dean kamen’s water purifier making a splash


Well, actually, it hasn’t made a splash yet, and it’s got a long way to go before it may. Demonstrated last week on the Colbert Report, Kamen’s Slingshot is a vapor compression distillation water purifier, capable of filtering absolutely anything (according to Kamen) out of water without filters, charcoal, or other replaceable parts. Operating at 2% of the energy that similar technologies require, the Slinghot is targeted at providing clean water to the developing world.

And herein is the challenge. According to CNN, each unit will cost an expected $1000-$2000, which may prove to be out of the reach of the people who need it most. Unique business models, such as microfinance-assisted remote water kiosks may gain some traction, but it’s hard for me to believe that entrepreneurs will be able to gain returns on their investments fast enough. And, of course, even though there are no filters to replace, techy solutions like this prove to be challenging to maintain and repair, which makes it all the more challenging.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Kamen and his team are planning to market these, and I hope they bring as much innovation to the distribution and maintenance plans as they do to their engineering.


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