1. Smart contact lenses:
A smart contact lens that can monitor the glucose levels of diabetes sufferers was developed by Google in January 2014.
Coming out of the company’s Google X skunk works division, best known for developing Google Glass, the contact lenses use chips and sensors the size of glitter to offer an early warning to the wearer by analyzing tears.
“As you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study,” the Google engineers said. “At Google X, we wondered if miniaturized electronics – think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter and an antenna thinner than a human hair-might is a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy.”
2. A camera that can record the movement of light:
A camera that captures light at 4.4 trillion frames per second was invented by researchers in Japan, setting a record for the word’s fastest camera.
The Sequentially Timed All-optical Mapping photography (STAMP) camera is so fast that it can capture the movement of light.
“High – speed photography is a powerful tool for studying fast dynamics in photochemistry, sprintronics, phononics, fluidics and plasma physics,” the researchers said.
3. Invisibility cloaks created with laser-stitching:
Scientists at the University of Cambridge developed a new method to manufacture invisible “metamaterials” using lasers, leading to the possibility of invisibility cloaks.
Using an unfocussed laser light to stitch particles of gold together, the researchers created a material that reflected light through inverse refraction, making objects covered by it appear invisible.
Like a lot of technology in this field, the cloaking device is most likely to find its first applications in the military.
4. Printable, Bendable Batteries:
A flexible, long-lasting rechargeable battery that holds the potential to transform wearable devices was developed by a California – based startup in 2014.
Imprint Energy overcame current limitations of available battery technologies by using a zinc-polymer battery, enabling a new generation of power units that could be used in medical devices wearable sensors and on-body electronics.
“(ZincPoly) enables the production of ultrathin, flexible, high energy density rechargeable batteries for significantly lower cost and without the design limitations of safety concerns of other battery technologies,” Imprint Energy said.
5. Solar –panel windows:
A breakthrough in quantum dot research by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory paved the way for windows that double as solar panels.
Quantum dots (nanocrystals made of a semiconductor) were embedded in a transparent polymer in order to capture the sun’s energy and harvest it as power.
“The key accomplishment is the demonstration of large-area luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) that use a new generation of specially engineered quantum dots,” said Victor Klimov, lead researcher at the centre of advanced solar photophysics at Los Alamos.
6. Smartglasses for the blind:
Smartglasses designed to assist blind and partially sighted people by using a specially adapted 3D camera were developed by researchers at the University of Oxford.
The camera separates and highlights objects ahead and projects them on the lens to maximize the remaining vision of the wearer.
They are now being developed further through a partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People, with hopes that they will be available commercially in 2016.
7. Shape-changing robot:
A major advancement was more in soft robotics, an emerging field that ditches rigid parts used in traditional robots in order to deal with uncertain and changing tasks and environments.
Engineers from Cornell and Harvard Universities created a shape-changing robot to be used in extreme conditions in ways robots never could be used before.
“The soft robot is safe to interact with during operations and its silicone body is innately resilient to a variety of adverse environment conditions,” a paper describing the technology stated.
“(These include) snow, puddles of water, direct exposure to flames, and the crushing force of being run over by an automobile.”
8. Bionic plant:
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the world’s first bionic plant in March, capable of replicating and even improving upon a plant’s natural ability to photosynthesise.
Carbon nanotubes were integrating into the leaves of several lab plants to allow them to absorb light 30% more efficiently that normal plant.
“The repair themselves, they are environmentally stable outside, they survive in harsh environments, and they provide their own power source and water distribution,” said lead researcher of the MIT team Michael Strano.
9. Mind-reading and memory recording MRI scan:
The first ever commercial brain scan for the purpose of recording thoughts and memories for future playback took place in September 2014. The inaugural patient of Millenium Magnetic Technologies (MMT) thought recording technology was software developer Anthony Broussard from Houston Texas, who paid around £1, 200 to have his memories preserved.
“Some people call it thought identification but it’s essentially mind reading,” Donald Marks, founder and chief science officer of MMT, told IBTimes UK. “The visual reconstruction (of the thoughts) is kind of crude right now but the data is definitely there old it will get better, it’s just a matter of refinement.
“That information is stored – once you have recorded that information it’s there forever. In the future we’ll be able to reconstruct the data we have now much better.”
10. Smart expiry label:
A London-based student developed a bio-reactive expiry label that decays at the same rate as food, potentially making a massive dent on the millions of tones of food wasted around the world each year.
The Bump Mark, which was the UK finalist of the James Dyson Award, uses a natural substance to tangibly show when a food product goes off.
“The Bump Mark contains gelatin – a protein – that reacts to environmental conditions, like temperature and light and anything that affects food,” Solveiga Pakstaite, designer of the smart expiry label, told IBTimes UK, “Gelatine sets solid but it has the property that when it is fully expired it loses its structure.”
11. Indian Innovations for the Common Man:
- Mitticool Fridge:
This is super cool (pun unintended)! Designed by Indian engineer Mansukh Bhai Prajapati, the Mitticool fridge is made of clay and requires zero electricity when keep our food fresh for up to 5-6 days!
- Mechanical Tree Climber:
This was developed by D. Ranganathan to scale palm and coconut trees, and is being sold all across South Asia. It costs around Rs. 7000. You need not to worry about falling down since it has a four-lock pin for you’re safely?
- Smart Cane:
Developed in a IIT Delhi lab by Dr. Rohan Paul, the aim behind the smart cane is to facilitate movement for the visually impaired. This device can identify knee-height obstructions at a distance of 3 meters, and is available for Rs. 3000.
- GE’s Vscan:
This pocket-sized imaging device is quite economical when compared with traditional ultrasound machines. It costs about Rs. 4,81,900 and has been really useful in improving prenatal care in the rural areas of India.
- Tata Swach Bulb Purifier:
This was designed as a low-cost water purifier for people who lack access to clean drinking water!
- Low-cost Sanitary Napkins:
Arunachalam Muruganantham made history when he created low-cost sanitary napkins for women in rural India. The machine he has made makes about 120 napkins an hour, and costs something between Rs. 75,000 and 3,000,000. Muruganantham has tied up with various self-help groups, NGO’s and CSR agendas of multinational companies to reach out to remote corners of the country.
- Venus Portable Washing Machine:
This simple looking gadget is really easy to use. A Mumbai-based start-up will be offering this completely functional device for only Rs. 1500, the aim being to reach out to the common man. The gadget will easily fit into a bucket, and will wash 4-5 clothes in one cycle.