Dean Kamen is probably best known to the American public as the guy who invented the Segway but there’s a great deal more to him than a funky, if technologically fascinating, scooter. His previous successful inventions include the first insulin pump and he has recently demonstrated a revolutionary new type of prosthetic arm.
This particular image was taken at the recent FIRST Robotics Competition Midwest Regional in Chicago where Dean made an appearance. As founder of the FIRST organisation, he is looked up to by all the competitors and goes out of his way to visit as many of the competitions as possible during the month or so that they are going on each Spring.
His visit to Chicago was important for another reason, as shown here. He introduced a new LED light bulb that has been developed specifically for sale by FIRST teams to help in fundraising. With a grant from Google to offset the startup costs of producing the bulbs and to get the price down to a point which makes them affordable, the bulbs will be sold by team members with 50% of the cost being retained by the team to help with the rather substantial costs associated with developing their robots and getting them and their teams to the competitions each year.
The bulbs use half the energy of a similar compact fluorescent and pay for themselves well within their 9 year expected lifespan so, if you see them on sale, do consider buying a couple to help both your own budget and the budgets of the robotics team selling them.
Update 4/13/11: I’ve posted all my favourite pictures from the FRC Midwest Regional here in case you want to see the 236 others.