×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Top Inventions of 2007

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the toys-gadgets-and-widgets dept.

Sci-Fi 293

Gibbs-Duhem writes "Time Magazine is reporting on the best inventions of the year. The top invention is the somewhat well-known iPhone, but there are some extremely cool projects included that I had certainly never heard of, including a device for capturing waste heat from car engines to increase efficiency up to 40%, a novel car designed to run entirely on compressed air claiming to have a range of 2000km with zero pollution, a James Bond style GPS tracking device that police can use to avoid high-speed chases, a small-scale printing press capable of printing and binding a paperback book in 3 minutes for under $3/book (and $50k per machine), a microbe-based technology for turning soft sand into sandstone, a water-based display which uses computer controlled nozzles to produce coherent gaps in the water, and a way to convert type A, B, and AB-negative blood into type O."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

293 comments

Hey! (1, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255983)

2007 isn't over yet. :-) Sheesh, you're as bad as retailers mentioning Christmas in August.

Re:Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256085)

Yeh, it always gets me when they have best movie/book/car etc of the year and you're not even halfway through. I suppose it's at least November this time.

Re:Hey! (2, Interesting)

moranar (632206) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256663)

You would be right if these were only finished products, but many of them will only be available in the next year or further. Which makes me ask "Exactly how are these 2007's best inventions?". Again.

I'm sorry but no (5, Insightful)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 6 years ago | (#21255987)

This has gone too far. There is no way you can place the iPhone as the top "Invention". It is a phone just like any other but with a lot of features you would expect on a phone removed. No novelty or ingenuity. The only thing that it has going for it is that it looks nice. If looking nice is a quality of a great invention then I proclaim the Mona Lisa as the greatest invention of Leonardo da Vinci. I will be hearing next that the iPhone gets the Nobel peace prize as well.

Re:I'm sorry but no (2, Funny)

Diss Champ (934796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256107)

Given the actual choice for this year, giving the Nobel Prize to the iPhone would have been an improvement.

Re:I'm sorry but no (3, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256113)

I agree. Product of the year, yes perhaps, but it's not an invention or even a significant innovation.

Re:I'm sorry but no (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256123)

Not for nothing, but how about RTFAing and bothering to address the reasons they picked the iPhone?

I happen to disagree with them as well, for many of the same reasons as you. However, they do (to a certain extent) try to address exactly what you're saying.

Of course, I believe that they picked the iPhone because it'll drive traffic, not because it's truly the #1 invention in their minds. I simply can't see how the iPhone is a better invention than a device/method to strip blood of its AB antigens.

Oh, and PS:

If looking nice is a quality of a great invention then I proclaim the Mona Lisa as the greatest invention of Leonardo da Vinci.
Meh. She's ugly. Plus, that's a painting, not an invention. I proclaim daVinci's wire tensile strength tester as his greatest invention (since it was actually put to use, unlike his helicopter plans).

Re:I'm sorry but no (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256259)

Of course, I believe that they picked the iPhone because it'll drive traffic, not because it's truly the #1 invention in their minds.

Which is reason enough to not RTFA, as it is designed to generate traffic, not provide any useful information. Of course, the editors here at /. could have chosen to NOT quote an article that is solely designed to get linked on /. and digg.

Re:I'm sorry but no (0, Troll)

onecheapgeek (964280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256659)

Who cares about increasing the blood supply so that there are fewer times of crisis when you can choose which voicemail to listen to first? GET YOUR DAMN PRIORITIES STRAIGHT!

Lives can be saved by listening to your voicemails in the order you want. Lives can be saved by not having buttons on your phone. LIVES CAN BE SAVED BY NEVER HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR PHONE FALLING AND THE BATTERY POPPING OFF!

Why you Apple Haters can't see this is beyond me. I weep for our future.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256133)

Exactly! It's not ground-breaking, it won't save lives, it's just (as they say) an "idiot bauble". Converting different blood types to O is fantastic. Having a higher-than-average-DPI screen on your phone is slight progress at best.

Re:I'm sorry but no (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256469)

Average? Average in the US maybe. Check out Japanese phones some time, 5MP camera, autofocus lens, Xenon flash, VGA screen. They make the iPhone look like a toy for stupid Americans who need everything so dumbed down it's insulting to anyone who can actually read.

Re:I'm sorry but no (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256189)

You slashfags don't like it's produced by a company that wants to ... gasp ... make a profit. If it ran Linux and cost $100 you'd be masturbating on it.

