Top 10 Inventions Of 'Garage Inventors' Win 2009 Popular Science Awards
4. Rescue Reel: Emergency Escape From Tall Buildings
Kevin Stone an inventor and orthopedic surgeon began working on the Rescue Reel after 9/11 when he vowed to come up with better escape equipment from skyscrapers. Modelled after a fishing reel, the Rescue Reel requires no special knowledge and can take less than a minute from deploying to safety.
A Kevlar cord must be hooked to a secure object or connection point, like between a door and its door frame. Then, after sliding into the one size harness, the escapee would climb out of an open window, and rappel himself down the side of a building. Stone's Rescue Reel has a centrifugal braking system that controls the rate of descent, ensuring a smooth ride down to safety. The Rescue Reel is expected to be available in 2010 for about $1500 and will be able to lower a person to the ground from up to 100 floors.
5. GenShock: Shock Absorbers As A Source Of Vehicle Power
Five guys BS'ing late at night in their dorm room tossed around the idea of a shock absorber that produces power for a vehicle. Next thing you know, the five MIT students -- Shakeel Avadhany, Zack Anderson, Zack Jackowski, Ryan Bavetta and Vladimir Tarasov — had accomplished it, creating an electric motor generator out of a shock absorber by using a hydraulic system.
The diagram on the right shows the basic construct of GenShock: "As the vehicle moves, the shock compresses and its piston pumps fluid to drive a hydraulic motor and an electric-motor generator. The power that's produced lets the engine-driven alternator do less work, saving fuel." (Bland Designs)
Now the GenShock group, having graduated MIT are working with Humvee® on creating its version of the GenShock and they're exploring possibilities with the Office of Naval Research; the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center; and truck builders such as Navistar® and Mack® Trucks.
6. Audeo: Speech And Voice Synthesizer For Neurological Impairments
Invented by Michael Callahan, who at 17 lost his ability to speak as the result of a skateboarding accident, the Audeo is for others who lose that same very valuable ability. Though fortunately Callahan's voice returned within a few weeks, he will probably never forget the experience of losing control of his speech mechanism.
The Audeo is a speech synthesizer to help those who's neurological pathways from the brain to the lungs and speech muscles are impaired, though the pathways from the brain to the vocal cords are undamaged. The device lifts electrical signals from the cords with three electrodes at the neck, which send the signals to a computer that translates them into audible speech sounding through the computer's speakers.
There is still a bit of time before the Audeo is perfected for sale. Callahan hopes, for example, to be able to use a cell phone as a replacement for the computer to synthesize and amplify the speech.