TIME Magazine is out with its Best Inventions of 2006.
What made the cut? Here are some highlights:
Invention of the Year: YouTube - Video Sharing Site
YouTube has certainly changed the way we communicate with video, and has made would-be Steven Spielbergs and Angelina Jolies out of hundreds of thousands of people. But the lawyer in me bristles with the volume of copyright violations that abound on the site. I won't fault the site's creators for taking the $1.65 billion, but expect to see a rush of lawsuits now that deep-pocketed Google owns the joint. An interesting choice, I think.
Transportation: Clever Car
You expect to see some highly fuel-efficient machines on the list, and this year doesn't disappoint. The coolest looking is the Clever Car, a BMW prototype that gets 108 mpg and can travel at up to 80 mph.
Home Products: Floating Bed
If you're wondering what to do with that spare $1.5 million, pick up one of these babies. Inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, the monolith-bed floats on magnetic fields, and supports up to 2000 lbs. I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that...I'm lying on my incredibly over-priced bed. (Shown on our article on Seven Inventive Ways to Sleep)
Food & Cooking: CrustaStun - Lobster Cooker
Also the winner of the best product name, the CrustaStun eliminates that painful 2 minutes while your lobster boils by...electrocuting them in 5 seconds. If that extra 115 seconds is worth it to you, you can pick up one of these for only $4700. But think twice...you're only $1,495,300 away from the floating bed.
Clothing: Hug Shirt - Virtual Hugs
In case MySpace isn't giving you the deep personal affection you need, in comes the Hug Shirt. Signaled by your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, a friend can call in a hug to you, and the shirt simulates the warmth and pressure of an actual hug.
Toys: Talking Mirror - Home Monitor and Messaging Device
I am not quite sure that this qualifies as a toy (at a cool $20K), but the Talking Mirror satisfies that need you always had to own a magic mirror like in the fairy tales. This one looks like a mirror most of the time, but is connected to your home-automation network. Turn it on and a face appears and lets you know when certain things are happening around the house...dinner is done, company has arrived, etc.
Medicine: Realive - Robotic Suit
Besides making you look like an extra from Tron, the Realive performs a very cool rehabilitative function. The Realive maintains muscle memory in limbs damaged via stroke by mimicking the movements of the other limb. Bend your left arm and the right arm bends along with it. Plus the Realive model totally looks like she could take out the HugShirt model.
Lighting: CeeLite - Flexible Lightbulbs
Of all the products on the list, this one seems like it's going to have the most long-term impact on the way the average person lives (sorry, CrustaStun). The CeeLite is a 1 mm thick flexible light with light-emitting capacitors that light when plugged in. It can also be programmed to dim or flash on contact. When the price of the technology comes down, expect to see this in application everywhere.
There's a bunch more interesting inventions to look at and think about. So, check out Time's list here and let us know what you think!
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