No. Yes. Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256387)

Even we're not this sick. You can love the technology, but you can't LOOOOVE the technology.

A beowulf cluster of them, though? fapfap.

Re:I'm sorry but no (-1, Redundant)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256211)

Anti-Apple bias much? I also agree that the iPhone isn't a cut and dry "invention", but there is plenty of novelty and ingenuity in that product, above and beyond its aesthetic appeal. It is, bar none, the best phone UI on the market today. It throws away old paradigms of input, and has invented a few others (pinch to zoom, anyone?).

Re:I'm sorry but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256315)

Pro-Apple bias much? Your passion exceeds your logic.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256619)

It isn't an invention at all, any more than (sorry) a new car that's a bit nicer than last year's model is.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256787)

It is, bar none, the best phone UI on the market today.

Sorry, but it ain't. That honor still falls to the full size touchtone pad developed by AT&T (the original one) back in the 1960s. (Couple that with a good wireless headset and you've reached telephone nirvana.)

Now, if you're talking about UIs for all the other electronic gadgets that aren't a phone that are also rolled into the iPhone, you might have a point. But for making calls (especially all those conference calls where you have to input 8- or 10-digit ID numbers after connecting) give me a full size standard layout touch pad.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256263)

The only thing that it has going for it is that it looks nice.

It's all in the name recognition. Ask Bush. And he doesn't even look nice!

Re:I'm sorry but no (3, Insightful)

dirtyhippie (259852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256289)

Of course you're right, the iPhone is not an invention... But I must correct you - there is plenty of novelty and ingenuity in the iPhone - including a number of patents and inventions under the covers.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256939)

Patents have not had much to do with novelty or ingenuity in a long time.

The iPhone is a brilliant piece of product design and marketing; there's nothing earth-shattering about it on the technological front, even when you include the interface.

Its inclusion in the list seems like a cheap shot to get the article Slashdotted and FPed on Digg.

Re:I'm sorry but no (2, Insightful)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256339)

I agree whole heartedly, maybe there should be a distinction between incremental inventions and novel (meaning really new) inventions.

Re:I'm sorry but no (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256475)

...maybe there should be a distinction between incremental inventions and novel (meaning really new) inventions.

I agree that there's some sort of distinction to be made there, but it's fuzzy at best. Look deeply enough into the most novel of inventions, and you'll find that's it's basically cobbled together from already-existing inventions and well-known principles. That's just how these things work.

But I agree that I don't think of the iPhone as an "invention". Even though I think it's cool and innovative, it just doesn't do anything that hasn't been done elsewhere. I might consider the whole multi-touch thing an invention, but it's only part of the iPhone, and it existed elsewhere first.

Re:I'm sorry but no (5, Insightful)

revscat (35618) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256379)

There is no way you can place the iPhone as the top "Invention". It is a phone just like any other but with a lot of features you would expect on a phone removed.

RTFA.

The reason they chose to give it to the iPhone wasn't based upon a checklist of features, but because of how well it was designed and the impact it has had. Apple knows how to make products that people enjoy using. That is a difficult thing to do.

The only thing that it has going for it is that it looks nice.

Looks nice and behaves nice.

Most geeks don't understand design, and in fact disregard design considerations as nothing more than eye candy. This is foolish. Design is about taking the human into consideration. Frank Lloyd Wright is a good example: while his structures were beautiful, a large part of their elegance was due to the consideration he gave to his users. He never once forgot that he was creating something that would be used by people.

Apple understands that strong design makes for strong products. The mistake people like you make is that you think design is about looks: skins for Winamp, etc. It's not. Design is about the whole experience, of which elegance and beauty is a part, but only a part.

Re:I'm sorry but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256627)

Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect, not an inventor. (And given the questionable structural soundness of some of his work, he couldn't be called much of an engineer either.) He may have been on some lists of "top architectural designs of the year", but nobody would have put him on a list of "inventions of the year".

About the only thing that apple can claim to have "invented" with the iPhone is the unique way they used their reality distortion field to deflect attention from AT&T's abysmal reputation in the wireless phone market.

Frank (4, Interesting)

raygundan (16760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256701)

I'm not an architecture expert, but I have read several times that one of the largest complaints with actually living in Frank Lloyd Wright's home designs is that they were designed to look fantastic in photographs but are inconvenient to actually live in.

