TIME Magazine has announced its annual list of The 100 Best Inventions of the year. The Apple AirPods Pro, Dyson Airwrap and adidas FUTURECRAFT.LOOP were some of 2019’s winners, and this year’s list is no less impressive.
To come up with the list, TIME consolidates nominations from its editors and correspondents around the world and through an online application process. Each contender is subsequently judged according to originality, creativity, effectiveness, ambition and impact.
The resulting inventions span from a mind-reading interface to a mini home brewery and a hyperrealistic robo-dog for emotional support. We’ve picked out 12 of the most life-changing innovations we’d love to own from the list (in no particular order). Who’s with us?
Beauty: Dyson Corrale
First thing that caught our eye in the beauty category is the Dyson Corrale straightener, introduced earlier in March. It is the first hair straightener to feature innovative flexing plates that mould to the shape of your hair to distribute heat more evenly and efficiently, offering greater control and less damage to the strands. Its platinum sensor system regulates the temperature of the plates 100 times a second to deliver optimum heat levels. Plus, it boasts up to 30 minutes of cord-free use and charges fully in just 70 minutes. W dyson.com
Not everyone has a green thumb, even if their life depends on it. Whether you’re one of the fortunate few or not, the Gardyn is a gardening solution for all. This AI-powered vertical indoor-growing system lets users choose from 32 types of fruits, vegetables, greens, herbs and flowers to grow and harvest right in your home. No backyard or garden needed. Simply “plant” seedpods into the Gardyn (available with an additional monthly fee for membership and seed delivery) and its companion app will monitor light, humidity and soil saturation via cameras to update users when the crops are ready. W mygardyn.com
Entertainment: PlayStation 5
Pre-orders for Sony’s PlayStation 5 have already sold-out on the official website and most gaming retailers in the country, so it’s no surprise that this gaming console makes the list. Called a “gaming revolution”, the PS5 debuts with a graphics processor nearly 10 times that of its predecessor – offering lightning speed, stunning visuals of up to 8K and breathtaking immersion for a range of next-gen games. Separately, Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons also earned coveted spots on the list. W sony.com.my
Experimental: MIT Media Lab AlterEgo
While the AlterEgo doesn’t exactly read your thoughts, it comes close. The non-invasive, wearable neural interface allows users to converse with machines, artificial intelligence assistants, services and other people without any voice or observable movements – simply by formulating simple queries in your mind. This headset’s sensors read the signals that formulation sends to areas that would be triggered if you had said it aloud, such as your tongue and palate, then send them to a device to perform the task, such as Googling the weather. It also uses a bone conduction speaker that only you can hear to respond to your query. The technology is currently being tested in limited hospital settings to assist patients with multiple sclerosis and ALS to communicate. W mit.edu
Food & Drink: Air Vodka
Fancy vodka, out of thin air? That’s right, Brooklyn-based startup Air Co. is changing the way vodka is made to be more sustainable. Instead of fermenting grains like corn and wheat which results in carbon emissions, the company has devised a process to distill the spirit with nothing more than water and carbon dioxide. Aside from serving as a base for your White Russian, every carbon-negative bottle that’s produced removes about a pound of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It’s even NASA-approved too. W aircompany.com
Fitness: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly
Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a full marathon in less than 2 hours in 2019, clocking in at 1:59:40. One of the factors of his incredible feat was a pair of Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% shoes, which are designed to return up to 90% of the energy an athlete exerts. This responsive foam effectively optimises each stride to lower run time. The lightweight, breathable material is an added bonus. W nike.com
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Beauty: L’Oreal Perso
For the skincare and makeup enthusiasts, the L’Oreal Perso is a potential skin-saver. As there’s no there’s no one-size-fits-all in beauty, this smart dispenser is designed to analyse a user’s selfie via its app to evaluate common skin concerns like dark spots, wrinkles and blemishes. It then factors in environmental conditions such as humidity and sun exposure before the product requested by the user is mixed and dispensed from the device. The Perso uses interchangeable cartridges to blend products, meaning users can mix either skincare or makeup easily. It is set to launch in 2021. W loreal.com
Consumer electronics: Sony a7c
Sony continues to deliver top quality cameras with the Sony a7c, one of the smallest and lightest mirrorless cameras of today that comes equipped with a full-frame sensor. The sensor size is 30 times that of a smartphone camera, for comparison, allowing users to capture richer details and greater depth in both photography and videography. The a7c manages to achieve all that, while staying relatively compact and portable. W sony.com.my
Artificial Intelligence: Brainbox AI
Inspired by advances in autonomous cars, the founders of Brainbox AI set out to pursue a similar solution, but for buildings. Enter their AI-powered system, which uses data like weather forecasts to predict a building’s thermal conditions, then adjusts its AC or heating output accordingly. The technology is capable of controlling temperatures for more than 40 million sq. ft. of building space, helping to reduce carbon footprints by as much as 20% to 40%. W brainboxai.com
Wellness: Tombot Jennie
After his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and could no longer look after her dog, Tombot founder Tom Stevens was inspired to find another solution. Enter Tombot Jennie, a hyperrealistic emotional-support robot that looks, feels and behaves like a real puppy – sans the mess. Designed to resemble a 12-week-old Labrador, Jennie is built with internal sensors to respond to voice commands, wag her tail when petted and even bark for a treat. The robo-dog is used to provide companionship to those with a range of health adversities and loneliness. W tombot.com
Food & Drink: The Greater Good Fresh Brewing Co Pinter
If brewing your own beer at home seemed like a chore before, The Greater Good has broken it down to a few easy steps. With Pinter, its world-first home-brewer kit, all you need is your brew of choice, brewing yeast and water to make 10 pints of high quality Fresh Beer at a go. Take your pick from the brand’s selection of “Fresh Press”: lager, pilsner, IPA, cider mixes and more. The carbonating units come in an array of cool colours to suit your home, including hot red, tropical yellow, true blue and the standard jet black or frost white. W thegreatergood.co.uk
Developed by the same guys behind MasterClass, Outlier was created to tackle the mountain of student loan debts everywhere. Whilst online learning is nothing new, Outlier isn’t your run-off-the-mill educational software or learning portal. The platform offers remote college courses for transferable credit through the University of Pittsburgh, at up to 80% less than standard. The courses are taught by top professors from distinguished institutions like Yale, MIT and NYU, and are made with high production values not usually seen in online education. Current courses available include calculus, astronomy, psychology and statistics. W outlier.org
Discover Time’s full list of the Best Inventions of 2020 here.
Photos courtesy of respective brands