Every year, the editors of Popular Science magazine review thousands of new products and technologies in pursuit of the 100 breakthroughs that merit the magazine's highest honor, a “Best of What's New” award. Appearing in the much-anticipated December issue of Popular Science—the most widely read issue of the year—“Best of What's New” celebrates the 100 most impressive advancements in 10 categories: Automotive, Computing, Gadgets, Home Entertainment, Personal Health, Aviation & Space, Engineering, Home, Recreation, and General Innovation. This year, for the first time, the magazine is also honoring one product as the overall outstanding “Innovation of the Year,” out of the thousands of products tested. This award goes to the remarkable Hurriquake Nail, a specially designed nail that protects homes against the strong rain and wind that Mother Nature can create during even the most violent weather.
Using the small, powerful Hurriquake Nail to build homes only adds about $15 to the total building cost, versus traditional nails. Built with angled barbs circling the bottom section, it resists pulling out in wind gusts up to 170 mph, and has better holding power to protect a home’s structure during fierce storms.
In addition to the “Innovation of the Year,” topping each “Best of What’s New” category is one Grand Award winner, a product or technology that represents a significant leap over existing technologies in its industry. These winners are based on the significance of the innovation, the quality of the design and the finished product, the originality of thought, and the ambition and scope of the overall project.
A few of the 2006 Grand Award winners of the Popular Science “Best of What's New” awards are:
COMPUTING: One Laptop Per Child XO
Better Screen, Better World
The goal of this product is simple and noble: to give a laptop to every child in need, especially in developing countries, where the machines will be sold in bulk for about $130 a piece. The One Laptop Per Child nonprofit organization, formed at MIT, didn’t just create a cheap computer. In addition to cutting costs, it also improved on the standard laptop by slashing the machine’s energy use by 90 percent, ideal for a device that could be charged by hand-cranked power in rural villages.
GADGETS: Sony Reader PRS-500
Sony’s long-awaited Reader is the first E-ink-equipped e-book reader in the U.S. and can hold hundreds of books that get downloaded like music. It has a nearly inexhaustible battery and inflicts no more eyestrain than a typical paperback because it doesn’t glow like the backlit LCD screen on a computer monitor.
GENERAL INNOVATION: HP Memory Spot
Stick Digital Data On Anything
This small chip is a self-contained storage device with a radio and processor that sticks to photos, documents or cards. The two-millimeter-square chip packs in half a megabyte of flash memory and can swap all its data in less than a second, so you can load it up and read files off it almost instantaneously.
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