Regardless of whether or not that is true, it underscores the critical thing about design and function-- it's a delicate balance, and designers must be careful not to trade too much functionality for aesthetics and vice versa. Everyone's tastes differ, but Apple frequently makes design choices that I find detrimental to function with no benefit beyond aesthetics. (lack of tacticle keyboard on iPhone, gorgeous all-in-one PCs that make your monitor a disposable item, elegant slim notebooks that offer inadequate cooling for the GPU and necessitate factory underclocking, iTunes' ignorance of audio organized by folder rather than tags, no handy screws for battery replacement on the clean, mirror-finished backs of iPods, etc...)

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256821)

In other words, it is not an invention. It is well designed and well engineered. Examples of inventions: steam engine, Diesel engine, refrigeration, AC current.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256839)

Ok, then it should be on the list of top marketing efforts of 2007. Not top inventions.

Let's call it what it is... putting the iPhone on the list is just hit-whoring.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256911)

Wow. You sure got all us geeks there, don't you? But let's rewrite once and see what happens

Most [mindless fanboys] don't understand [communication with other people], and in fact disregard [communication] considerations as nothing more than [time-wasting drivel since they're right anyway]. This is foolish. [Communication]is about taking the human into consideration. Frank Lloyd Wright is a good example: while his structures were beautiful, a large part of their elegance was due to the consideration he gave to his users. He never once forgot that he was creating something that would be used by people.

And I didn't even need to touch the bit about Wright.

P.S. Wright once designed a house for a client with a large glass roof section. Some of the glass sections met at inverted 'V's with the point sticking up into the air. At the time Wright designed the house this was nearly impossible to make watertight and elegant but Wright insisted that his design be followed. One night it leaked and the client called Wright to complain. Wright told his client to complain to the builder since the builder installed the glass and not Wright. Wright was a great artist but in some of his designs he was driven by design alone and not by any overwhelming consideration for his clients. Occasionally it was just about the money, too.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256973)

The reason they chose to give it to the iPhone wasn't based upon a checklist of features, but because of how well it was designed and the impact it has had. Apple knows how to make products that people enjoy using. That is a difficult thing to do.
Ok, so the iPhone is a nice product. It might even be an innovation. It's still not an invention.
A new product of a kind that has existed before (the iPhone is a mobile-phone of the variety smart-phone) isn't an invention no matter how much nicer it is than the other product of similar kinds.

Innovations != Inventions

Re:I'm sorry but no (4, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256397)

Maybe you have no sense of perspective.

Think of the iPhone today and the computer of 10 years from now.

Time is probably thinking the iPhone, today, is like the original Mac or Lisa 25 years ago. In that sense, the iPhone is likely to dictate how all computing will occur in 10 years.

If they are right, then it does qualify as invention of the year.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

Non-Huffable Kitten (1142561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256739)

A trend-setting toy is still a toy.

Maybe you have no sense of perspective.

I will resist the urge to be unkind and mumble something about irony - but don't you think that there are some slightly more important inventions than a new distraction? Great, so now I can have my attention and deliberation disrupted by The Web 2.0 Experience even when on the bus :/

No hard feelings :)

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256403)

I've never read Time before, but after reading that article I had to email the author. He obviously has no idea about technology - claiming that the iPhone is the first ever personal computer in your pocket? For goodness sake. I know that Windows Mobile and other phone OSes are usually 'cut down' versions of Windows/Linux, or entirely unrelated OSes, but we have had the portable computer for a long time now. Nothing in the list of things he provided qualified as an 'invention', merely product design and marketing achievements. This guy needs to be fired, or perhaps Time is just expected to be a load of balls?

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

BlackTriangle (581416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256467)

Time is the magazine of the establishment ; not that it's audience is the people that own everything, just that everything in Time is the most generic pop culture pap possible, designed to drive business for corporate America. Your IQ will drop by many, many points if you continue to read Time.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

General Lee's Peking (954826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256515)

``The only thing going for it is that it looks nice''? I don't know if you bothered reading the article at all, they not only anticipated people with attitudes like yours, but defended their decision by illustrating that Apple achieved an ease of use of the product through the kind of design that not only took time, effort and talent, but is highly likely to have a profound influence on future design by other manufacturers. If you think they were flip and just don't know what else is out there, then how would you explain the rest of the inventions on list? Do you have list of great inventions that rivals theirs? I didn't think so. I'm sorry, but you obviously don't have any insight into the concept of design at all.

