What Makes A Great Invention?

It probably depends on who you ask. The Dragon’s, investors from the television reality show Dragon’s Den, share their opinions on air but do not always get it right.

Time Magazine recently revealed its thoughts in print when it published, “The 25 Best Inventions of the Year 2013.” The article suggested a great invention solves either a problem people thought couldn’t be solved (such as helping quadriplegics walk) or a problem they didn’t realise needed to be solved (who knew we needed a cronut – the offspring of a croissant and a doughnut – or an invisible skyscraper). Among Time’s top inventions for 2013 were: 

  • The Smart Lens: Ever been frustrated by the low resolution of photos snapped with your mobile phone? Now, you can attach a smart lens and your smart phone will take pictures like a high performance camera and save them online automatically.
  • The edible password pill: Nope. It’s not on the market yet but, sometime in the future, you’ll be able to swallow a pill with breakfast. The chip inside will be powered by stomach acid and make your body into its own unique personal password every single day.
  • The 3Doodler: If you think 3D printing is neat, check out the 3Doodler. It’s a pen that melts and cools coloured plastic so you can sketch and scribble actual structures. It’s the more sophisticated brethren of Popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners.
  • Artificial memories: It’s likely to be just as controversial as cloning and the human genome, but scientists at MIT have managed to implant false memories in mice. They hope human applications will help treat depression and post-traumatic stress. 

From the wheel to disposable nappies to the worldwide web, inventions have powered new industries and changed lives. So, are our most inventive days behind us? There are a few pessimists out there, but the Time Invention Poll found more than one-half of respondents think there are plenty of great inventions ahead. Where will they be discovered? Those polled said the United States, China, Japan, India, South Korea, and other nations.