean Kamen, inventor of the ill-fated Segway personal transporter.
We sincerely wish Dean better luck with his next two big ideas a gadget for serving clean water to some billion people who would die without it each year, and a box the size of a dishwasher that delivers an off-grid source of electricity.
Dean plans to sell both these gadgets throughout the developing world using micro-financing to enable small businesses to distribute his products. It’s a bit like a franchising operation, but with a heart.
Pour sewage or sea-water into his Slingshot device, and out comes drinking water as safe as Evian, he claims. We’re making water for the world, which is not only serving the No. 1 health problem but also helping clean up the environment in the process. The Slingshot takes any water, whether it’s from the ocean or from toxic chemicals. No matter what’s wrong with the water, we’ll clean it up and make it potable, pure water.
The energy source is very environmentally friendly. Many of its big advantages include not needing extra maintenance or a power grid. It’ll burn any fuel. We ran for 24 weeks two units in two separate villages in Bangladesh, and the only fuel that went into them was cow dung sitting in a pit next to them, going through a natural decomposition process. Yet they ran perfectly and gave these villages electricity.
We have more prototypes and data on electricity generation projects than on water, but for lots of reasons, the urgency around getting some water machines out has been more of our focus. We’re further along and hope to be able to introduce water sooner than energy generation.
Dean told news.com that solar energy is just waiting for a technical transition that makes it cheap and reliable. I think it’ll happen and relatively quickly in the grand scheme of things, and the world will be a better place.
One of the chilling things is, there are a lot of people out there that are antitechnology. Their solution is to say, let’s replace this technology with no technology; let’s go backward. The answer should be, let’s replace this bad technology with better technology, and let’s go forward. Getting rid of unintended consequences shouldn’t be accomplished by rolling back the intellectual clock, because in the process of doing that, you’ll wipe out a lot of good stuff, he told news.com
Dean still runs Deka Research & Development, which he founded, in Manchester, N.H. ,and spends some free time on his tiny island off the coast of New York. He seceded from the United States after running into red tape when trying to erect a wind turbine.
See the full interview at http://news.com.com/Segway+inventor+scoots+to+bigger+matters/2008-11395_3-6140227.html
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