32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow

>> Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The New York Times magazine listed 32 innovations in an article recently. Some sounds cool, some makes me wonder whether they are being serious or not. Well, to each their own.

Here's a few of my favourites:

1 Electric Clothes
Physicists at Wake Forest University have developed a fabric that doubles as a spare outlet. When used to line your shirt — or even your pillowcase or office chair — it converts subtle differences in temperature across the span of the clothing (say, from your cuff to your armpit) into electricity. And because the different parts of your shirt can vary by about 10 degrees, you could power up your MP3 player just by sitting still. According to the fabric’s creator, David Carroll, a cellphone case lined with the material could boost the phone’s battery charge by 10 to 15 percent over eight hours, using the heat absorbed from your pants pocket. Richard Morgan

26 CSI: Bathroom
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard are working on a technology that would make household cleaning supplies much smarter — almost like a sprayable forensics team. When the spray hits a surface where there are pathogens present, like your bathroom sink, it would bind to the bad stuff and turn a color — orange, say, for E. coli. Then you could knock it out with a stronger disinfectant. Nathaniel Penn

28 Michelin Star TV Dinner
Frozen food may soon be on par with anything you can get at a three-star restaurant. Sous vide — a process in which food is heated over a very long period in a low-temperature water bath — has been used in high-end restaurants for more than a decade. (Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud were early proponents.) But the once-rarefied technique is becoming mass market. Cuisine Solutions, the company that pioneered sous vide (Keller hired it to train his chefs), now supplies food to grocery stores and the U.S. military. Your local Costco or Wegmans may sell perfectly cooked sous vide lamb shanks, osso buco or turkey roulade. Unlike most meals in the freezer aisle, sous vide food can be reheated in a pot of boiling water and still taste as if it were just prepared. And because sous vide makes it almost impossible to overcook food, it’s perfect for the home cook. Fortunately, sous vide machines are becoming more affordable. “It’s like the microwave was 30 years ago,” Keller says. Michael Ruhlman

One link leads to another, and I arrived at The Innovation Whiteboard Winner, also from the NYT online magazine. Last month they invited readers to submit their innovation ideas online, "whether a theoretical invention, an ingenious reimagining of an everyday item or simply a nifty idea." There'll also be a link from there to see all the other submissions. These are the kind of ideas I hoped people will submit when I organized this blog's first giveaway.

I like the ones they chosen to feature, especially the second and last one. Here they are:

Beach Skates
“Big soda bottles cut in half and duct taped to my shoes mean I can use my power kite to skate down the beach.” MARK LANGFORD, ENGLAND

Response from Paola Antonelli, curator in MoMA's department of architecture and design:
The early testers of new materials and innovative solutions, the true pioneers, are not only engineers or scientists. Surfers, dude! That’s where it’s at. They and all the other impatient daredevils out there. Progress would not happen without them.

Light-Up Umbrella
“The illuminated shaft of this umbrella will allow motorists and cyclists to see you from a distance and slow down.” MIKE WARREN, SAN FRANCISCO

Response from James Dyson, industrial designer and founder of Dyson Inc.:
A good precaution for pedestrians at night or in fog — and a bright idea in the evolution of the umbrella. Just remember, a good umbrella is driven by function — it must first keep you dry. This idea tackles that and moves on to even more improvements.

Soda Refizzer
“If you don’t drink a liter of soda within 24 hours of opening, it goes flat. Next time this happens, drop this refizzer pill into your soft drink to restore its original pop-and-fizz glory.” ANNA BUCHBAUER, NEW YORK

Response from Ben Kaufman, founder of Quirky, a social product-development company:
Beverage companies have tried to address this with various sizes of bottles and cans, but the underlying problem still exists. Drinks go flat fast! If there is the chemistry to support this idea, you have a home run, in my opinion.

Toddler Painting Station
“Recently I made a painting station for my child in a large cardboard box; inside I taped several paper cups to hold different colors. I was able to leave a 2-year-old painting alone.” ERIC WILHELM, OAKLAND, CALIF.

Response from Martha Stewart, Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the author of "Martha's American Food" :
As a recent grandmother of two who also has rather fragile home interiors, I think I could use this idea to best advantage. Maybe it could be expanded to be able to be collapsible and folded so it could be stored when the children are absent


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