A Windows Toilet? Bill Gates Wants To Reinvent How The World Poops
Bill Gates may be a technology wiz, but he is now turning his philanthropic attention to something more lo-fi: the toilet. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a fair called Reinvent The Toilet this week, seeking a way to ensure sanitary waste disposal for 2.6 billion people in the developing world.
One and a half million children die each year of diarrhoeal diseases, largely caused by poor sanitation and contaminated water. A video on the Foundation’s website also says that half of all hospital beds in these countries are occupied by people suffering from such preventable diseases. But the nations themselves don’t have the sewer infrastructure, or the abundance of water, needed to operate flush toilets.
That’s why Gates offered $100,000 to the team that could reinvent the commode the best. First prize went to a group from CalTech, whose futuristic john is solar powered and produces hydrogen gas and electricity. Other designs used insect larvae to breakdown waste, or produced fertilizer or even clean drinking water.
With water a dwindling natural resource, and scientists producing such effective prototypes, it may be only a matter of time before Americans are replacing their porcelain thrones. Just as long as it doesn’t operate on XP.