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10 Top Inventions for 2011

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Popular Science has featured an Invention Awards for five years.  This year’s ten top inventions, according to Popular Science, are carrying on the tradition of past awards years.   The inventions highlight genius, creativeness, care for people and the planet and the unbelievable dedication of the creators to their projects.  The winners this year include: The Stark Hand, The BodyGuard, The Print Brush, The Kstal Landing Pad, Dynamic Eye Sunglasses, Bed Bug Detective, Antenatal Screening Kit, Zero Liquid Discharge, Kymera Body Board and the Medical Mirror.  Here are how some of the inventions were created, total time expended and estimated cost to date as reported by MSNBC.

The Stark Hand: designed and created by Mark Stark.  There are three kinds of prosthetic hands: cosmetic, low-cost mechanical, and hooks.  Mark Stark wished to combine all elements in to an inexpensive device that is a more natural solution. Mr. Stark’s day job is designing valves for appliances, but became interested in prosthetics because a friend was born without a left hand.  The hand is attached to a cable connected to a shoulder harness. The hand has a lever on the palm that allows the fingers to open and close. Separate cables allow each finger to open and close individually.  Stark has worked on the project for seven years at an estimated cost of $17,000 - $18,000.

The BodyGuard: Designed and developed by David Brown, who is a cameraman, editor and producer.  If you read comic books, or have an affinity for superhero movies you may recognize this invention. It’s an armored glove that comes with a video camera, wrist mounted stunner, flashlight and will have many more features as development continues.   He developed the device within 48 hours from a medical arm brace, a stun gun and fire alarm button. Actor Kevin Costner is one of his investors.  The glove is enclosed by a hard shell that extends up the forearm. A pull pin controls the stunner and a button on the palm activates it. Similar buttons will control the other features. The project has had seven years in developed at an undisclosed cost.

The Kstal Landing Pad:  Six years ago Aaron Coret wanted to be a pro snowboarder. At the time he was also an engineering student at the University of British Columbia. One cold winter morning he went off a 50 foot jump at Whistler Blackcomb and his life changed forever. He was paralyzed from the neck down.  Immediately he wanted to increase the safety factors of the sport he loved.  He and fellow student Stephen Slen teamed up to created a landing pad for snowboarding and ski tricks.  The Kstal Landing Pad was born.  It is a 15 x 20 x 5 foot nylon pad containing two inflatable chambers. 

The upper chamber is sealed, while the lower chambers have valves to release air on impact in a controlled manner. The competitor can land on the pad, it remains firm, and they can ride off of it, while having enough compression to reduce the risk to the body. Slen tested it himself on the same jump at Whistler Blackcomb. The pad was used during the opening ceremony at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  Six years of development have gone in to the project at an undisclosed cost.

Antenatal Screening Kit: Designed by eight Johns Hopkins students with Sean Monagle at the lead. This Prenatal Screening Kit – or Safety Pen- helps doctors detect early stage pregnancy complications.  It is a very cheap product costing 1/3 of a cent to manufacture, making it ideal for medical treatment in Third World and developing nations.  The students wanted to develop the screening kit because 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in third world countries.

Most women in these countries receive little or no medical care during pregnancy.  It needed to be cost effective, capable of detecting problems early and of course be accurate.  Urine samples are tested for different complications. A line is drawn on a piece of filter paper with the pen, and then a drop of urine is applied to the paper. The test strip turns a different color for different conditions where the line was drawn with the pen. The “ink” contains chemical reagents.  The students are planning different color inks for different conditions.  The project was developed in three years at a cost of $20,000.

Kymera Motorized Body Board:  Jason Wood, the inventor, wanted to have fun at the lake. But he didn’t want the hassle and trouble of hauling around a boat which was an expensive hassle.  His concept was to create a carbon fiber body board with a small engine attached with which the rider could propel themselves around the water at exciting speeds. It had to be lightweight and portable to enable the user to carry it to the water.  His latest design incorporates a 5 horsepower motor, gets up to 15 miles per hour, has carbon fiber and handlebars. To steer you lean your body from side to side. When the motor is stopped the board drifts to a stop. After eight years of develop, at a cost of $40,000, Jason is ready to mass produce the product for the general public.

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