Dean Kamen has won numerous awards and honorary degrees from some of the most prestigious institutions around the world. He holds over a 100 US patents and more than 400 world wide. Most of his patents and inventions are in the field of medical devices, personal transport, prosthetics and environmental technologies.
His early invention of the wearable infusion pump, designed to give precise doses of medication, gave new freedom to those with diabetes and other medical conditions requiring consistent and measurable doses of medication such as insulin.
Kamen’s development of the portable dialysis machine significantly improved the quality of life for those needing dialysis. Prior to this invention, patients needing dialysis had to go regularly to a clinic to receive their dialysis. This not only meant drive time to a from the location but required the patient to sit in a clinical environment for hours. The portable dialysis can be used at home and can be used while sleeping or watching TV with family.
The IBOT Mobility system which was unveiled in 1999 is a type of wheelchair that can go up and down stairs giving wheelchair bound individuals better mobility. The other significant feature of the IBOT is that it can rise up on two wheels to elevate a person to eye level allowing for a more natural conversational encounter with others. The chair is stabilized by sensors that employ gyroscopes for balance. The IBOT was nicknamed Fred Upstairs, a play on the name of Fred Astaire.
The most well known and famous of Kamen’s inventions is the Segway PT (personal transportation). The Segway is a two wheel mobile device that is ridden from a standing position while the rider holds onto handlebars. The Segway has been adopted for use in many industries from warehouses to amusement parks for a quick and quiet means of transportation. Like the IBOT the Segway, which travels at a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour, is stabilized by gyroscopes. It is meant to respond to and feel a part of your body motions. As the rider leans forward the Segway moves forward and if the rider leans back the Segway moves backward. Before the Segway was unveiled it was affectionately called Ginger as a reference to Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire’s dancing partner.
The Robotic “Luke” Arm inspired by the Luke Skywalker prosthetic arm in Star Wars has brought new freedom to amputees. The range of motion and sensitivity of the prosthetic is so versatile that an amputee can pick up a grape or a raisin without squashing it and put it in his or her mouth. This new technology was developed at the request of the Department of Defense to enhance and assist in restoring amputees returning from war to a more functional life. The arm has amazing lifelike movements allowing a range of motion that was previously unheard of.
The Slingshot portable water purifier invented and developed by Kamen is a small refrigerator sized device that is intended for use in third world countries and areas with very little access to potable water. It is designed to run on a minimal amount of energy and will filter and distill water that comes from sources such as streams and oceans and even water contaminated with sewage. It can purify 1000 liters of water per day.
You will be able to see Dean Kamen’s new television show, “The Dean of Invention” beginning October 22nd, 2010. The show will feature new inventions in the fields of medical devices, environmental developments and energy. The show will also spotlight his UsFirst.org organization that promotes a robotics program for kids.