Re:I'm sorry but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256841)

The point is that great design doesn't make something an invention. Your arguement is for placing the iPhone at the top of a list of best designed products of 2007.

Which is the invention (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256529)

There is no way you can place the iPhone as the top "Invention".
Which is the invention, the Xerox Star or the Mac?

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256595)

This has gone too far.

Of course, there is an explanation:

"Time Magazine has caved in to shareholder's demands to feature more buzz words, like 'iPhone' and '...of the year', and pronounced Jobs's little bar of happiness the Invention Of The Year. Yes, it's official - Time has gone mad."
( http://techdigest.tv/2007/11/time_magazine_n.html [techdigest.tv] )

In a modern world ...

CC.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256721)

"No novelty or ingenuity."

OK, you can hate the iPhone if you want, and the fact that it was picked for this honor. And you can bitch and moan about whatever feature you feel it's lacking. But you can't tell me it lacks novelty and ingenuity. It's a phone, an iPod, and a REAL web browser packed into a single device, with no physical buttons, and it WORKS GREAT. That is definitely novel and ingenious.

Re:I'm sorry but no (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256849)

I'd say that things like the iPhone aren't inventions at all.
The mobile-phone is an invention. A mobile-phone isn't an invention.

Obligatory car-analogy:
The car is an invention.
A Nissan Micra isn't.

You know what would be a good invention? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256025)

A shock collar for niggers.

That's a bad nigger. ZAP!

Soft sand into sandstone... (4, Funny)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256029)

...microbe-based technology for turning soft sand into sandstone...

The triple jump just got a lot more entertaining. :-D

not very inventive (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256049)

We have a phone that's not done yet, a wind-up car that uses air for a spring, and a bus that stole its gear from the local railroad's maintenance vehicles.

hey, screw you guys! (5, Funny)

binarybum (468664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256119)

i was going to release my teleportation prototype next week, but now I have to wait to Jan. so I can make the best of 2008 list. Either that or complete my time-machine project so I can go back and get my teleporter finished before the deadline for this award.

Re:hey, screw you guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256763)

I guess you will not get the time-machine to work, cause your teleportation prototype was still not yet on the list.

Re:hey, screw you guys! (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256811)

If you were going to finish your time machine then you would have your teleporter finished already, so we can presume that you are either too lazy to finish your time machine or by the time you do you won't be upset about this anymore. You probably went to the Jurassic period and got stomped on by a mammoth or some other large creature so one day your bones will confuse archaeologists.

not 2000km! (3, Informative)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256125)

Editor or poster added an extra 0... the anticipated range on the aircar is 200km (about 125 miles).

Re:not 2000km! (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256225)

From the MDI site linked to in TFA page for the compressed air car:

With the incorporation of bi-energy (compressed air + fuel) the CAT Vehicles have increased their driving range to close to 2000 km with zero pollution in cities and considerably reduced pollution outside urban areas.
Of course, that's a hybrid compressed air / fuel car, but it quite clearly states 2000 km.

It's an exercise for the reader to determine if that's just a number pulled out of MDI's compressed-air spewing ass, or if it's for real. Given the size of the CATcar (think go-cart on steroids), that range could be attainable...

Re:not 2000km! (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256829)

Once again something is touted as zero pollution. They compress the air using electricity, which in the case of Hydro, and wind causes environmental damage, and solar which causes pollution to manufacture the solar cells.

Hence nothing me make can be called zero pollution.

Re:not 2000km! (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256899)

Yes, obviously this is true about electricity having to be generated. However it is more effecient to generate electricity en mass then on a per car basis. Therefore the environmental impact of such vehicles is much less. Plus you will be hard pressed to convince most people that wind power damages the environment. Yes, I know birds sometimes fall victim to the turbines but they could be designed to have less impact (no pun intended) on birds.

Re:not 2000km! (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21257013)

Yes in NY state the bird kill is getting so bad the even environmentalist are taking notice. The flicker from the turbines in the morning and evening is starting to force people to move. I guess they won't be stopped unless the almighty deer population is affected.

Yeah (4, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256135)

The iPhone is the coolest and best designed closed-off brick of the year. Nay, the decade.

Such a great device with so much potential, it's just a shame. And I really don't even blame Apple. It's this country's telecomm industry that's broken.

