Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it time to reinvent the toilet?

We normally don't take notice of it and yet we practically use it every day - the toilet is a fixture used in most bathrooms around the world, making it an innovation that's been in use since the 1700s. As useful as it is, one particular organization is wondering whether it's time to reinvent this crucial bathroom accessory.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently launched such a challenge, announcing $41.5 million worth of grants to fund ideas that can reengineer the porcelain throne, according to CNN. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation's global development program, thinks that as useful as the toilet is, it's time to create alternatives that can be of use to developing countries - where about 2.5 billion people actually have no access to this luxury, the news source explains.

"No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by invention of the toilet," she told the news source. "But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches. New ideas. In short, we need to reinvent the toilet."