The year 2007 saw a number of groundbreaking inventions from many sectors. Medical technology, personal communication, sports safety, energy saving breakthroughs, and other gadgetry saw huge advances throughout the year. However, some inventions simply outshine the rest of the pack and deserve higher mention. In this article, we will examine the top 10 inventions of 2007 and what makes them a cut above the rest!
1) Air conditioner that controls “superbugs”
The Kunne air conditioning system is a tremendous breakthrough in climate control: the first ever AC that controls both heat and humidity! By controlling both of these elements, buildings such as hospitals can regulate the flow of viruses, mold, and germs in the air. This will, in theory, help prevent such buildings from becoming “sick buildings” where people get sick simply by working there or visiting. If the Kunne system becomes widespread, the days of catching “that bug that’s been going around” might become a thing if the past!
2) Electro Needle Biomedical Sensor Array
Tired of sticking needles into your flesh just to run a blood test? With the electro needle biomedical sensor array, this painstaking task might not be necessary for much longer. It is a small patch of a device that contains electro-chemically treated probes. When it gets applied to a patient’s skin, the probes perform an astonishingly accurate determination of chemical readings in the patent’s bloodstream without having to withdraw any actual blood. In this way, a patient’s electrolytes, toxins, carbohydrates, proteins, bacteria, and even viruses can be spotted without a single needle, all through this one patch. This patch could spell a whole new era in disease prevention, as those who refuse to get needle tests out of fear no longer have an excuse to avoid those annual checkups!
3) Diesel Exhaust Purification System
In these environmentally conscious times, it seems that everyone is looking for ways to protect the environment and lower pollution. This is exactly what Raymond Covit, a Los Angeles mechanic, did with his diesel exhaust purification system. This incredible invention forces diesel engines to re-breathe their own exhaust fumes, a drastic change from the engines of today which simply spew their fumes into the air we breathe. If Covit’s system catches on, we can expect a significant reduction in vehicle-based air pollution, not to mention those hideous black clouds we see pumping into the air during our morning commute. That’s something we can all be happy about!
4) Sports safety clothing that hardens on impact
The Dow Corning Active Protection System (named after its creator) is a new type of clothing material for athletes and bikers. The clothing is soft and flexible in the normal course of events, but contains a never-before-seen security feature: the clothes harden and become rigid upon any type of hard impact! This protects the wearer in the event of nasty falls and collisions, during which their clothes will protect any skin that is covered by them. Best of all, the material bounces back to its regular, flexible consistency after you are out of harm’s way and is completely washing machine safe. Anyone involved in extreme sports like skateboarding, BMX bikes, rock crawling, or rugby may soon find that these clothes are the standard apparel!
5) Organic light-emitting diode
Organic light-emitting diodes (or OLEDs) are said to have the potential to change the way we light our homes and design clothing. OLEDs are simply thin strips of plastic with the ability to conduct electricity and harness solar power for later use. The applications of this technology are virtually limitless, such as changing the color of clothing. Another novel use (no doubt suggested by the owner of a sports bar) is OLED strips on beer cans that display up-to-the-minute sports scores. The best part is that OLEDs are significantly more energy efficient than today’s light bulbs, paving the way for guilt-free innovation and lighting possibilities!
6) Steam-O-Lene Engine
Enraged over high gas prices and wasteful engines, Bruce Crower decided that it would be more productive to do something about it than complain about it. The result? The fascinating Steam-O-Lene engine that makes more efficient use of steam to squeeze more life out of every gas tank. While the typical engine wastes ¾ of its energy in the form of heart, Crower’s engine (a single-cylinder diesel with 8HP) uses that heat to create steam, thus recapturing some of that precious lost energy. It runs much the same way that conventional four-stroke combustion engines do, but just as the Steam-O-Lene finishes the fourth stroke, water is squirted into the 1,500 degree cylinder. This intense heat and the ensuing reaction of the water creates steam, which generates a 1,600-fold expansion in volume and drives a piston down to create some more power.
The end result is more of that lost heat being converted to power strokes that actually move the car forward instead of evaporating into nothingness.
7) The Green Brick
While clay bricks have become a fixture in American construction, inventor Henry Liu has a new vision: a green brick. His brick is made entirely of fly ash, which is a major waste product of coal power plants that simply sits in a landfill after it is produced. And rather than solidifying under extreme heat like regular bricks do, the green brick forms under pressure. This saves a considerable amount of energy and costs some 20% less, which puts a smile on manufacturers’ faces. They are even desirable from a construction standpoint because the way they are molded leads to smoother, more uniform surfaces that slash precious time off of the bricklaying process.
8) StarChase Pursuit Management System
If you were planning on orchestrating a heart-pumping police chase anytime soon, this device might give you reason to reconsider. The StarChase Pursuit Management system uses a laser-guided “gun” that is mounted on the front grill of squad cars. The beam can tag fleeing vehicles at almost any speed with a GPS tracker that will retain the data and forward it in real-time back to police headquarters for further analysis and use in assisting backup patrols. Bad news for thieves and drug dealers, but great news for the crime fighters.
9) Blood type conversion
It used to be that if you needed type-O blood, nothing but that would suffice. This has long been a vexing problem for blood banks, as type-O negative is by far the most valuable blood commodity there Is. However, testing is underway for “Blood Simple”, a device that Danish researchers created to convert other blood types to O with the aid of bacteria. The crux of the discovery? Two isolated enzymes made by bacteria that can erode the sugar molecules which demarcate types A, B, and AB-negative blood from one another. This would more or less convert them to type O, greatly increasing the potential supply of this highly sought-after blood type. With technology like this on the horizon, blood transfusion shortages may not plague us for very much longer!
10) Apple iPhone
Named Time Magazine’s 2007 Invention of the Year, the iPhone has delighted critics since Steve Jobs dramatically unveiled it at the MacWorld convention earlier this year. In one device, the iPhone consolidates a wireless phone, an iPod, a web browser, a camera, and an e-mail communicator. The Internet is rendered much as it looks on normal computers and easily navigated with a super-intuitive touch screen. The iPhone also boasts a massive 8GB of storage for your music, movies, pictures, or documents. And gone are the days of cheap, fast-dying cell phone batteries: the iPhone offers 24 hours of life for continuous music playback, and as long as 12 hours for continuous video. With so much power and capability packed into one gadget, it is no wonder the iPhone took home Time’s top invention honors!