Late last year, Time Magazine selected 25 inventions that “are making the world better, smarter, and – in some cases – a little more fun.” Past editions have included underground parks, gluten sniffers, and the desktop DNA lab. For 2016, the list included:
- Spherical tires. Intended for self-driving cars, spherical tires move in every direction, allowing cars to maneuver in new and unexpected ways. For example, a car can slide sideways into a parallel parking space. A critical difference between current tires and spherical tires is magnetic levitation. That’s right. The tires hover beneath the car instead of being bolted on.
- Levitating lightbulbs. This wireless floating lightbulb “relies on electromagnetism to levitate and spin, and on resonant inductive coupling – a technical term for wireless power transmission – to shine.” The bulbs were so popular, the company created levitating clocks (with custom orbits that can be set for one minute or one year) and planters.
- Smarter toothbrushes. The war on gum disease is never over. Dental hygiene slackers may find using these electric toothbrushes, which vibrate every 30 seconds to remind users to switch brush position, more rewarding. Next up: a more satisfying flossing experience.
- Assistive tableware. If you have a loved one with a cognitive disability, assistive tableware may provide a mealtime solution, helping users eat more and maintain their dignity. The trick is in the design – bright colors, wide rubber bases, and easy-to-hold cups and flatware.
- Playful prosthetics. A new prosthetic arm for children encourages play and is likely to make siblings and friends jealous. “When they need a hand, they have one. But they can replace it with any number of toy-like attachments, all of which are compatible with” a famous brand of building blocks.
It’s always impressive to discover what a well-leavened blend of technology and cleverness will produce.
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