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The greatest innovations of 2016

Each year, Popular Science picks the 100 greatest new innovations in science and technology to feature in our Best Of What's New issue. These are the breakthroughs that will shape the future.

Some of them:

Virtual Reality for Regular People: Sony Playstation VR

The strict requirements of high-def VR gaming require beefy PCs to use. The PlayStation VR makes the experience plug-and-play for Sony’s more than 40 million preexisting PS4 owners.


Parrot Disco: The Easiest-Flying Drone

If you’ve thrown a paper plane, you can launch the Parrot Disco. Toss the 1.6-pound drone into the sky, and onboard sensors—gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, barometer, and GPS—navigate the fixed-wing craft to 150 feet, where it circles awaiting further command. 


Lytro Cinema Camera: Green Screen, Sans the Green

Light-field cameras, which allow users to tweak parts of an image into focus, are increasingly common among consumer cameras.


Microsoft Skype Translator, The End of the Language Barrier

The Internet connected us all—but what good is that if we can’t understand each other? Skype’s artificial-intelligence-based Translator is our digital Tower of ­Babel. 


WhatsApp Encryption, 1 Billion Safer People

In April 2016, more than 1 billion cellphone users gained the ability to outsmart the NSA or any third-party snoop when Open Whisper Systems released its WhatsApp end-to-end encryption protocols.


Microsoft and Univ. of Washington DNA Storage: The Densest Data

Instead of server farms, the entire Internet may one day be the size of a shoe box. That’s what researchers at Microsoft and the University of Washington proved in July, when they encoded 200 megabytes of digital files into the building blocks of DNA—breaking the previous 20-megabyte record.


Google Daydream Labs, Creating VR in VR

Daydream Labs lets developers animate and build virtual reality not on a flat computer screen, but for the first time inside VR itself. 


BSX LVL Wearable Hydration Monitor: Dehydration Detector

Even professional athletes are terrible at staying hydrated. So BSX created the wrist-worn LVL, the first wearable to measure hydration in real time.


Roost Smart Battery: Not Just a Battery

Downed smoke detectors lead to almost 900 fire-related deaths a year. Roost’s Wi-Fi-enabled 9-volt battery will alert you when it’s about to die—no more annoying chirps. 


There are also a lot of another innovations provided during 2016.

And we also hope that this year will bring us more and more interesting, useful and vital inventions.




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