Best Inventor

No problem is too big for this David-and-Goliath inspired inventor.

from Reader's Digest Magazine | May 2004

Who would have thought this college dropout would have 150 patents to his name? Dean Kamen’s, Segway PT is a T-shaped scooter that’s designed with electronic gadgetry that seems to read the rider’s brain — keeping both machine and human in stately equilibrium. Kamen’s passion for invention has been a boon to many. His IBOT wheelchair climbs stairs and rises to a height that allows a face-to-face conversation with anyone. He and colleagues devised a VCR-sized dialysis machine to spare kidney patients the indignity of being tethered to one larger than a dishwasher. His long-term project is the Slingshot. Consisting of two boxes — one houses a simple engine, the other uses that juice to kill germs in water — the Slingshot will help the poor in remote or impoverished areas gain access to pure, clean water. Why that name? “A long time ago a boy named David had a big problem,” Kamen explains. “It’s unlikely that the little guy could have handled his big problem — named Goliath — without a simple piece of technology called a slingshot.”

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