11 Brilliant Inventions From Popular Science's Best of What's New 2008
5. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Gadget Award: 3M MPro 110
Ushering in a new wave of digital displays, the 3M MPro (micro-projector) uses LED technology to bring a projector size down to the size of an iPhone. Right now the device is an accessory to a computer or other handhelds, but by next year it is "projected" to be an embedded component of handheld technologies from cell phones to cameras. The 3M Pro displays at standard TV quality (640 by 480 pixels) and projects up to a 50 inch diagonal image in a dark room -- a 10 inch diagonal in bright rooms. Available here. (See runners-up in the Gadget category.)
See related article about the PicoP micro-projector.
6. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Green Award: EcoRock
Finally, there's a new drywall technology and it's green! Called EcoRock, the compound is made of 20 different materials that are industrial by-products And the compound is so green that it congeals without heat, but with water. Serious Materials tried out 5,000 recipes before finding EcoRock, which costs about the same as high-end drywall. What is definitely cost saving about EcoRock is that it is impervious to mold and termites!
Drywall, invented in 1917, is made of ground-up gypsum rock which, heating in 500 degree kilns, producing 20 billion pounds of greenhouse gases per year. (See runners-up in the green tech category.)
7. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Health Award: Recellularized Heart
Under the heading Believe It Or Not, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Doris Taylor, has discovered a way to make heart transplants more successful. By removing the cells of the donor heart and replacing them with the patient's cells, a "recellularized heart" would reduce waiting time for donated heart organs and minimize the risk of patient rejection of the new heart.
Currently, about half of the patients receiving heart transplants die within five years, despite current repair procedures and drugs available to minimize rejection. Ms. Taylor has perfected her procedure in rats and expects, if all goes well, that the new transplant procedure will be available for humans in about 10 years. (See runners-up in the Health category.)
8. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Home Entertainment Award: Sony XEL-1 OLED Television
Sony's first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV is only 3 millimeters thin, produces unbeatable color and the highest contrast possible in a TV. Years in development, Sony was able to produce only an 11 inch screen in OLED, because a special glass is needed for OLED circuitry, which is not produced in large sheets. Once retooling is done to accommodate a larger screen, Popular Science is predicting other TV manufacturers will jump in and, in the meantime, Sony will be making OLED TV's thin enough to stick on your wall. But for right now, Sony is the pioneer. Available for sale here.
(See Pop-Sci's runners-up in the Home Entertainment category.)