Image: Red Button Design
We've already been wowed by the difference a decent water carrier like the Hippo Roller can make in the developing world. As inventor Emily Pilloton explained in a TreeHugger interview,design should be about solving the world's most pressing problems. Now a group of young inventors from Glasgow, Scotland, are taking the idea of a rolling water carrier a step further, using the motion of the wheels to drive a reverse osmosis filter through the water. The combination of easy carrying and safe purification mean that users in the developing world could not only transport water easily - they could do so from the nearest, not necessarily the safest, water source. The idea is capturing a lot of attention. I actually came across the ROSS (Reverse Osmosis Sanitation System) from Red Button Designs via the BBC's Dragon's Den program earlier this week (yes, I was bored). Among the usual budding entrepreneurs, James Brown and Amanda Jones stood out for a well thought out, thoroughly researched pitch for a product that could save thousands of lives.
The pair pitched the system not as a long term solution for water provision - but as an interim measure while more permanent sanitation systems are installed and/or repaired in the event of an emergency. The filters are said to last a year - after which the system releases a red die to warn that it's time for a replacement. Costing approximately £20 ($30), they are obviously prohibitively expensive in the developing world - but the company would be selling them to non-profit groups and/or as 'good will' donation gifts in wealthier markets.
Besides their successful appearance on the Dragons Den, the young company has won an astounding array of awards and accolades, including Midas Touch's Bstartup "Innovator of the Show" Award; The NLS Innovation Award for Environmental Technology; Striding Out: "Future 100" (part of Global Enterprise Week), and Courvoisier "Future 500". James and Amanda have also been invited to join the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce as fellows for their services to design and enterprise. Not bad going.
I for one can't wait to see ROSS getting out in the field. And I'm grateful for some inspiration on a night of lazily gawking at the television.