Albert Einstein once remarked, “Innovation is not the product of logical thought, even though the final product is tied to a logical structure.”
Innovators around the world are continually coming up with ideas that challenge the conventional wisdom and have the potential to disrupt the status quo.
What follows is a list of some of the edgiest innovations that rocked the world in 2017. I am quite certain that as you read through the list, the sheer quirkiness central to these innovations will amaze you.
As with most pathbreaking ideas, these took stepping off the trodden path to look beyond what has been done. While some of these innovations will solve long-standing problems, others will enhance the quality of daily life.
So without any further ado, here are 10 of the edgiest innovations of 2017:
1. Airless tires with 3D-printed treads
Who said you couldn’t reinvent the wheel?
That’s exactly what Michelin is doing with its new Vision concept tires. The tires are completely airless, meaning you never have to worry about them going flat.
They are made from recycled materials, and they come with 3D-printed treads that can be swapped in and out, depending on the terrain and climate.
2. Coffee that never goes cold
The only problem with a nice hot cup of coffee (or tea) is that it eventually goes cold. But not anymore.
California-based Ember Technologies has come up with a ceramic coffee cup called the Ember Mug that keeps your coffee or tea at a precise temperature for as long as you’d like. You can get yours for $79.95.
3. A portable, wearable breast pump
Ladies, this one is for you. The Willow Pump is a portable, wearable breast pump that fits under a bra and is silent enough that people around you won’t even know that you’re producing milk.
The pump includes freezer-ready bags that line the cups of a typical bra. This innovation is so edgy that it might just make breastfeeding in public socially acceptable.
4. An elevator that goes up, down and sideways
If your view of elevators is that they can only go up and down, then get ready to have your mind blown with the MULTI elevator from Germany’s Thyssenkrupp.
These elevators use special magnetic levitation technology to go sideways – this means that elevator cars in a building can literally get out of each other’s way when going up or down.
The company tested its first MULTI elevator in 2017, and the plan is to build one into a building in Berlin by 2021. This has the potential to re-invent the way high-rise buildings and skyscrapers are constructed.
5. Silk ties made from vats of yeast
The next time you need a tie for a big corporate event, why not just buy one that has been grown in a giant vat of yeast? Wait, what?
Bolt Threads is pioneering the use of synthetic silk clothing (such as BoltSpun neckties) that is made from yeast. The ties are fermented, the same way you might ferment beer.
This could revolutionize the way clothing is made. Who needs sheep or goats anymore when you have nice, friendly bacteria to do all the hard work for you?
6. Floating wind farms
The Hywind Scotland is a massive wind farm that’s also, well, a radically new type of seagoing vessel. It’s designed to float in 400-foot waters off the coast of Scotland.
The idea is that the five massive wind turbines onboard are big enough to power 20,000 homes. Right now, the wind farm is still floating near Scotland – but if needed, the wind farm could travel even further offshore.
Most people say that wind turbines are unsightly and mar beautiful ocean views, so the plan eventually is to move the Hywind Scotland further into the ocean. Who knows?
Maybe there’s a futuristic scenario in which these wind farms could be sent to areas that have been devastated by hurricanes, tidal floods or monsoons, giving them a source of power until the electricity has been restored.
7. High-performance athletic gear for Muslim women
Nike is at the forefront of designing high-performance hijabs for Muslim women, with the latest product known as the Nike Pro Hijab. It’s based on a design suggested by a weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates, and is designed to be light, breathable and aerodynamic.
This innovation is so edgy primarily because of who it might offend and why – it’s easy to see some religious Muslims getting a little worked up about the famous Nike swoosh logo appearing prominently on women’s hijabs.
8. A wearable VR device for the masses
Until recently, you basically had two choices when it came to experiencing virtual reality (VR) technology – either you bought a cheap VR headset that you slid your smartphone into, or you bought an expensive VR headset that also required a powerful computer.
In 2017, Facebook introduced a concept for the Oculus Go, a $199 VR headset for the masses. It’s going to have enough computing power to make it possible to experience virtual reality without making a huge investment. The product is going to be commercially available in early 2018.
9. A gym that’s also an AI-powered health clinic
For most people, a doctor is someone you visit only when you are sick and in need of care. By then, it’s too late. So San Francisco-based Forward wants to change that with a potentially revolutionary healthcare concept. The idea is to create a wellness clinic that is also a workout gym.
In their one Los Angeles location, you pay $149 a month, and for that price, you get a gym for working out, free checkups and routine doctor visits, free genetic screening, and routine blood work analysis.
The goal is to spot disease or illness before it ever occurs. Thus, while it might be pricey to shell out $149 a month, it could be significantly cheaper than paying for healthcare at some point in the future when you need it the most.
10. A fax machine for DNA
People are used to the idea of faxing documents to each other for business. But what about faxing personal DNA?
That’s the concept behind the Digital-to-Biological Computer (DBC), which makes it possible to print out sequences of genetic code through the use of digital instructions received via a fax-line machine.
Once a lab has been “faxed” these instructions, it can produce the DNA on demand. Some see this as a way to mass-produce valuable vaccines if there’s an epidemic anywhere in the world. No more waiting for valuable vaccines to be airlifted in from another country.
What all these innovations share in common is that they are challenging the way we think about the world around us. In some cases, they have the potential to change the way we live our daily lives. In other cases, they have the power to change the future arc of industries, societies and even nations.
What do you think which one of these innovations is going to have the biggest impact on our world? Let me know in the box below.