Re:Yeah (2, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256385)

Why aren't you blaming Apple? They are the ones that could have released this phone without a carrier. Apple brought the idea to market, and AT&T said "Hey, we'll pay you X amount of dollars a month per user for exclusive rights!" Apple saw the $$$$ signs flashing in front of their eyes and signed away. End of story.

Re:Yeah (2, Insightful)

ickoonite (639305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256715)

Apple saw the $$$$ signs flashing in front of their eyes and signed away. End of story.

Corporation seeks to make profit. Film at eleven.

Seriously, what were they supposed to do? Release it untethered to appease the fraction of the population that actually cares about shit like this, i.e. freaks like yourself? Given that they have sold well in excess of a million of these phones, it is clear that most people don't care that the phone is locked (indeed, I am willing to bet that a significant number of those people wouldn't even know what 'locking' was).

Idiot.

:|

Re:Yeah (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21257005)

Is it that they don't care, or is it that they're willing to put up with a significant flaw to get the iPhone? If the later, then Apple could have told ATT to fsck themselves and might have sold even more iPhones.

Re:Yeah (1)

ickoonite (639305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21257071)

Well, either way, they will open it up to other carriers eventually (it was only ever intended to be a limited period of exclusivity), at which point people will have to find something else to complain about. And Apple will sell a metric shitload of phones to those who wouldn't buy it because it was tethered to AT&T.

:|

That's Sad... (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256139)

The iphone is a great cell phone, but I wouldn't say it was the best invention.

Re:That's Sad... (1)

witte (681163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256859)

Not that I RTFA, but judging from the summary, this smells like slashvertisement for the iPhone, being close to christmas and all.
And the iPhone being at the same level of awesomeness as the ability to turn *-type blood into O-type blood ?
Whatever.

gps car tags have been around for quite a while (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256165)

i'm sorry but GPS car tags have been around for a while, as if their use in pursuits provides any more utility than a helicopter with a FLIR unit.

Re:gps car tags have been around for quite a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256347)

Are you really sorry? Really, truly sorry? If so, then what are you sorry about?

Jeep did it! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256185)

Jeep has been using that water based display at auto shows for a few years now.

Must have been a pretty slow year... (1)

poormanjoe (889634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256215)

I have always suspected that magazines are influenced by their #1 pick of any consumer product by some form of income, maybe through advertisement contracts?

I do not know if there is a law against such a fradulent practice, but fact that money talks seems like there wouldn't be.

Iphone? (2, Insightful)

fixer007 (851350) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256227)

How is the IPhone even classed as an invention? IT is something that already existed (cell-phone) that someone else added some gee-gaws to.

That's like saying the 2008 Chevy Malibu is the top invention for 2008 because it is so cool and hip!

How sad...

Re:Iphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256767)

That's like saying the 2008 Chevy Malibu is the top invention for 2008 because it is so cool and hip!

*Finally* someone agrees with me. Sheesh.

Some more enlightning stuff... (2, Informative)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256321)

Can You Feel Me? Philips' SKIN Probes use biometric sensors and lighting to pick up on your feelings and make them visible. The Bubelle dress changes color depending on your mood. The Frisson bodysuit is covered with LEDs and fine copper hairs that light up when brushed or blown on.

Blinded by Light The hunt for better non-lethal weaponry gained new urgency when several people died in recent years after being shocked by a Taser. The LED Incapacitator, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, is a novel alternative. When officers shine the flashlight-like device in a person's eyes, high-intensity LEDs, pulsating at varying rates, will make the suspect temporarily blind and dizzy.

Making the Car Chase Obsolete High-speed chases may be money shots in Hollywood, but everywhere else they're just dangerous. The StarChase Pursuit Management System uses a laser-guided launcher mounted on the front grill of a cop car to tag fleeing vehicles with a GPS tracking device. Then the fuzz can hang back as real-time location data are sent to police headquarters.

Good Morning, Sunshine Embedded with a grid of LEDs, it [pillow] uses nothing but light to wake you up. About 40 min. before reveille, the programmable foam pillow starts glowing, gradually becoming brighter, to simulate a natural sunrise.
This helps set your circadian rhythm and ease you into the day.

Prize money (2, Funny)

Relden (1030180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256337)

Maybe this will inspire the people who invented the blood converter to buy iPhones with their Nobel prize money.

