Top 10 Inventions Of 'Garage Inventors' Win 2009 Popular Science Awards
Popular Science has announced the 2009 Invention Awards for the top 10 groundbreaking inventions that originated from the minds and perseverance of individual inventors. These inventions did not have big companies behind them with a big research lab and lots of money. You won't see the likes of Apple® or Motorola® or Honda® among this list. Just folks like you and me whose inventions will make a major impact on the way we live, work, learn, play, and even manage intelligence in battle.
1. Sixth Sense: Your World Is Your Interface
Pranav Mistry, and MIT graduate student and his adviser, Pattie Maes, have contrived this fascinating gesture-controlled computer interface that recognizes and responds to hand signals and conducts appropriate searches. Though the SixthSense is some time away from being available, it can already recognize a book placed in front of the camera, retrieve the book's Amazon listing from the Web, and project the book's rating onto the cover of the book!
The SixthSense can also place a watch face on its user's wrist if he needs to know the time. It can place a phone call when its user taps a virtual phone pad in the palm of his hand... Sounding like science fiction yet?
2. Ripsaw: The World's Fastest Tank
Twin brothers, Geoff and Mike Howe, created one of the largest and fastest unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) ever produced, and the U.S. military is impressed enough to have tested the gigantic device. At 60 miles per hour, and the ability to withstand a jump 50 feet in the air, the Ripsaw demanded a total makeover of the traditional tank. Now completed, the Ripsaw can take on the tasks of other UGVs about 40 mph faster. As Mike Howe says, "The Ripsaw doesn't have to avoid obstacles; it drives over them."
The Ripsaw's task is to drive ahead of a convoy to use its six cameras and sensor technology to detect roadside bombs or ambushes and send images and signals to the command center, which can alert the convoy to what's ahead in a timely manner. The Ripsaw will be ready for production this fall. The Howe brothers have 8 patents either awarded or pending on the 'mean machine.'
3. ReWalk: A Robotic Exoskeleton
The inventor of ReWalk, Israeli engineer Amit Goffer, learned the hard way that wheelchair mobility is terribly outdated. In 1997, he broke his neck as the result of a fall, and the wheelchair's limitations were experienced by Goffer first hand. He set to work on a design for a wearable exoskeleten, kind of like a battery powered suit of armor for the lower body.
When he discovered that a whole body device would need too many batteries and be too heavy to be efficient, he decided to build instead a lower body exoskeleten that depended on the use of crutches as well as motors and batteries. Because Goffer can not use his arms to use the crutches, he will not be able to make use of the ReWalk himself.
The ReWalk is more complicated than it looks. Its 44 pounds of off-the-shelf components are controlled by hundreds of algorithms and codes and sensors that all enable standing, sitting, walking, and even climbing stairs. Radi Kaiof, a ReWalk tester had not walked in 20 years, but when he's strapped into the ReWalk, he's a different man.
"I speak eye-to-eye with people, not from the bottom up," he says. "There is one life in a wheelchair, and this is a new life."