Dyson's 20 Best Inventions of the Year

It's always fun to see the single invention that the James Dyson Foundation picks as its best design idea of the year—but it's even more fun to see the final list of possibilities, which Dyson released tonight before the November 6 announcement of a winner.

The following 20 proposals come from all over the world—they range from healthcare tools to packaging to consumer products—and they represent the finalists in Dyson's 600+ list of possible winners for this year's award (we've looked at some of the others, including the American winner). Check them out below—and let us know which you think should win, and why.


A System That Monitors Injuries In Disabled Athletes

Bruise, developed at London's Royal College of Art, is a system that alerts athletes who don't have sensation in a particular part of their body monitor injuries in those areas. It uses a special pressure-sensitive ink, encased in a wearable suit, to let athletes know when they might have critically injured a part of their body.

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A Protein-Based Expiration Label

Designer Solveiga Pakstaite's Bump Mark is a smarter system for labeling supermarket meat. It's a tiny patch of gelatin—essentially, protein—that decays at the same rate as meat. As it decays, the tag gets bumpy—and you know the meat inside is mimicking the same process.


A Blood Centrifuge That's Powered By a Bike Wheel

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A product design student named Jack Trew came up with Spokefuge: A system for diagnosing anemia that uses a bike's wheel rather than a traditional medical centrifuge. The doctor simply puts the blood sample inside one of Trew's tubes, which is attached to the bike spokes. It needs to be ridden for just 10 minutes to make a diagnosis.


An Inflatable Incubator

Incubators are expensive and unwieldily to transport—and designer James Roberts says that 85 infants out of every 1,000 childbirths in refugee camps will die because of the lack of them. Roberts created MOM, an inexpensive, efficient, and inflatable alternative, for the developing world.


Inexpensive, Customizable Prescription Peepers

Similarly, two American designers named Nathan Brajer and Evan Madill point to a lack of access to prescription eyeglasses in the developing world—to a tune of 700 million people. Their customizable eyeglasses arrive in three parts, and are designed to be assembled once they've already arrived, saving on costs and shipping.


Cheap, Tough Cardboard Panniers

Austrian designers Matthias Lechner and Philipp Moherndl created what amounts to a bike-friendly version of paper shopping bags: Packtasche, a foldable cardboard carrying case that latches onto your bike rack.


A Smartphone App That Diagnoses Vision Problems

And speaking of vision, there's EyeCheck, an app designed by Ashutosh Syal and Daxal Desai that can provide necessary eye prescriptions in rural areas with the help of a smartphone camera and flash—which shines light into the patient's eye to make a diagnosis.


Ink That Tells You When Your Sunscreen Isn't Working

We wrote about Suncayr, the University of Waterloo-developed product that's designed to warn of fading sunscreen, earlier this fall. You simply apply it with your sunscreen and, when light is getting through, it changes color to let you know it's time to reapply.


An Inflating Compress To Stop Bleeding In the Wild

We've all heard horror stories about solitary climbers stuck in the wild without the tools to staunch a life-threatening wound. Uflex, a compress designed by Julian Lois and Ines le Bihan, is designed to be applied with one hand a bit like a slap bracelet (no slapping involved, of course). When it hits the skin, it inflates to compress the cut until help can be found.


A Smart Cane That Helps You Climb Stairs

The brilliantly-named Luke Stairwalker is a low-tech alternative to stair-climbing devices. Instead, it uses a simple internal mechanism to lock onto any stair railing, providing a slip-proof grip for climbers.

A Wheelchair That Moves From Sit To Stand

Conventional wheelchairs offer little by way of exploring the x-axis of the world—and a pair of University of Tsukuba students aim to change that with QOLO, a wheelchair that moves from standing to sitting and allows for movemenet in either mode.


A Robotic Rehabilitation Assistant

Everyone ages—but more of us are about to get there than ever before. RAPLUS is a robotic device that can attach to the orthoses commonly used in rehabilitation, helping the elderly recover mobility faster and culling data about their recovery for doctors.

A Hand-Drawing Compass That's Got Computer Smarts

Miss the good old days of your metal compass, but can't do without the brains of CAD? Meet COM*PASS, designed by Ken Nakagaki, which draws on physical paper using digital tools.


A Kettle That Only Heats the Water You Actually Use

How full do you fill your kettle when you're making tea? Odds are it's more than just the cup or two you want. Nils Chudy's MIITO is designed to reduce all that wasted heating energy by only heating the actual cup of water you're using, thanks to an inductive base.


A 3D Printer That Moves Beyond the Box

When you imagine a 3D printer, what do you see? Odds are that it's a small desktop box, only capable of printing bits and pieces. Vanguard 3D, designed by New Zealand student William Nicholson, is like a 3D printer on wheels—it's a printing nozzle detached from a portable pumping unit, making it possible to print in nearly any conditions.


A Super-Realistic Surgery Simulator

It's a long-standing question in medical education: How do you train surgeons for surgeries that don't happen very often? Raymond Hon and Loren Lim's HAND is a surgery simulator that walks students through every aspect of unusual hand-based procedures, from planning to incising to suturing, by mimicking the real feel of skin and the anatomy of the hand.


An Inflatable Pack That Helps Immobile Patients Move

Flipod—another finalist we covered this fall—is a pneumatic backpack that lets caregivers of the immobile move their patients with the help of an adjustable air pillow. The caregiver can inflate specific parts of the pack to help flip patients to prevent bedsores, or help them sit up in bed.


A Fishing Net That Knows When It's Been Ripped

Broken and abandoned fishing nets are a huge problem in oceans—designer Alejandro Plasencia calls them "ghost nets," creating thousands of bits of plastic waste and hurting the sea life that entangles them. Remora is an app and hardware system that notifying fishermen when a net is ripped, thanks to an RFID-enabled monitoring system.


A Wheelchair That Borrows From the Bike

Designer Sebastian Llao Dias invented the Moveker C1 with sufferers of muscular dystrophy—who can "can move all their limbs, but may not have sufficient strength to use a normal bicycle"—in mind. It looks like a conventional wheelchair, but uses a gearing system and hand-cranked levers to move faster and with more ease.


A Solar Water Bottle That Turns Air Vapor Into Potable Water

Fontus, an incredibly high-tech-sounding water bottle designed by Kristof Retezar, that's actually fairly simple at its core. It uses power from solar cells to collect and condense condensation in the air, as Retezar explains:

Fontus has a small cooler installed in its centre. This cooler is divided in two: when powered by electricity, the upper side cools down and the bottom side gets hot. Air enters the bottom chamber at high speed when the bike is moving, cooling the hot side down. When air enters the upper chamber it is stopped by non-linearly perforated walls, reducing its speed in order to give the air time to lose its water molecules.