When the most brilliant people on this earth are at work and come up with things like robot soldiers, slot machines, cryptocurrencies, it breaks your heart. You would want to see better inventions coming from the brilliant people that would actually impact the world positively. However, not all is lost because there is still hope with very useful inventions that have made the world a great place.
Some of those inventions are as follows:-
1. The Be My Eyes App
This is an app created by Hans Wilberg a visually impaired person who experienced challenges when it came to relying on friends and family to help him read things like an expiration date on a milk carton, the departure time on a train station and many other micro-tasks. He had the idea about this app to help visually impaired people get connected with a network of volunteers who would help them identify things.
He pitched his idea at a 2012’s Startup weekend in Aarhus, Denmark. There he connected with a team that helped turn his idea into a reality. The free mobile app came to be and was then launched for iOS in 2015 and for Android in 2017. Since this app was launched, it has helped more than 80,000 blind and visually impaired people and has more than 1.3 million sighted volunteers. Most users are getting helped as soon as they need it. The average response time is 20 seconds. Talk of a great invention.
2. Lifestraw Water Filter
This invention began with a guinea worm, a tropical parasite that affects those who happen to drink unclean water. The Guinea worm disease affected more than 3.5million people in Africa and Asia. However, it was almost eradicated with only 30 cases reported. This was all thanks to a filter that removes Guinea worm larvae from drinking water. The filter invented by Vestergaard, a Swiss-based company. Vestergaard turned its focus on dealing with other water contaminants and then finally introduced the Lifestraw in 2005. The Lifestraw is a personal straw-like filter designed doe use in situations where clean drinking water may not be available. More than 1 million children in schools have benefited by getting access to clean drinking water and so have hikers and many others. This is all thanks to Vestergaard’s efforts.
3. Embrace Infant Warmers
Premature babies experience hypothermia since they lack the body fat required to regulate their temperatures. This has led to more than 1 million infant deaths annually. In modern surroundings with facilities, mothers can count on incubators to keep the infants warm. However, for the infants born in resource-poor environments incubators aren't affordable. This is why Jane Chen, Linus Liang, Rahul Panicker and Naganand Murty decided to work on the project they received in a Stanford class. Named, “Design for Extreme Affordability.”
From their effort, the Embrace Infant warmer came to be. It is a sort of sleeping bag warmer that relies on paraffin pouches for heat and costs cheaper than incubators. More than 300,000 babies around the world have benefited from it.
4. Prosthetic Dolphin Tail
This invention began with Winter the dolphin who had a very difficult start in life. At 3 months old she was rescued by a fisherman who found her tangled in a crab trap line. The fisherman called a rescue crew who took her to the Marine hospital. A line had cut off circulation to her tail fluke and it was lost along with two vertebrae. Usually, this is a very serious and even fatal injury for dolphins but since she was in a new aquarium home, she learned how to swim using an unnatural motion which wasn't good for her considering her health was worsening. That is when Kevin Caroll and Dan Strzempka, two prosthetists who also happened to be amputees volunteered to create a prosthetic tail for winter. The aquarium staff supported them along with a team of trainers. The team finally came up with a good prosthetic tail for winter and a gel for cushioning the prosthesis. Finally Winter the dolphin was able to swim again and more people with disabilities and prostheses were also able to manage their prostheses better with the gel created by the Caroll and Strzempka.
5. An Anti-tremor Spoon
Engineer Anupam Pathak worked with the Army Research Lab on looking for ways to stabilize rifles for soldiers in combat. He then succeeded in identifying ways to make the hardware for motion cancellation very small and realized his innovation had the potential to help another group of people needing steady hands especially those with Essential Tremor or Parkinson's disease. He then worked hard and refined the technology to make this spoon that will cancel out tremors and help patients recover their autonomy over one of their daily functions. The liftware steady spoon cancels out more than 70% of the shaking and allows those with severe hand tremors to finally feed themselves. This makes eating less embarrassing for patients and restores confidence in a major way.
6. Railway Tunnels For Turtles
What happens when Japan's high-speed trains meet its low-speed turtles? In the past, it hasn't been pretty for either party. Near Kobe, Japan (which is on the coast), turtles trying to cross the tracks sometimes fell in the space between them and couldn't get up. They'd walk between the tracks until being run over by a passing train or until they got to a junction, at which point they'd get squished during signal switches. This wasn't just a problem for the turtles, but also for the train and its passengers, with turtle-related incidents causing 13 service disruptions between 2002 and 2013.
