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TPM Idealab: Impact

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words.

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Who says useful things can’t also be pretty?

Equal parts sculpture and cistern, the WarkaWater project, named for the warka tree of Ethiopia, a common meeting place for communities, is meant to provide people living in arid areas access to clean fresh water, plucked right out of thin air.

The water collection tower, conceived of by the Italian design firm Architecture and Vision, will also add to the skyline of the Ethiopian community where it will be introduced in the next few years. The newest version of the tower consists of a conical bamboo lattice more than 30 feet high which suspends a mesh made of a hydrophobic material over a reservoir.

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