A submarine that can travel seven miles below the surface of the sea. A toy pet that reacts to your voice and movements. Gloves that can turn sign language into speech. Every day, inventors find ways to change our world. Here are some of the coolest inventions of 2012. Which invention would you most like to own? Which one do you wish you had thought of?
A 3-D PRINTER
The Replicator is a desktop-size 3-D printer. It can create an actual object—or hundreds of copies of it. Just download or create a design, and hit Print. Thin plastic layers melt together to create the object you want. For $2,199, the Replicator can turn a home into a mini factory.
A college student and an Army Ranger created BOUNCE to help soldiers, firefighters and police. Bounce, which is the size of a baseball, can be tossed into a dangerous area. Six cameras snap pictures. Bounce's sensors look for danger and send the information to mobile devices.
DEEPSEA CHALLENGER SUBMARINE
In March, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER traveled to the oceans' deepest point. It went about seven miles below the surface of the western Pacific. Filmmaker James Cameron designed the sub, which cost $8 million to make. The sub weighs 12 tons and is 24 feet long. It has digital 3-D cameras to take images of the deep.
In October, flying humans wearing batlike suits took part in the first-ever WINGSUIT FLYING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, in China. The suits cost up to $2,000. The 20 racers traveled almost a mile in about 30 seconds. South African Julian Boulle won the race in 23.41 seconds.
BAXTER is a new type of working robot. It was built by Rodney Brooks. He helped invent the Roomba vacuum cleaner. Baxter is best at tasks like packing and sorting. It costs $22,000, less than other robots that do the same types of jobs. This gives small businesses greater access to robot helpers. Baxter is easy to use, so people can put it right to work.
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 contains a computer, a camera, a microphone and sensors. It weighs about as much as sunglasses. The high-tech device should be for sale by 2014.
Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde can make a small white cloud in the middle of a room. The temperature, humidity and lighting must be perfectly planned. Once everything is ready, Smilde creates the cloud using a fog machine. It does not last long, but the memory of its beauty stays with you.
SCREWDRIVER IN MOTION
Using special sensors, Black & Decker's cordless Max Gyro is the world's first motion-activated screwdriver. The $40 tool senses wrist motions. It turns these movements into changes in the drill's speed and direction.
The toy company Bandai has created a lovable new pet. The TechPet app lets you connect an iPhone to the robotic doggy. The phone's screen turns into the cartoon face of a dog that is eager to be taken care of. A camera helps this puppy recognize hand gestures. The phone's microphone lets it respond to spoken commands.
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 get ketchup out of bottles, get ice off of airplane wings and do many things in between. The low-cost slippery coating is made from safe-to-eat plant materials.
THE DO-IT-YOURSELF MACHINE KIT
Marcin Jakubowski built a tractor in six days. Then he told the world how to do it. He posted the building plans and a how-to video online. Jakubowski is the founder of Open Source Ecology. He is making more free instruction kits. He picked 50 machines that are important for modern life. His kits will help anyone, anywhere build a low-cost version of each machine.
MADE FOR EXPLORATION
As the U.S. gets ready for new space missions, NASA has created a new space suit. The flexible Z-1 space suit can protect astronauts for longer flights. A hatch on the back lets the suit dock with a spacecraft or rover. That lets the astronaut crawl through without letting dust in or air out.
TALK TO THE GLOVE
Four Ukrainian students created ENABLE TALK gloves. The gloves help people with speech or hearing problems communicate with people who do not know sign language. The $75 gloves have sensors that recognize sign language. The gloves translate it into text that can be read out loud on a smartphone.
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