The air car (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256341)

It's still a heat engine, which means, maybe 30% efficiency under ideal conditions. Then there's the problem with getting heat into the cylinder fast enough as the air expands so it won't even come close to the ideal.

Compare with an electric motor where 95% efficiency is not uncommon. An air car just doesn't make any sense, particularly when you're using electricity to charge the tanks.

 

Re:The air car (3, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256441)

The market for those Air Cars is India, where you can use the expanded air to cool the cabin after you move. There was a Slashdot article on it awhile back. There are some practicality problems with it: the air tank is pretty dangerous in an accident, but luckily safety is not as paramount over there; and the range is a bit short, but for a little cab that scoots people around the city it's not a bad solution and certainly better than adding to the smog problem with combustion engines.

Re:The air car (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256539)

What matters is how much energy per mass you can store. So if you can store four times as much energy using compressed air compared to batteries, then even if the efficiency is only 30% it is still a good deal. However, that seems quite unlikely to me.

Re:The air car (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256761)

in real life compressed air motors get about 7-15% efficiency in industrial applications, the compressed air car is a horrible waste of energy

iPhone - Invetion of the Year? (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256409)

The iPhone didn't add much in the way of technology or features. All Apple did was add their Apple view of everything and added the 'i' to a very common word. There were phones that could do everything that the iPhone did before the iPhone was released. My choice for the invention of the year would have to be the Wii because Nintendo truly added a new idea to an already great thing.

Hey what are you doing? Ow, don't hurt me!

Re:iPhone - Invetion of the Year? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256735)

You're probably right about the wii (although that would be last year) - it was an unexpected revolution.

'Yet another phone' is *not* an invention. (and I even *have* an iphone. It sucks as a phone.. OK as an mp3 player, but the touch is better as it's 16gb).

Time passes sd in scientific cluelessness (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256411)

No way the steam guy can get another 40% in gas mileage.

Similarly anything powered by compressed air can't fail to have low efficiency.

And that's just the obvious Carnot-cycle defying impossible inventions. One wonders about the rest of them.

The iPhone as a weapon against the cell carriers. (3, Insightful)

w3woody (44457) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256423)

The fact that the iPhone placed as "top invention" speaks more to the ubiquitousness of cell phones in our society and how irritated people are with the current state of affairs with respect to the cell carriers. Most of the Time article about the iPhone spoke about how poor current phones were (the iPhone is "pretty" because "Most high-tech companies don't take design seriously") and how it will encourage carriers to open up their sandboxes ("It's not a phone, it's a platform") than it did about how cool an "invention" the iPhone is.

It's also interesting because many of the complaints about the iPhone revolve around the fact that Apple somehow didn't go far enough to crack the cell carrier hegemony (the iPhone is locked to a single carrier, the iPhone contract is two years) than it goes towards actual design flaws in the physical unit.

In fact, I've never seen people get so worked up before over a single cell phone--and I suggest it's because we all hate the cell carriers and are hoping someone--either a powerful government or a powerful company (either Apple's iPhone or Google's Android OS) will force the cell carriers to improve.

Re:The iPhone as a weapon against the cell carrier (4, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256569)

Apple is doing NOTHING to break the hegemony. Apple released a phone which does barely nothing more than other phones on the market (and indeed a lot less than some), tied to a single network (which was THEIR choice), and then charged massive amounts of money for the phones. And what happened? People who either don't use phones a lot, or people who love marketing spiel, or people who love apple, bought the flying shit out of them. Apple is one of the bad guys! This article is saying that a product that isn't better than any others, but which costs more and is locked more and runs less software is somehow better than, say, any other mobile out there? That's what's truly horrifying about this. The only thing Apple is changing is how much people will pay for a mediocre phone. And currently that's $400, with a contract. Jesus.

Re:The iPhone as a weapon against the cell carrier (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256769)

That's not insignificant. Previously phone designs were limited by what it was percieved people would pay... phones were always free with a contract 6-9 months after their release, which meant they had a fixed budget. As production got cheaper, phones improved.. but it was limited.

Then apple decided to build this hugely expensive gadget and unexpectely they actually sold some. That means others can now do the same - bigger screens, better features, faster processors.. the base phone will be a lot more expensive but do a lot more out of the box.

My Two Cents (5, Insightful)

Internet Ronin (919897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256425)

Look, I'm an iPhone owner, and I love the damn thing, no question about it.

It was worth every penny, and then some; the SDK should only make it better.

