This year has seen the appearance of many awesome new inventions which help make life easier, more comfortable — and in some cases — more enjoyable.
We decided to pick out 18 of the most interesting. Hopefully, we’ll live to seem them all take on a major role in our lives!
The Transparent Truck
Every year, thousands of people get hurt or die in traffic accidents, in part because their visibility gets blocked by a lumbering vehicle. This is especially true in Argentina, known for its winding, narrow roads. There, however, Samsung and ad agency Leo Burnett have partnered on a creative solution: a system that relays video footage from the front of a truck to four screens on its back, giving drivers a clear view of what’s ahead.
The ‘Hoverboard’ Scooter
Part Segway, part skateboard, the self-balancing scooter — generally known as a hoverboard, even though it doesn’t actually hover — is easily the year’s most viral product. Once someone hops on, the device uses a pair of electric gyroscopes (one under each pad) to balance automatically, allowing users to speed forward, backward and around by slightly shifting their body weight. That enables all kinds of fun stunts, ranging from hallway races to motorized dance routines.
Virtual-reality headsets, like the Oculus Rift, create escapes. Put one on, and you’re suddenly swimming with dolphins or fighting in the Battle of Waterloo. Microsoft’s HoloLens, by contrast, augments reality — overlaying holograms and data onto existing surroundings, so you’re not «confined to the virtual world,» as designer Alex Kipman puts it. Imagine gamers defending their homes from robot invaders, engineers manipulating 3-D models or surgeons following directions «on» the human body. Early tests indicate all are possible. Already the HoloLens is being used by NASA to mimic Mars’ terrain in labs and by medical students to dissect virtual bodies.
The Pan that teaches you to cook
How hot should the pan be? When do I stir? It it done yet? If you’ve ever cooked an unfamiliar dish, chances are you’ve asked yourself one or more of these questions — and Pantelligent aims to answer them all. Once you select a recipe from its smartphone app, the pan uses Bluetooth and a special heat sensor to offer real-time instructions on your screen, so you’ll know exactly when to flip a steak, for example, if you want it medium rare.
The Book that filters water
An estimated 663 million people globally do not have access to clean drinking water, in part because filtration is complicated and expensive. The Drinkable Book is neither: thanks to a special treatment—developed with a team of scientists over several years—its pages double as water filters, killing over 99% of harmful bacteria during trials in Bangladesh, Ghana and South Africa.
When people think of pasta, they almost always think, I ate way too much and now I feel like crap,” says Brian Rudolph. Not so with his brand, which is made from chickpeas instead of wheat. That simple switch — in a recipe perfected over 10 months of trial and error — has yielded a healthy twist on the al dente dinner. Banza, shorthand for garbanzo pasta, has double the protein and four times the fibre of traditional pasta, and far fewer carbs; it’s also gluten-free. Now Rudolph and his brother Scott plan to reinvent products like pizza and cereal.
The Ocean Vacuum
There’s a glut of plastic trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that’s bigger than Texas—and growing. But the default removal process of chasing it with nets is both costly and time-consuming. Instead, the Ocean Cleanup Project proposes a 62-mile-long (100 km) floating boom — at an estimated cost of $15 million — that would use natural currents to trap trash. (Its net drops roughly 10 ft., or 3 m, below the surface, shallow enough for fish to swim around.) If next year’s trials succeed, a full clean-up operation would aim to start in 2020; internal estimates suggest it could reduce the trash by 42% over 10 years.
The Ball that teaches kids to code
At a time when demand for computer scientists is sky-rocketing, most people get little or no exposure to coding during their formative years. Made by Many, a New York City-based digital-consulting firm, is trying to change that. Its Hackaball toy syncs with a mobile app, allowing users to program how and when it lights up — and then to see how those programs affect their lives in the real world. Enabling social scenarios — rather than a more isolated, screen-based introduction to coding — is the whole point of Hackaball.
The personal pollution detector
In order to avoid potentially harmful pollutants and allergens, it helps to know about the air you’re breathing. That’s where Tzoa comes in. The stationary device uses sensors to evaluate the atmosphere in any given area, measuring factors like temperature, particulate matter (dust, pollen, mould, car exhaust) and UV exposure, and uploads that data to the cloud, so that institutions can conduct air-quality research.