To combat the turtle vs. train problem, West Japan Railway Co. partnered with the Suma Aqualife Park to find a solution. They came up with “turtle tunnels,” concrete ditches that pass under the tracks near switch points. If staff find any turtles in the tunnels during their track checks, they rescue them and send them to the aquarium. A train company spokesman noted that "The system prevents turtles from getting into accidents and avoids causing trouble for our passengers. We hope to continue using it."
7. Biodegradable 6-pack rings
Plastic packaging poses a threat to wildlife on land and in the sea. The Pacific Ocean has a “garbage patch” made up of almost 80,000 tons of discarded plastic, covering an area three times the size of France, posing a threat to the sea life it encounters, who can be entangled and killed in the floating trash pile. While plastic 6-pack rings (that hold cans of soda or beer) make up a tiny fraction of the discarded plastic, consumers have long been warned to cut them up before discarding them, because they can injure or kill animals that become trapped in them.
However, one company, E6PR, has come up with an even better way to ensure that animals don't become victims. It has created an eco-friendly 6-pack ring, made from by-product waste (wheat and barley) and designed to be compostable. Even if it doesn't end up in a compost facility, it will break down in weeks and, unlike plastic, won't hurt animals if they happen to ingest it. The product had its commercial debut in early 2018 on cans of beer from Florida's Saltwater Brewery. As of mid-2018, the company is working to refine the product and ramp up production to be able to supply the 6-pack to all the beverage manufacturers who want to offer it. That's a development of animals all over the world should want to toast.
8. PARO the robot seal
PARO, an interactive robot that resembles a baby seal, may be best known for its appearance on Aziz Ansari’s sitcom, Master of None. However, PARO, which was designed in Japan, does most of its work in nursing homes and hospitals—helping provide patients with the benefits of animal therapy. Like a trained therapy animal, PARO responds to users' voice and movements with its own motions and vocalizations. However, unlike real animals, PARO doesn't need food, breaks, or clean-up doesn't play favorites amongst patients, won't trigger allergies and can be used with patients whose unpredictable behavior might pose a risk to a therapy animal.
In a study of nursing home residents, those who interacted with PARO for an hour twice a week over 12 weeks, showed significant declines in loneliness over the period of the study. For those who worry about the dehumanizing effect robotic therapy animals might have, research suggests that in addition to engaging with PARO, residents who did so were more social with other residents and staff. Another study of dementia patients found that sessions with PARO lessened anxiety, increased social interaction, and helped lethargic patients remain alert.
9. Pugedon recycling receptacle
The Pugedon recycling receptacle aims to address two problems at once—promoting recycling and feeding stray cats and dogs. The machine, which is about the size of a refrigerator, is placed on the street and powered by a solar cell. When someone throws in a recyclable bottle, the machine dispenses food for hungry strays. If users want to empty their water bottles before disposing of them, the machine also funnels that leftover water to a bowl that the strays can access. The profits garnered from the sale of the recyclables pay for the kibble dispensed by the unit. The machine was introduced in Istanbul, Turkey, which is home to more than 150,000 stray cats and dogs. Engin Gargin, the machine's inventor, said he was inspired by the idea of giving residents a cost-free way to help strays while improving Turkey's recycling rates.
One of the concerns with the units was that they would attract hordes of hungry dogs, but according to one article, that has not transpired. In India, the machines were planned with a slightly different user in mind. Pugedon units have been placed near areas where pet owners walk their dogs, in the hopes that the prospect of a free dinner for their canine companion may encourage residents to recycle.
10. The Upsee harness
Debby Elnatan, an Israeli mother of a son with cerebral palsy, was determined to see her son walk, despite doctors that counseled her that her 2-year-old, “didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them.” Elnatan worked with her son to build his walking skills, an arduous task. Elnatan says the idea of the Upsee, a harness that attaches a child to an adult, allowing the child to stand upright and to take steps with the support and motion of the adult, came from the “pain and desperation” she experienced while trying to find a way to help her son walk.
A group of 20 families with mobility-challenged children tested an early version of the product, and shared favorable results: the children enjoyed using the harness and the Upsee enabled families to undertake more activities together. The Upsee was put into mass production by Irish company Leckey and is now improving the lives of children with mobility challenges around the world.