However, that said, labeling it as "Invention of the Year" is a pretty sad state of affairs for the country. I'm pretty medical, environmental, and social breakthroughs deserve FAR more attention.

I'd hate to tell the guy with cancer that the really cool virus that eats cancer cells could've had a ton more funding for R & D if only it had one Time's Invention of the Year.

The iPhone is cool, no question, but it is the height of frivolity, and can't possibly compare with all the other wonderful things mankind is dreaming up and making a reality that deserve far more press coverage than the iPhone has already gotten.

Not that I'm complaining too loudly, my Apple stock just keeps on truckin'

Zero emmision car? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21256435)

In what way does a compressed air car create zero emissions? Where's the compressed air coming from? Unless it's being hand pumped the energy to create the compressed is coming from somewhere (and even if it is being hand pumped - food has to be grown to provide the fuel for the human). Say a power station - followed by a very inefficient and lossy process to compress the air (ever felt how hot a scuba tank gets when it's filled).

If you're looking at emissions you have look from source to sink. Picking an arbitrary starting point and saying "look - zero emissions" is pure crap.

There's more! (1)

psgalbraith (200580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256545)

Another convenient feature: a built-in air compressor can be plugged in to refill the tanks within minutes.

Imagine that. Power up a compressor for just a few minutes to keep going on a full tank! Presumably a full tank lasts more than a few minutes of propulsion.

Tabbed Browsing? (2, Funny)

franoculator (714656) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256449)

I've dreamed of tabbed browsing for years and finally Microsoft made my dreams come true... oh wait, that was 2006, wasn't it.

Wow.. (0, Redundant)

IwarkChocobos (881084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256461)

2007 isn't over... What if they come up with a cure for cancer between now and 12/31? Time will be like "Sorry cancer cure! The iPhone already won!"

Ignore the iPhone (4, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256519)

If you ignore the over-hyped (and still pretty damned cool) iPhone as 1st place, this list is pretty amazing. The water-injected engine at first glance sounds alot like the water-injection that was hyped back in the 1970s [motherearthnews.com] , but it's not. A little bit of digging (thanks, Google!) reveals that it's actually a 6-stroke engine [autoweek.com] that uses the heat that would normally be radiated away. If done right, there's no need for a radiator or other cooling system!

My first thought is about what this could mean for General Aviation - having the fuel burn rate cut by 40% WITHOUT needing any cooling gear (think: reduced weight) could be a real boon... already there are diesel aviation engines already that are significantly more efficient [flyingmag.com] ( but need radiators, and already have a high compression ratio) this could help out even more - imagine a diesel engine that reduces fuel consumption by 60%, maybe even 70%?!?!?

Pipe dream? Yes. But I sure do hope. And it would likely happen in cars before airplanes, thanks to the glacial pace of technology advancement in aviation. Everybody's so terrified of risk that innovation is radically reduced. The reality is simply that (Private Airplanes) == (Money) == (Lawyer Bait) == (an industry that is forever on the edge of shutdown).

If you want to see the crippling effect that excessive lawyering can cause to industry, you need look no further than private aviation.

-Ben

Re:Ignore the iPhone (2, Insightful)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256705)

Everybody's so terrified of risk that innovation is radically reduced.
I think you hit the needle on the head. I think business and people in general are to afraid to loose what they have, so are afraid to use anything that is untried and new in their environments because there's the possibility of loss, whatever that loss may be, financial, medical, etc. Wish it was like the 50-60's when scientists and engineers thought big!

Many Of These Aren't New (3, Insightful)

illectro (697914) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256567)

The Lucky Camera for astronomy technique has been used by amateurs for years. The Elasitc space suit was a concept going back to the 60's. Injectying water into engines is a technique that's been used for decades. These guys should edit slashdot.

Star Trek VI (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256597)

Did this one [time.com] make anyone else think of Star Trek VI? No? Anyway, it's just another example of how science fiction can't keep up with reality. The idea of a 2001 prequel to a 1960's science fiction series is what doomed Enterprise from the start -- society and science in 2001 had surpassed many aspects of TOS (transporter and FTL excepted, of course).

Um, hardly any of those would make my list... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256669)

I usually find the "best invention" of the year is something that's been around a decade or two and I just didn't know it even existed that's in my price range.

Also known as actually knowing and using the right tool for the right job.

