While we may not commute in flying cars (yet), we do live in a time when nearly every day brings a fresh crop of new innovations with staggering vision and creativity. Things we thought impossible—or never even dreamed of—are a reality today. These eight are just a few of the mind-blowing inventions we saw within the past year.
One of the most ambitious and enthusiastically crowdfunded projects ever, the +Pool is a floating pool designed for New York’s East River. It’s not just about cooling off, though; the pool will actually clean the river’s water as well as provide an exciting expansion in terms of community recreation. The pool is scheduled to open in 2016.
I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been frustrated by forgetting a password or being forced to log in to a device at an inconvenient time. Those days could be over with the development of a pill containing a chip that will cause your body to emit a personalized signal designed to be recognized by your electronic devices. Yes, you read that right. Your devices will recognize you by the signal your body gives off, so you never have to worry about a password again.
This sleek, compact water bottle filters your drinking water in seconds. The filter lasts for three months, and there’s no separate step required. You fill the cup, press the filter down, and you’re ready to go.
This extraordinary device looks like a hockey puck, but it uses the temperature differential of both hot and cold beverages to charge your cell phone. Seriously. A hot cup of coffee or an iced tea will recharge your iPhone or Android device. Brilliant.
These BPA-free flexible silicone covers wrap around the sides of fruits and vegetables and provide a seal that preserves the freshness of your leftover produce. Simple and elegant, there’s even a Hugger specially designed for avocados. You can reduce waste and save money by extending the life of your veggies.
Ever had to fumble with your bulky keychain to find the right key for your padlock? Bolt Lock will simplify your life by letting you use your car or truck ignition key to open their rugged and durable padlocks. It’s easy to set the padlock to recognize your car key, and you’ll never have to worry about remembering which key unlocks your trailer, shed or spare tire lock. No extra keys to carry or lose!
These mind-boggling shiny, coffee bean-shaped devices absorb the heat in a cup of coffee, cooling it to the perfect drinking temperature in minutes and actually hold the coffee at that temperature for hours. Though they sound like they’re magic, Coffee Joulies are manufactured in the U.S. and use a phase change material that’s sealed inside the polished stainless steel shell that rapidly absorbs heat and slowly releases it to maintain the ideal coffee temperature.
Hapifork is an electronic fork that records your eating habits and monitors your eating schedule. It uses lights and gentle vibrations to let you know if you’re eating too fast. Integrated mobile apps and an online dashboard give you an overview and access to details that can help you make healthier eating choices.
Looking back, it was hard to narrow the field, given all the extraordinary inventions last year, and I look forward to seeing what new developments 2014 holds.
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Photos: The +Pool, Grayl, Food Huggers, Joulies, Hapifork