As part of the annual end-of-the-year recapitulations the media is so fond of, the November 22/29 issue of Time magazine lists the 100 best inventions of 2021. The complete list is at https://time.com/collection/best-inventions-2021/, but here are some that caught my eye.
A Public Health Breakthrough — Thanks mostly to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline, a malaria vaccine is being introduced. Named Mosquirix, it’s the first vaccine to ever fight a parasitic infection. It was recommended for approval by the World Health Organization in October.
Grid-Free Electricity — Reeddi is a compact, portable solar-powered battery that people in Nigeria can rent for 50 cents a day to charge their devices, including computers and televisions. The company plans to expand further in Africa, then into Southeast Asia.
Bone-Conduction Communication — Mobilus Labs has created a headset speaker and microphone that transmits sound as vibrations in the wearer’s skull. The mobiWAN headset was introduced in October.
A Compassionate Companion — Robin the Robot is an artificial-intelligence-based companion designed to ease anxiety and loneliness among children in hospitals. It’s currently in 12 facilities worldwide and is planned for 100 locations in the U.S. in the next year.
Self-Driving Delivery — Your next pizza might be delivered by robot. The Nuro R2 is an electric self-driving vehicle about the size of a golf cart. Nuro has partnered with Domino’s, FedEx, and Kroger in Houston to test the R2. They’re also being tried in Phoenix and Mountain View, CA.
Never Miss a Dose — Almost one million women in the U.S. have unplanned pregnancies each year because they miss a dose of their birth-control pills. The health-tech company Emme has developed a Bluetooth-connected smart case that works with over 100 brands of pills. The case synchs with an app that sends custom reminders and follows up if a pill isn’t removed from the case. Emme reported an 80% reduction in missed pills during beta testing.
Nonsoggy Takeout — SAVRpak is a peel-and-stick patch that’s placed inside standard plastic takeout containers to keep food fresh while in transit. The product is being used in over 20 countries.
A Better Bassinet — The Juno Bassinet is made of corrugated paperboard, coated with a biodegradable water-repellent coating and paired with an organic cotton zippered sheet. It can be folded for storage or travel, and can be recycled when no longer used.
Maybe 2022 will be a good year after all!