The real measure of innovation is not just how well it works or how impressively it is engineered, but how it changes lives. Everyone has their own list, depending upon interest and perspective. Here is an eclectic mix of a few of ours in no special order.

2000

  1. Biotech therapies: cancer, HIV, Hepatitis, flu and tumor vaccines
  2. Automated Sequencing Machine (deciphers human genetic code)
  3. Development of adult stem cell lines
  4. Paleontologists find of 45-million-year-old smallest primate Eosimias in China
  5. AT&T introduces Text Messaging in U.S.

2001

  1. AbioCor artificial heart and artificial liver
  2. Infrared smoke alarm, heat recovery ventilator
  3. Alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles (Toyota’s Prius)
  4. Apple Computer’s iPod
  5. Wikipedia, free user-generated online encyclopedia came online

2002

  1. Mars Rovers
  2. Coin- and credit-card-operated vending machines
  3. Camera chip, wireless headset
  4. Birth control patch
  5. Infoscope

2003

  1. Human Genome Project completed
  2. iTunes Music Store
  3. Cialis
  4. Invisible Technology
  5. Surround-sound speakers

2004

  1. Google goes public (search engines now ubiquitous)
  2. Water on surface of Mars
  3. Robo-Soldier
  4. Discovery of uranium/thorium fractionation ( new geochemical marker for early life on earth)
  5. SpaceShipOne

2005

  1. YouTube
  2. Sony’s Playstation Portable (PSP)
  3. Digital underwater cameras
  4. Digital hearing devices
  5. Bioimplantable devices, Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL

2006

  1. Nintendo Wii (revolutionizes video game play)
  2. Science on a Sphere – NOAA-full-motion video cinema-in-the-round experience
  3. Solar Skin
  4. SinuClear Microlaser Hand Tool (laser surgery)
  5. Strawjet-farming tool processes straw into a mats for eco-friendly composite building panels

2007

  1. The Apple iPhone
  2. NASA’s methane-fueled rocket
  3. Espresso Book Machine on demand printed books
  4. Emissions-free extraction technology using microwaves to pull fuel out of shale rock, tires and plastic bottles
  5. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

2008

1.      The Retail DNA Test
2.      Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (lro)
3.      The Mobile, Dexterous, Social Robot
4.      Thin-Film Solar Panels
5.      Smog-Eating Cement

2009

  1. A retinal implant for the blind
  2. NASA’s Ares Rockets
  3. The SixthSense, wearable gestural interface interacts with digital information
  4. The AIDS Vaccine
  5. Vertical hydroponic systems farming

2010

  1. The Apple iPad
  2. The Straddling Bus
  3. The Synthetic Cell
  4. Electric-Car Charging Stations
  5. The Sugru superglue

Our subjective favorite from 2010’s Chinese Expo is the British Pavilion’s Seed Cathedral where Chinese visitors nicknamed it pu gong ying, the dandelion.

The enormity of the challenges that the world faces is endless but includes some of the following areas:

  • Create economical environmentally friendly power sources
  • Enhance scientific discovery and exploration
  • Nuclear fusion for peaceful purposes
  • Reverse engineer the brain
  • Biotechnology
  • Counter terrorism and secure cyberspace
  • Improve methods of instruction and learning
  • Ecology of the environment
  • Sustain aging infrastructures of cities
  • Digital health information
  • Enhance medicine including research, robotics, better drugs and care
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