Best Inventions of 2017

February 16, 2018
SEBASTIAN MADER FOR TIME

Inventions can change the world. Some are made for work. Others are just for fun. Some help people and the planet. Every year, TIME magazine picks 25 of its favorite new inventions. Here, TFK looks at six. These inventions make us excited about the future. Read on to see what’s special about each one. Which invention do you like best?

Growing Under the Sea

ILLUSTRATION BY ALEX EBEN MEYER FOR TIME FOR KIDS

What is the future of farming? It might be growing food on the ocean floor. That’s what Bren Smith says. He is the director of GreenWave. The group is leading the way in underwater farming. It is raising oysters, clams, and seaweed underwater. The idea isn’t as wild as it may seem. Farming on land can be harmful to the planet. And many oceans are overfished. GreenWave hopes to help. Its crops don’t use any fertilizer. They even help fight climate change.

The company is helping fishermen. It set up 14 farms in the United States. Now it plans to expand to Europe.

Running Into the Future

This shoe is special. It is built using 3D-printing technology. The Zero1 helmet sells for $1,500.

SEBASTIAN MADER FOR TIME

Picture a shoe that lets you run faster and jump higher. That’s the idea behind the Futurecraft 4D. It’s a new sneaker from Adidas. The shoe has a special midsole. The midsole is the padding on the bottom. The Futurecraft 4D midsole can be altered to fit a wearer.

What is the key to making the shoe so special? It is the 3D printing. Normally, it would take weeks to make a shoe like this. But this shoe’s midsole can be printed in two hours. That means Adidas could even make them in stores. That’s what the company hopes for the future.

How did Adidas dream up this new shoe? They looked at 17 years’ worth of information from runners.

More Ways to Play

NINTENDO

Nobody likes to stop playing a great game when they leave home. With the Nintendo Switch, you don’t have to. It’s a handheld tablet. So users can play it away from home. It also has two controllers. They come off the sides. So more than one user can play. People seem to like the options. Switch went on sale in March 2017. In December, Nintendo announced that it had sold 10 million of them.

A Safer Helmet

RENDERING BY VICIS

Football players wear helmets for protection. The helmets are made of hard plastic. But Sam Browd had an idea. Browd is a doctor. What if the outer shell were made of a softer material? Helmets could work like car bumpers. They could absorb some of the impact.

Browd drew a plan on a napkin. Now a company called VICIS is working to make the helmet. “We wanted to build the safest helmet ever made,” says VICIS’s CEO, Dave Marver. The result is the Zero1. It is now being used by 18 NFL teams. About 20 college teams are using it too. Next up: a model for younger athletes.

A Friendly Robot

SEBASTIAN MADER FOR TIME

There are many personal robots. Amazon Echo and Google Home are two you may know of. They can tell you the weather. They can play your favorite song.

Jibo is different. His face uses icons to show emotions. He can giggle and dance. Jibo has six microphones. They let him known where sounds are coming from. So he can face you when you say, “Hey, Jibo.”

Jibo seems almost human. The technology is amusing. And it could change how we interact with machines.

Glasses That Help

ESIGHT

Millions of people are legally blind. For them, getting around can be hard. Canes and guide dogs can help. But they don’t let people see. ESight 3 does. Think of it as the world’s most powerful glasses.

When users put on eSight, it records high-quality video. It then uses special tools to turn those images into something the blind can see. The device lets users take part in a variety of sports and activities.

ESight costs nearly $10,000. The high price means not everyone can afford it. But it is cheaper than the company’s earlier versions.

It’s also lighter and faster. So far, the company estimates that it has been used by more than 1,000 people.