It's like introducing duct tape and WD40 to some one that has never encountered or previously needed them before. I need a list of the tools that I would be using if I properly knew about them. My best invention of the decade is cheap powerful PCs for less than $600. That's more of a refinement in existing tech being cheap enough that most people can finally use it though. It's sort of like $20 a month "high speed internet." When high speed internet costs $100+ a month base price for your area, only rich folks will really even know that it exists. It's not a useful invention if I can't buy it.

I guess my other favorite invention is 19+" LCDs becoming standard on low end desktops.

Air-car bullshit (4, Informative)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256743)

The "air-car" is bullshit.

First, all they have is blurry cad-drawings, and still they claim it'll be on the market in 2008. That's not possible, if that where to actually be the case they'd have to ALREADY have several completed prototypes of the car at the minimum for safety-testing and similar.

Second, there's just not enough energy there.

If you believe the claims of the aircar-makers themselves, (which ain't a safe thing to do, because they assume near termic equilibrium, among other things, but nevermind) then, and I'm here quoting their website: 300 litres at 300 bars results in 46 MJ (Y 52.1 MJ with 340 litres at 300 bars ).

Okay, so a 340lite (90 gallon!) air-tank can hold the same amount of energy as 0.4 gallons of petrol. Really

So, after you've refilled this gargantuan 90 gallon tank with air, you'll have the equivalent of 0.4 gallons petrol worth of energy. Thereafter you have to refuel again. Who wants to refuel every 10 miles ? This think makes electric cars look EXCELLENT by comparison.

iPhone is not an "invention", IMO (1)

krygny (473134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256775)

It's a design that integrates multiple, previously existing technologies/features/products/etc.

But, if the design is patentable, I suppose it's an invention; I just don't hold with it.

Those are great inventions? (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256895)

The bookbinding machine? That was mentioned on Slashdot previously. It's not that novel. Many of the bigger copiers/printers have a binder option. Larger Kinkos outlets can crank out perfect-bound books. The price and cost figures are vaporware; the bookbinding machine isn't actually in production. The Internet Archive has a printing and binding operation in a van (the "Internet Bookmobile"), and has for years. Uses a semi-auto binder.

The programmable water display is one of those cute one-off things. I've seen some similar gadgets, including a projection screen made of mist. That showed up at a venture capital conference in Silicon Valley a few months ago. Modulated water displays were done in Japan in the 1980s, and they've been tried in some US retail locations.

The "air car" has some grand claims. "For various reasons, one of which is industrial secrecy, we havent published all technical details on this site." Right. The thing is actually supposed to be a gasoline-powered hybrid - "The Series 34 CATs engines can be equipped with and run on dual energies - fossil fuels and compressed air". Plus, there's an electric motor and battery in there. "Parking manoeuvres are powered by the electric motor." It's not clear why they need both electrical and compressed air energy storage. The actual range they've achieved [theaircar.com] running on compressed air is only 7.2Km. All they actually have on the road is one prototype car made of welded tubes, with steel compressed air tanks driving an ordinary reciprocating compressor as an air motor. None of their claimed technology (the carbon fibre tanks, the wierd crankshaft linkage, the low-friction seals) is in use. They have a good Monster Garage project, but not a major invention.

The "40% more efficient gasoline engine" thing isn't new. See this 1979 article in Mother Earth News. [motherearthnews.com] Wikipedia has a good article on water injection [wikipedia.org] , and there's a link to Crowder's engine. The general consensus today seems to be that turbos and intercoolers have made water injection obsolete. If you use water injection, you have to carry either a water tank about as big as the gas tank, or a condenser and oil/water separation system.

I'm not impressed with Time's selections. There must have been some better work this year, or we're in real trouble in technology.

FRAUD ALERT -- Slashdot sucked in again! (2, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256909)

From the article: "The future of automotive technology may lie in the past. Bruce Crower, 77, an auto-racing designer with a thriving business in San Diego, has invented a hybrid steam engine in which water is sprayed into a traditional gasoline-powered cylinder, turning waste heat into usable energy. How much energy? Enough to travel 40% farther on a gallon of gas."

This has been known for decades. The problem is that the extremely hot steam corrodes the extremely hot steel.

Slashdot editors apparently spend all their time playing video games, and learn nothing about the world.

DMV: Re-inventing the -um, wheel. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21256961)

I really don't get why the rail car is on this list. This idea is far from new as HiRail has been making them since the 70s.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...