The Coolest Thing Bill Gates Has Created Isn’t Microsoft, It’s His Innovative Work In The Developing World

Windows 8 won't be the entrepreneur's lasting legacy.

Bill Gates first became known worldwide as the cofounder of Microsoft, but since then, Gates and his wife Melinda have become almost better known for their charitable efforts. The Gates Foundation has taken on global issues that often seem too big to tackle, but through grants and partnerships with other organizations, the foundation has made significant steps in such areas as the eradication of polio, a solution to climate change and the promotion of sanitation and hygiene.

Gates has committed to giving away 95 percent of his fortune over time, and since its inception, the foundation has given away more than $28 billion. Most of those funds have come from Gates himself, and the billionaire is famous for asking other billionaires to also give away their money.

Below, we highlight some of our favorite innovations from the man who's proven himself to be brilliant at building a giant in the tech industry and then transferring those same problem-solving skills to help save people's lives on a global scale.


This takeout container that might be our best best against Zika.

The square white carton looks more like something used to hold lo mein and fried rice, not the key to containing the Zika virus. But for the past several years, researchers in Australia, in partnership with the Gates Foundation, have been developing this carton as a way to stop the spread of a handful of viruses all transmitted by one breed of mosquitoes. 

The Mozzie box contains female eggs of Aedes mosquitoes — those responsible for the spread of diseases like Zika, dengue, yellow fever and more — that have been infected with a bacteria that renders them unable to transmit these viruses. When the eggs hatch and the mosquitoes begin mating in the wild, the bacteria is passed on to any offspring and will continue to be passed on in the future, which creates a new generation of mosquitoes also unable to transmit certain viruses.    

While the spread of a disease is normally counterintuitive to the goals of the Gates Foundation, this time, the transmission of what is essentially a sexually transmitted disease for mosquitoes will help decrease the number of humans who would become infected with other life-threatening illnesses, CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann explained at a Code Conference last year.

This recycling system that produces water and electricity.

Gates famously debuted his version of modern-day alchemy by offering Jimmy Fallon a glass of recycled water before the host knew where it had come from. Funded by the Gates Foundation, the Janicki Omniprocessor can turn human waste into clean drinking water in minutes as well as create enough electricity to run the processor and have some left over to feed into the grid.

"The water tasted as good as any I've had out of a bottle. And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It's that safe," Gates writes on his blog.

Worldwide, 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation and more than 700 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. One Omniprocessor is able to continually provide water for up to 100,000 people, but the real goal is to improve sanitation in communities. 

The machine was brought to Senegal in 2015, and providing for the handful of variables that are unable to be tested during the prototype stage, such as working with local government and the public's reaction, the Omniprocessor worked as well as it was predicted it would. 

This tiny medicine pump that would revolutionize drug treatments.

Implanted under a patient's skin near the abdomen, this tiny device is filled with medicine and delivers treatment regularly over the course of six to 12 months. 

The pump was developed by Intarcia Therapeutics to counter the human error that can sometimes affect drug treatments, including patients forgetting to take a dose. Currently, the pump is being used to treat type 2 diabetes, but with the additional investment by the Gates Foundation, its use is hoped to be expanded to HIV prevention. 

Currently, over 36 million people worldwide live with HIV. The most effective way to decrease this number is to prevent transmission. In areas of high HIV rates, this is commonly done through the prescription of a pill that must be taken daily and becomes increasingly less effective when not taken consistently. 

"There's a vital need for an HIV/AIDS intervention that allows those at risk to incorporate prevention more easily into their daily lives," Desmond-Hellmann told the Boston Globe in a statement.

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Cover image via JStone /

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