The other night, I watched SlingShot, a documentary about Segway inventor Dean Kamen. Despite some withering reviews (this one from the LA TImes is pretty spot-on), I was curious about Kamen ever since reading a profile of him a couple of years ago. Now a self-made millionaire, he has invented dozens of medical devices, a self-balancing wheelchair, and is now working on the SlingShot, an off-grid water-purification plant.
The film, hagiographic and stiff, paints Kamen as a lone, eccentric genius in the mold of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, or Nikola Tesla. He is a lifelong bachelor (confirmed by an interview with his sweet, elderly parents), too married to his work to have time for a family. He pilots a helicopter from his house to his downtown research lab. He wears identical clothes everyday -- Jay Leno-esque head-to-toes denim. The list of genius tropes goes on, building Kamen up to the task of taking on the world's biggest problem: clean water.Read More