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Bill Gates Attempts To Reinvent The Toilet

by Emily Price | July 24, 2011July 24, 2011 8:00 am PDT

If you follow me on Twitter, you know my bathroom recently underwent a pretty huge renovation. During that renovation my maintenance man disclosed to me his million-dollar plan to retrofit toilet seats with a suction fan of sorts that would “suck out the stink” before it hit your bathroom. I thought the mere concept of trying to retrofit or improve upon a toilet (particularly the way it was being described to me by my maintenance man) was pretty absurd.

Toilet tech is something I personally have never thought of. The current standard model seems to get the job done – does the world really need a reinvented toilet? According to Bill Gates, it does.

News hit the web this week that Microsoft founder Bill gates would be dedicating a whopping $42 million toward the reinvention of the toilet. Gates isn’t talking about really reinventing the standard-issue that you and I enjoy, but rather the nonexistent model in developing countries where safe waste disposal and hygiene are huge issues.

2.6 billion people in the world currently use unsafe toilets or don’t have access to one in the first place. As you might image, those conditions lead to disease, which ultimately leads to the premature death of millions each year.

The Reinventing the Toilet Challenge is funding research at 8 universities worldwide to try and create a toilet that can work without piped-in water, electricity, or a sewer connection. The toilets are also hoped to be able to turn waste into energy, be easy to install, and cost less than $.05 to maintain.

I for one love technology dollars being used to create things that will actually help people live on a basic level, rather than just play Angry Birds in a new/different/faster way. While new operating systems and hardware is certainly exciting, its great that Gates is using his organization (and tech savvy minds) to create something to help people who are never going to purchase one of Microsoft’s products.

What do you think about the gates’ Foundation’s Reinventing the Toilet Challenge?


Emily Price

Emily has been obsessed with computers since the early 80s when she discovered she could play Ghostbusters on her father's Commodore 64. She...

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