The top innovations of 2015

2015 was a great year for innovation around the world, especially in the area of health. From the invention of The Drinkable Book to gluten sensors, in the last year scientists have succeeded in creating some of the most remarkable pieces of technology, all with the simple goal of making life easier and more efficient.

So, what were some of the spectacular inventions of 2015?

Every year scientists from around the world work tirelessly to improve existing inventions, and produce unique innovations to improve lives. Very often, it is these simple inventions that have the ability to revolutionise certain aspects of life.

Top innovations of 2015

  1. A book with a difference.

One of the largest health problems still facing Africa, and other parts of the world, is the lack of access to clean drinking water. According to the World Health Organisation, safer water can prevent millions of deaths every year, but providing clean drinking water to the millions of people in need of it can also be an expensive and difficult task. However, earlier this year Dr Theresa Dankovich, who has her Ph.D. in chemistry, created a cheap and easy solution to this water problem in the form of The Drinkable Book.

Each page of this book is a sheet of bactericidal silver nanoparticle paper, which is a special kind of paper that Dankovich invented with the ability to filter harmful bacteria from water. Therefore, you can tear out pages in the book and use them to filter water. Dankovich has already done trials in South Africa, where the paper eliminated approximately 99% of bacteria living in the water in this area. While more research still needs to be carried out to determine if this paper can filter out other substances such as viruses, this book could provide a cheap an easy means to bring safe and drinkable water to the millions of people who currently don’t have access to it.

  1. A pan with the ability to cook.

If cooking is a struggle for you, then the release of the new Pantelligent smart frying pan could be the answer to all your problems. This intelligent frying pan, which was created by Humberto Evans, gives anyone the ability to cook a great meal using the pan and their smartphone.

This specially designed pan contains sensors at its base which monitor the temperature of the pan and the food in the pan, and relays this information via Bluetooth to the user’s smartphone. Together with this information, the smartphone app then decides exactly when the best time for the next step of the recipe is. Therefore, once you select a particular dish from the wide selection of recipes on the smartphone app, the app will guide you through the recipe step-by-step, monitoring the temperature of the pan throughout. For example, if you are frying a piece of steak, the app will alert you as to when the right time is to flip your steak if you want it medium-rare. This new innovation could enable people to cook that have never even stepped into a kitchen before.

  1. Gluten-sensitive sensor.

Gluten sensitivity due to health problems such as coeliac disease has become a major problem around the world. Eating out at restaurants for people who suffer from gluten sensitivity can be challenging because it can be very difficult to tell whether dishes contain gluten or not. In 2015, 6sensorlabs produced the Nima, which could make eating out at restaurants a bit easier for people with gluten sensitivity.

This device has the ability to detect any traces of gluten in any meal in just two minutes. You just add a sample of the meal into the handheld sensor and it can determine through a specific antibody reaction within the machine whether the food contains gluten or not. A smile appears on the face of the machine if it is clear and a frown lights up on the face of the device if it is not. If this device is successful, future innovation could include devices that can detect peanuts or dairy in meals.

  1. Personal pollution monitor.

Another great innovation to come out of 2015 is the TZOA, a device that can monitor the state of the environment around you. This device uses six internal senses to test the air quality, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient light, and UV exposure of the environment you are in, and because it is portable, you can carry it around with you to determine the quality of the different environments you find yourself in.  Another great aspect of this device is that is also gives its wearer actionable recommendations to better improve their environment. For example, it might suggest that the user open up a window for better ventilation in a particular area.

  1. The transparent truck.

Technology giant Samsung’s transparent truck is a simple innovation that was released earlier this year with the potential to save countless lives on the road. In 2010, there were approximately 1.24 million deaths that occurred from accidents on the world’s roads. Many of these accidents involve large vehicles such as trucks, and occur as a result of drivers not being able to see past big vehicles, particularly in one lane stretches of road.

Samsung partnered with ad agency Leo Burnett to create a special truck with ability to relay video footage from the road in front of the truck to four screens on the back of the truck. In this way the drivers in the cars behind the truck can see exactly what is happening on the road in front. The truck is still in its testing phase, so we will have to wait and see if will be rolled out in the next few years.

If 2015 has produced such a spectacular array of technology, just imagine what 2016 will bring.