Mountain Safety Research’s Community Chlorine Maker (now on Indiegogo) was first developed at DARPA; it was standard issue for the Marine Corps for a time. But it’s taken new engineering and user experience design to make it a mainstream device, usable even by people with little education or training.
The camping light-size device can make enough chlorine to clean 200 liters of water in just five minutes. All villagers need is salt, water, and a decent car battery; the residue is a thick, white chlorine about an inch high.
Seattle-based MSR developed the device with PATH, an international nonprofit based in same city. As a military item, it was smaller, and black. The consumer version is a reassuringly blue, larger, and provides more water treatment.
“We’re an outdoor company and we’re well accustomed to deigning for outdoors users, but that’s a very different end user than someone in the developing world they may not be able to read instructions,” says company spokesman Martin Maisonpierre. “With PATH’s user group, we were able to create a user-centric interface and experience.”
The chlorine maker uses lights and sound feedback to indicate when the there’s not enough salt for the reaction to work, when there’s not enough electricity flowing from the battery, and when the reaction has been successful (lights blink on for short period of time, then off). “There’s feedback to let users to know without having to know any language,” Maisonpierre points out.
The Indiegogo campaign looks to raise $50,000 to fund the manufacture and distribution of 2,500 units through two other NGO partners: World Vision (Kenya, Mali, Bangladesh) and Operation Blessing (which took units to Haiti after the recent earthquake).