Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2014: Are They Really the Best This Year?
Several new devices have been unveiled this year. Some have been great while others leave a few things to be desired. Recently, Time Magazine released its list of best inventions for 2014. Of note, Apple’s smart watch, the selfie stick (monopod), and Microsoft Surface Pro made it to this list. Do you agree with Time’s choices? Examine these inventions and consider contemplating on whether or not they really deserve the distinction.
The Hoverboard is a futuristic skateboard that, as the name suggests, hovers. Developed by California-based firm Hendo, this device is capable of floating around an inch above a conductive surface like copper or aluminum. We’re not sure what makes this invention better than the Hoverbike to be included in Time’s list of best inventions when it is very expensive, can only levitate over conductive roads or paths (such a rarity!), and has an awful battery life of only around 15 minutes.
2. Supersmart Spacecraft
Created by the Indian Space Research Organization, the Mangalyaan is a super smart spacecraft that came into prominence for the feat of landing on Mars on first attempt. The spacecraft cost $74 million to build.
3. Nuclear Fusion Reactor
In October this year, Lockheed Martin, a globally renowned advanced technology company, reportedly achieved a technological breakthrough that is expected to enable the creation of compact fusion reactors. These compact reactors will be using a “magnetic mirror confinement” design to control the reaction, and will be small enough to be attached on the back of a truck.
4. Witricity – Wireless Electricity
Said to be developed to be used on Toyota cars and PCs from Intel, Witricity’s wireless electricity technology involves the use plug-in coils that create magnetic fields capable of powering objects that are up to 8 feet away. This new technology has been tested on Toyota cars that made use of charging mats and Intel PCs equipped with charging pads.
5. 3D Printing
3D printing technology is not new and it is certainly not a 2014 invention. However, there have been 2014 3D printers invented that can demonstrate the kind of promising future 3D printing technology has.
6. Apple Watch
Time seems to be all praises for the Apple Watch.The magazine considers the iPhone maker’s attempt at a smart watch as the best as Apple, according to Time, “wholly reimagines the computer for the wrist using a touchscreen and physical buttons.” Smart watches have been in existence for years now with Sony as the first major manufacturer to do it. Time must have thought that Apple’s new device has addressed the many things earlier smart watches have been having, although it’s not easy ignoring the short battery life issue.
The Blackphone was touted as an extremely secure phone, addressing the growing need for security and privacy of ordinary mobile phone users. After several revelations of government spying, mobile phone manufacturers have finally decided that it’s time to create highly secure devices. There’s no question that the idea of a highly secure smartphone is one of the best inventions of 2014 although whether or not it is secure enough is still out in the open.
8. Coolest Cooler
There’s no technological breakthrough in this invention except that it is a highly functional invention. Dubbed as a “smart cooler,” this unit was conceived by a former medical sales representative. Aside from efficiently cooling beverages and food items, it also has a blender, LED light lid, and a USB charger. Interestingly, this cooler holds the record of being the highest funded Kickstarter project.
9. Chip that Prevents Slouching
Created by Lumo BodyTech, this chip is called the Lumo Lift. What it does is to raise reminders (through vibrations) to stop its wearer from slouching after analyzing the body’s neck and spinal positions.
10. BMW i3
This is an electric car described by BMW as “the ultimate driving machine.” It features a novel design that enables acceleration or braking using just one pedal, said to result in more energy-efficient driving. It also has a backup gas motor for generating power to recharge the batteries.
11. Microsoft Surface Pro 3
The Asus Transformer laptop had this idea (a tablet-laptop) introduced to the market first but it seems Microsoft’s attempt is great enough to earn Time’s praise.12. Ringly
Ringly is a device that can be called a “smart ring.” It was created to serve as an alert tool for notifications on the wearer’s smartphone. Yes, it has to be used with a smartphone to serve its purpose. The Logbar Ring appears to be a better idea.
This invention by a pharmacy owner is a greatly advantageous little device for patients with multiple prescriptions. According to its creator, TJ Parker, the ultimate goal in having PillPack is to make the pharmacy experience simpler for everyone.
Developed by the Queensland University of Technology with backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, superbanana is a genetically modified (to be vitamin A enriched) agricultural product meant to solve eye health problems.
15. Copenhagen Wheel
With a price of $799, this standard size bike wheel can be used on any bike to enhance the whole biking experience. It comes with sensors to track road conditions and air temperature. It also has a battery-powered motor that can kick in to support a biker to pursue longer distances.
16. Sign Language Translator
San Francisco-based MotionSavvy created the Uni sign language translator, a tablet with an attachment that provides motion-sensing and voice recognition capabilities to translate, in real time, American Sign Language signs into spoken words.
As the name itself infers, this is a blood filter. It was developed by Aethlon Medical filter Ebola viruses and suck them out of the body. This certainly is one timely and very useful invention that should even deserve the top spot of Time’s listing of best inventions for 2014.
18. Selfie Stick and Hairbrush
Many would probably refer to the “selfie stick” as the monopod and it’s likely that many would think of it as a good invention. However, there are also many who find it disdainful or ridiculous.19. GE Aros
This is basically what many would refer a “smart air conditioner.” It is equipped with sensors and a computer to turn on, turn off, or adjust settings depending on the need. Aros owners claim to have reduced their electric bills after using it.
20. Blue Room
Not really the kind of invention many would expect, the Blue Room is basically a setup developed by Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon. It is said to help relax or calm down prisoners, reducing bad behavior.
21. Osmo’s Reflective AI Attachment
Designed to address the alarming rise of sedentary lifestyles brought about by tablet computers, a former Google engineer created this attachment to help encourage children to be physically active even as they play with their tablets.
22. 94fifty Basketball
Simply put, this is a “smart basketball.” It’s a basketball with embedded sensors and radios to generate and transmit data that can help improve basketball gaming. It’s ‘a $200 investment for those who want to improve their basketball skills.
23. Edible Wrappers
The idea sounds silly but it’s not that bad that it merited Time’s acknowledgment. Wrappers are generally exposed parts of a food product’s packaging so it does not make much sense eating it when it may have gone through many dirty hands or surfaces.
24. Electric Objects
Electric Objects are essentially flat display panels that show images of art works. They are designed to adjust their brightness depending on ambient lighting levels.
This is a set of action figures designed for young girls to promote girl empowerment. Well, it certainly is one of the most contentious items on Time’s list. There’s nothing wrong with female empowerment but something like this already existed several years ago and will likely continue existing. There are no highlight events in 2014 that would seem to justify listing a “girl power line of action figures” as one of the best inventions of the year.
Time Magazine’s “best inventions” list is mostly based on how the inventions are “making the world better” so technological arguments against some of the items listed won’t be too appropriate here. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to deny that some of the inventions listed don’t really deserve that much recognition.