A submarine travels seven miles below the surface of the sea. A toy pet understands your voice and movements. Gloves turn sign language into speech. Every day, inventors find ways to change our world. Here are some of the coolest inventions of 2012.
A 3-D PRINTER
The REPLICATOR is a desktop-size 3-D printer. It can make an object or hundreds of copies of it. Just create a design, and hit Print. Thin plastic layers melt together to build the object you want. The Replicator costs about $2,000. It can turn a home into a mini factory.
The toy company Bandai has created a new pet. The TECHPET app lets you connect an iPhone to a robotic doggy. The phone's screen turns into the cartoon face of a dog. The phone's camera and microphone let the pup respond to hand movements and spoken commands.
BAXTER is a new type of robot. It was built by Rodney Brooks. He helped invent the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Baxter is best at jobs like packing and sorting. It costs $22,000. That's less than other robots that do the same types of work. The lower price makes it easier for small businesses to buy robot helpers. Baxter is simple to use. It can start to help right away.
A SLIPPERY SLIDE
Five college students and their professor found a way to make a surface that nothing will stick to. LIQUIGLIDE can be used to help get ketchup out of bottles, get ice off of airplane wings and do many other things. The coating is safe and low-cost.
Just by looking up and to the right, a GOOGLE GLASS user can take and share photos, video-chat and use the Internet. The frame holds a computer, a camera, a microphone and sensors. It weighs about as much as sunglasses. The tool should be for sale by 2014.
MADE FOR EXPLORATION
NASA has made a new space suit. The flexible Z-1 space suit can protect astronauts on long flights. A hatch on the back can connect to a spacecraft or rover. The astronaut can crawl through the hatch. That keeps the dust out and the air in.
TALK TO THE GLOVE
ENABLE TALK gloves help people with speech or hearing problems talk with people who do not know sign language. The $75 gloves have sensors that understand sign language. They turn it into writing on a smartphone. Then the phone says the words.
DEEPSEA CHALLENGER SUBMARINE
In March, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER traveled to the oceans' deepest point. It went about seven miles underwater. Filmmaker James Cameron designed the sub. It cost $8 million to make. The sub weighs 12 tons and is 24 feet long. It has 3-D cameras to take pictures of the deep.