February 25, 2017

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Folding Speakers, 3-D Cameras… But Still No Jetpack

A few more inventions from Time’s “50 Best Inventions of 2009.”

The last invention I covered yesterday was a microchip that would allow the blind to regain partial sight. Here’s a similar one:

The $20 Knee Losing a knee joint is no fun, I’m sure. Neither is the $10,000+ price-tag of a titanium knee replacement. And when it comes to replacing parts of your body, you don’t exactly want to go with the cheap stuff. But a lot of people don’t have a choice. Well, now “a team of Stanford engineering students has designed a knee that’s not only dirt cheap — just $20 — but also mimics the natural joint’s movements.”

This self-lubricating, fully functioning knee replacement is being tested in India right now. Over 300 people are utilizing “the twenty dollar knee,” and assuming all goes well, that number should be increasing shortly. Isn’t it nice when technology is cheap and useful?

The Human Powered Vending Machine Just how badly do you want those potato chips? Are you willing to work for them? Inventor Pep Torres is hoping that you are. His new “human powered vending machine” requires patrons to ride a certain distance on a bike attached to the vending machine before they can get their greasy reward. Whether or not this radical idea will catch on remains to be seen, but Torres is hoping to see it “in subway stations and schools… That way, people can eat their potato chips and still get in shape.”

We’ll see about that…

The Foldable Speaker As a bit of an audiophile, I’m already suspicious when a pair of speakers cost under 20 dollars. When the speakers are made out of cardboard and are collapsible, I’m even more dubious. And yet… I just might buy a pair.  Invented by the Chicago-based OrigAudio, these self-powered, 16 dollar speakers are basically encased in three-inch boxes made from recycled paper. Let’s say you’re moving, and you just don’t have room for a three-inch cube. Simply collapse the speakers into a flat sheet and slide them in your briefcase. Weird, intriguing, questionable… All the things a novelty invention should be. If anyone’s tried these, let me know how they sound. You can get your own pair at origaudio.com.

The 3-D Camera With 3-D films making a comeback, and 3-D televisions set to become the consumer must-have of 2010, it’s no surprise that Fujifilm has made a 3-D camera. Much like the 3-D technology James Cameron helped develop for his upcoming blockbuster “Avatar,” this 3-dimensional still-camera uses two lenses, then combines the images to create the illusion of depth. The best part? You can view the images on the camera’s LCD screen without wearing any 3-D glasses.

And of course, there’s more. Edible race cars, levitating mouses, even a new type of cloud:

(No, a new cloud is not technically an invention. But gee whiz, doesn’t that look awesome?)

Anyway, they’re all there, along with many more inventions, useful and useless alike, at Time.com.

Thanks for reading, and if I don’t talk to you before Thursday, have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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