The LAB: Innovating Water Access in Developing Countries (May 2010)

by | May 24, 2010 | Consultants, Creativity Tools, Design Thinking, Innovation Clusters, Jacob Goldenberg, Technology | 0 comments

 Shortage of water may become a more catastrophic problem than food or energy shortage according to experts.  The problem affects developing as well as developed countries including the U.S..  For this month’s LAB, we will look at how the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., can be used to address such a serious issue.  The following ideas were developed by students at the University of Cincinnati working on the PUR water filtration system from Procter & Gamble.  They are excellent examples of purpose-driven innovation.  You can download the team’s complete portfolio here.

Pur trek open 1.  TASK UNIFICATION (assigning an additional job to an existing resource):  Hikers and campers can now experience PUR Trek and the confidence of having filtered water at all times anywhere they go. These 16-oz, single-serving, disposable, portable, and easy to carry drink containers offer a flat design for minimal storage, with easy-to- expand, biodegradable Tetra Pak inspired material.  For quick filling at a stream or other water source, the open top design allows the user to quickly scoop up the cool unfiltered water.  Then as the user drinks from the active filtering spout, all sediment and harmful particles are left behind in the bottom of the container.  Consumers can count on one disposable container to last up to 10 days, and they can be purchased individually or in 10- packs.

2.  MULTIPLICATION (making copies of a component but changing it):  The PUR-2-Go is PUR’s latest product targeting the needs of busy students and singles. Its two compartment pitcher is easily filled through PUR’s new electronic filter system. Integrated in the lid, this new filter works so fast that it filters instantly and makes a holding compartment in the pitcher unnecessary. The two compartments of the pitcher easily break in two. The bigger compartment can stay in the kitchen while the smaller compartment transforms into a reusable bottle of water to go.  This makes the use of bottled water unnecessary because the PUR-2-Go is just as easy to handle and quick to use. This grab and go usability of the PUR-2-Go makes it more convenient for everybody to commit to a greener lifestyle.

Fridge family center 3.  DIVISION (dividing a component physically, functionally, or preserving):  To increase the product portfolio for new customers and satisfaction among current customers, PUR is offering it’s first PUR Family Fridge Center. This unit, which offers chilled, purified water to go for the whole family, is kept in the refrigerator and features 4 travel bottles and a pitcher which nicely lock into place together. It’s easy for families to either buy the whole system or upgrade their current system to the newly added travel bottles. Bottles can be all clear or all different colors for different members of the family. The bottles and pitcher will automatically always be filled with chilled water, via the water line in the fridge, and at any time, family members can grab their bottle to go and reinsert it later to have a fresh bottle ready in minutes.

Woman using pur straw 4.  SUBTRACTION (removing an essential component):  The PUR Straw is a new lightweight, portable water filter. It can be used anywhere you need clean, drinkable water. Use it in a cup, bottle, or directly from the source. It is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, backpackers, runners, bikers, athletes, travelers, military and emergency kits. It features an inline filter that cleans the water as you drink through the straw. Color changing indicator stripes on the side let you know when to replace your PUR Straw. Bundle 15 straws together to get a full-size filter to filter large quantities of water at once

Large ethiopia-water-crisis-img_9226 5.  ATTRIBUTE DEPENDENCY (creating new dependencies between attributes of a product and its environment):  Understanding that individuals, families, and varying cultures utilize many different sized and shaped containers for storing and transporting water, PUR Fit-All brings a flexible filtration solution to the developing markets. It is a coated fabric filter with elastic edges, and a simple spring mechanism that allows the filter to expand or contract to fit the rims of various containers. Water can be poured into an empty container and filtered as it fills, or the water can be filtered as it is poured out of a holding container into the final ‘clean water’ unit. Each fabric filter lasts for about to 10 uses, or 100 gallons of water. The fabric nature of this product also lends to the development of a PUR filter soap to let users wash and reuse each lid hundreds of times.

Shower 6.  MULTIPLICATION (making copies of a component but changing it): The PUR Shower is a new portable shower system, that gives users clean bathing water anywhere in the world. Clean drinking water is of utmost importance, but this does little good when people are bathing in unsanitary conditions. It is ideal for the outdoor enthusiast, but it is vital for the developing world. Washing with dirty water can lead to disease and infection. The durable bag and valve system allows for reuse, while the filter can be replaced after several uses. The water is filtered using gravity to pull the clean water into the bag before the user opens the lower valve for a clean shower. It can be hung-up for easy use anywhere clean water is needed as a tempo- rary solution, or even a more permanent mounting solution. The PUR Shower system assures consumers that the water they wash with is equally as clean as the water they drink.

Pur globe7.  SUBTRACTION (removing an essential component):  PUR Globe is just the product for developing markets with its amazing versatility and the same great filtration offered by our other PUR products. It is a spherical filter with the outer layer made of a membrane that filters out particles larger than 15-30 nm and a removable inner core of activated charcoal. The PUR Globe can be used in a multitude of vessels or containers to filter 0.5 gallons per minute. There are 2 built in color changing indicators to show when the water has been purified and to signal when the inner charcoal filter has to be changed. PUR Globe could be used by just dropping it into a vessel with water and shaking the vessel gently to facilitate water flow through the globe. The product lasts up to 2 years with the charcoal filter changed every 3 months.