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Best Inventions of 2020

Each year, TIME for Kids picks the coolest and most helpful new inventions. Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao, 15, is an inventor. Gitanjali selected these items from TIME’s list of the 100 Best Inventions of 2020. Read what she has to say below.

SHARIF HAMZA FOR TIME

Our generation is seeing problems that have never existed before, in addition to serious long-standing issues. We need to innovate. We need to generate new ideas and build on them to have a meaningful impact on the future. We want a sustainable sustainable XUANYU HAN—GETTY IMAGES able to be maintained (adjective) Windmills are a sustainable source of electricity. world. Young people will play a significant role in getting us there. So let’s change the old ways. I hope the inventions on this list will inspire you to come up with solutions of your own. —By Gitanjali Rao

Ultimate Indoor Garden

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Eating a salad is more satisfying when you harvest the greens yourself. Want to grow a garden but don’t have a yard? Consider a Gardyn. This is a vertical indoor-growing system. It’s powered by artificial intelligence artificial intelligence THOSSAPHOL—GETTY IMAGES the ability of machines to imitate human intelligence (noun) Artificial intelligence has made it possible to manufacture cars faster than ever before. . You can choose from 32 plants. They include fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. They’ll grow right in your home. Load in the seedpods. An app monitors light and humidity. Then it lets you know when your crops are ready to harvest. —By Marjorie Korn

Following the Conversation

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Robotics might help virtual classes feel more human. The Meeting Owl Pro is a 360° tabletop camera. It shifts its lens and microphone to whoever is speaking. In hybrid classes, virtual participants will have a better feel for what’s happening in the room. “It’s able to follow the conversation,” Max Makeev says. He’s a cofounder of Owl Labs. To date, Owl Labs products are used by more than 50,000 companies and universities. They’re also used by K–12 schools. —By Jesse Will

Portable Purifier

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“When people want clean water, they reach for plastic bottles,” Rakesh Guduru says. He’s the CEO of CrazyCap. But many people want a more sustainable way to hydrate on the go. So Guduru created a bottle cap. It uses cleansing UVC light. It sanitizes water in 60 seconds. The device has two settings. One purifies water from taps and fountains. The other purifies water from streams and ponds. The cap is rechargeable. It works with many reusable bottles. —By Simmone Shah

High-Tech Tutor

JESSICA PETTWAY FOR TIME

Robots have always fascinated Van Robotics CEO Laura Boccanfuso. But she felt most were too expensive. They were too technical for real-life use. So she developed ABii. It’s a robot tutor. It helps kids learn math and reading. Many students are learning from home. That’s because of the pandemic. “Schools more than ever need individualized learning help,” Boccanfuso says. ABii comes with lessons created by teachers. It uses a camera to detect changes in a student’s attention. Then it adjusts its approach. This helps individual learners. —By Nadia Suleman

Taking Notes

JESSICA PETTWAY FOR TIME

In 2013, Magnus Wanberg saw his colleagues taking notes on paper instead of on their laptops and phones. “Why hasn’t anyone replaced paper with technology?” he wondered. This led him to create the reMarkable paper tablet. It converts handwriting into digital text. It was released in 2016. Its thin design mimics paper. Now Wanberg has made the reMarkable 2. It’s less than a quarter inch thick: 30% skinnier than the original. And its battery can go two weeks per charge. —By Mariah Espada

Robofriend

JESSICA PETTWAY FOR TIME

This robot is friendly. It’s designed to boost empathy empathy CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP—GETTY IMAGES the ability to understand another’s feelings (noun) Reading helps you develop empathy. and social skills. It’s for kids ages 5 to 10. Moxie was created by experts in education and child development. Between them, they have worked on the TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, for Pixar, and for the Jim Henson Company. Moxie is a compassionate pal. It encourages reading and drawing. The robot sends kids on missions. These include writing kind notes to family members and talking about feelings with a friend. —By Marjorie Korn

Helpful Headset

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AlterEgo was designed by researchers at the MIT Media Lab. This headset lets you communicate with a computer without touching a keyboard or speaking. Want to do a task, such as search for a weather forecast? Ask the question to yourself, silently. Sensors read signals from your face. Then the device uses a web connection to complete the task on your laptop. Researchers found that a prototype prototype SKYNESHER—GETTY IMAGES a model (noun) Before construction began on the bridge, the architects built a prototype. understood its user 92% of the time. —By Jason Cipriani

Smaller Compact Car

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Do your parents get frustrated looking for a parking spot in a busy area? City Transformer’s electric vehicle could be the solution. The Israeli company’s two-seat car is tiny. But it’s fast. It can reach 55 miles per hour. At slower speeds, the vehicle can pull its wheels in closer for a one-meter (about one yard) width. This helps it fit on narrow streets and into snug spots. City Transformer expects the first vehicles to be on the road in Tel Aviv, Israel, by 2022. —By Patrick Lucas Austin

Handwashing Station

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Handwashing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of viruses. But about 40% of the world’s population lacks running water and soap at home. That’s why Japan’s LIXIL has created the SATO Tap. It’s a portable portable PW-portable KLAUS VEDFELT—GETTY IMAGES able to be carried (adjective) A laptop is a portable computer. handwashing station. It has a soap holder. The gadget is expected to go on sale in early 2021. It will cost between $3 and $6. LIXIL is working to get 500,000 units to households around the world. The company plans to do this in the next year. —By Ciara Nugent

More-Inclusive Gaming

JESSICA PETTWAY FOR TIME

About 46 million gamers in the U.S. have a disability. For some, standard controllers are hard to use. In 2018, Microsoft introduced its Xbox Adaptive Controller. It has ports. You can plug in aids, such as a foot pedal. Now Microsoft and Logitech have made the Adaptive Gaming Kit. It costs $99. Players get 10 buttons, two triggers, hooks, pads, loops, and other gear to customize their controllers. One reviewer described the kit as “honestly revolutionary.” —By Matthew Gault

Better Smartphone

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More than 50 million tons of electronic waste is created each year. It includes materials that were unethically sourced. (For example, the gold in circuit boards is often mined under dangerous conditions.) But Fairphone makes phones from responsibly sourced materials. And they’re built to last. Made of up to 40% recycled plastic, the new Fairphone 3+ has an expected life span of five years. It has replaceable parts. You can change your battery, screen, or camera with a screwdriver. This will encourage users to keep the device longer. —By Patrick Lucas Austin

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