For three consecutive years we’ve scouted out new and exciting technology being used to help make our world and lives better. Some of the technologies we focused on were for our well-being, such as virtual therapy and electronic stethoscope. Others were transport specific, such as the Straddling bus and Martin Jetpack, and of course various inventions were for plain amusement like the glasses-free 3D television and Google TV.
Here is our list for 2012:
10. Transparent Touchpad Laptops
Intel (amongst others) are now creating transparent touchpads and laptops. Made from glass, this invention is geared 100% towards the user, and is programmed to react to all the users’ touches, such as when you want to use the pad as a mouse or rest your wrists while you type!
To top it off, the rectangular bar transmits information without wasting the battery life or taking too much time. Plus, it also looks super slick! Trendhunter says that Intel’s “Nikiski” is opening new windows for Windows and easier living!
9. Fuel-Cell Powered MacBooks
Apple is no stranger to user related innovation and change – they’re always a head of the game. Well, this time they’re looking into using hydrogen fuel cells to power portable electronics. Using this energy method could significantly reduce the size, weight and cost of the fuel cell system. Apple’s reasoning for investigating this option is because they believe that the “country’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels has forced the government to maintain complicated political and military relationships with unstable governments” such as the Middle East.
Using this type of energy to power portable electronics is environmentally friendly because it is a source of renewable energy, and would allow our devices to stay charged for days and weeks on end! Of course, there are challenges associated with this idea and Apple is currently in the first phase of exploration. You’ll have to stay tuned for more details!
8. Hybrid Computer Gamepads
The ever-growing gaming world just got much cooler – your mouse can now double as your game controller. The Chameleon X-1 is the first ever mouse design revolving around the popular Assassin’s Creed console game. This trendy mouse has leather buttons and the Assassin’s Creed ‘A’ insignia located at the back of the mouse.
There have been other versions created in the past, but none of them match-up to this model. This gamepad has 16 wireless buttons you can use too. This is a trend that we are seeing more and more of, and it’s definitely something to keep your eye on for 2012. Let the gamers’ game!
7. Electronic Cotton
Researchers in the US, Italy and France have invented transistors made from cotton fibers, producing “electronic cotton! They’re hoping that their invention will help us understand how we move and interact with our environment. For example, the electric cotton could detect how fast we’re walking across carpet or how we’re affected by our environment (i.e. t-shirts that measure pollutants in the atmosphere). Their main goal is to create “a seamless interface between electronics and textiles.”
The cellulose that makes up cotton already provides natural installation, which makes the fiber conductive, making it the perfect fabric to create an electrical stream through. The researches have already been doing tests where they treat the cotton with a thin layer of conductive polymer (PEDOT). By adding the polymer the cotton becomes a thousand times more conductive than plain cotton, and keeps the mechanical properties untouched.
One of the first tests the researchers did was tie a knotted end of treated cotton to a battery and the other to a LED, and poof! they created an electrical current. Unfortunately the electrons in the cotton fibers aren’t as strong as silicon circuits so we won’t be seeing MP3 clothing anytime soon. Nor will you ever have to worry about feeling the electric charge!
6. Super Memory Drugs
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have discovered that when they inhibited the activity of PKR, a molecule associated with releasing stressful feelings, our ability to retain information increases! For example, when you get sick, PKR will sense the virus and inform your body that something isn’t right. PKR is also found in patients with Alzheimer’s. The molecule releases stress throughout their battle with the disease.
Testing for the super memory drug proved successful when tested on mice in relation to how quickly they learned and remembered information. One particular test included mice using visual cues to find a hidden platform in a pool. It took regular mice a period of several days to remember where the platform was, but it only took the mice without PKR one try after they had learned the route.
This great invention could present great benefits for our ageing population. A pill version is in the works for human use, but it won’t be released for a couple more years.
5. 3D Printable Objects
The geniuses over at Pirate Bay want you to see the brilliance of your own personal 3D photos! The file-sharing site that is known for letting users share multimedia games and software has now included a “Physibles” category for digital files that can be physically created using a 3D printer. Pirate Bay says the section will only contain data that is able and feasible to become physical.
Pirate Bay sees this as the first step along the road of 3D technology, and feels that people are looking forward to creating 3D files that they can use to help them learn about the physical aspects of everything from car parts to organs and more. While this technology is progressing it’s still pretty rare to ever find it in the hands of the average consumer, but of course that’s only a matter of time.
4. Concept Fujitsu Lifebook
Wouldn’t it be nice to just have one place to store your digital camera, laptop and smartphone? Well your prayers have been answered! The new Fujitsu Lifebook (also called Lifebook 2013) is a laptop that comes with, and stores your smartphone, tablet and digital camera all in one laptop. The idea is to provide consumers with an affordable laptop that can sync and update all devices simultaneously from the same place.
The design for the Lifebook was developed by Prashant Chandra after winning a competition Fujitsu was holding. The Lifebook allows all the parts and devices to work together with your computer without having to worry about USB plugs and cords. For example, the digital camera slot on the front of the Lifebook allows for instant connectivity, enabling you to download all your photos straight to the computer. You can also charge your camera this way.
Another interesting part of the design is that the Lifebook doesn’t come with a keyboard because it is also a tablet. The tablet, once slotted in place becomes a keyboard when needed or a second display screen. You can finally have it all in one package!
3. Facebook “If I Die” Application
One of the biggest questions we face today is: what will happen to my Facebook once I die? Well, Willook, an Israeli start up, has created an application specifically designed to help you manage your Facebook after you pass away. The “If I Die” application gives you the option to leave a video or text message that will be automatically posted to your wall once you die.
Once you’ve installed the application you then pick three people on your Facebook to be in charge of making the announcement of your death. The three people will confirm that you have passed away and then the message will be posted.
It might sound creepy but it’s a very practical application that may make many people feel more comfortable about saying a final “online goodbye” to their friends and family. I think we’ll be seeing more and more applications that are focused on helping people notify their online friends that they have passed away – it’s good personal social media management.
2. The Live Shell
The Live Shell is an add-on device that allows you to stream live to the internet from your camera without the help from a computer! This little addition hooks up to your existing camera then sends video and audio output directly to Ustream via a Wi-Fi adapter or Ethernet cable. Live Shell lasts around three hours on three AA batteries or it can run 24/7 if you use an AC adapter.
The video quality is pretty good, and streams at 704 x 528 pixels at approximately 1.5 Mbps. While a computer isn’t required for Live Shell to connect to the internet, you do need a computer or smartphone to control the broadcast. Live Shell is set to be released on February 1st, 2012.
1. Nao Next Gen Bot
I think everyone should have a robot friend! This little guy was created by Aldebaran Robotics and has a 1.6GHz-giving him multi-tasking abilities- and two HD cameras. Originally developed for autistic children, Nao Next Gen Bot can have full conversations with you due to its ability to isolate and recognize specific words in sentences. He can also recognize your face and your movements and can even walk and play catch. Who needs a dog!
Basically you program Nao to do whatever you want him to do – pick your pens up off your office floor, talk to you or encourage you to keep working! You can even teach Nao yo plug himself in when his battery is running low – talk about low maintenance. To-date over 2,000 robots have been sold worldwide, and are currently being used in schools to help teach children.
Well, that was our list for 2012! What do you think? Did we miss anything? Feel free to let us know about other cool inventions shaping our world and our lives.