The toilet is broken -- and not because it won't flush.
This unsightly piece of technology, which everyone uses but no one seems to think much about, is in desperate need of an overhaul, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which launched a challenge to "reinvent the toilet."
The foundation announced $41.5 million worth of grants on Tuesday aimed at getting someone to reengineer the flushing porcelain pot, which has been in use since the 1700s.
"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," Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation's global development program, said in a statement. "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."http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/innovation/07/19/toilet.design.gates/index.html?hpt=hp_bn11