Coolest Inventions: Water Purifier

Thousands die every day for lack of clean water. Can the man who invented the Segway save them?

At this point Dean Kamen IS used to being called naive. "I'm getting neurotic about people overhyping things," he says, "so let me tell you what it doesn't do." Kamen's caution is understandable. He invented the overpublicized, under-performing superscooter known as the Segway--and was responsible for some of that hype. So when it comes to his latest invention, a low-cost, low-power water purifier designed for the Third World, he wants to be clear: he has no idea how to market it or get it to the people who need it. He just knows it works.

What it does is simple. A...

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