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The Economist's assembled judging panel singles out eight innovation success stories (Phot...

The Economist magazine announced the winners of its 2012 Innovation Awards on Thursday evening. Selected from fields as diverse as bioscience, telecommunications, energy and aerospace, the winners were selected by a panel of judges, comprised largely of previous award winners. As diverse as they were, those awarded did share one particular trait: far from being pie-in-the-sky ideas, their innovations were all proven technologies. Gizmag attended the awards ceremony at BAFTA in London to get the lowdown on the event.  Read More

Edwin Thomas, left, and Jae-Hwang Lee holding a polymer material containing three bullets ...

Scientists have theorized that paper-thin composite nanomaterials could stop bullets just as effectively as heavy weight body armor, but progress has been hampered by their inability to reliably test such materials against projectile impacts. Researchers at MIT and Rice University have developed a breakthrough stress-test that fires microscopic glass beads at impact-absorbing material. Although the projectiles are much smaller than a bullet, the experimental results could be scaled up to predict how the material would stand up to larger impacts.  Read More

An experimental ear-powered chip, with a penny for scale

Our ears work by converting the vibrations of the eardrum into electrochemical signals that can be interpreted by the brain. The current for those signals is supplied by an ion-filled chamber deep within the inner ear – it’s essentially a natural battery. Scientists are now looking at using that battery to power devices that could be implanted in the ear, without affecting the recipient’s hearing.  Read More

The medical tape is designed to peel off while leaving the adhesive behind

Pulling off a finger plaster is one of life’s little trials that can reveal a lot about a person. Do it fast or do it slow, it still hurts like heck and there’s no pretending that it didn't. For an adult, it’s an instant of pain, but for a newborn it can mean injury or even permanent scarring. In order to prevent this, a team of researchers are developing a new medical tape that can be pulled off safely without tearing delicate infant skin.  Read More

A Slower Speed of Light

A bite-sized computer game exploring the effects of Einstein's special theory of relativity is the first output from the MIT Game Lab made available online. In A Slower Speed of Light, the player navigates a seemingly rudimentary 3D environment with the goal of collecting 100 orbs. Thing is, each orb slows down the speed of light until, by the 90th or so orb, it has slowed almost to walking pace. The slower light travels, the trippier the effects, and the more taxing the game becomes.  Read More

Artist's concept of Apophis being hit with paintballs (Image: MIT)

How do you deflect a civilization-destroying asteroid that's heading straight for Earth? Shoot paintballs at it. This may sound like an exercise in futility, but if the calculations of MIT graduate student Sung Wook Paek are correct, then the sport of running around in the woods shooting splotches of paint at people on the weekends could get a lot more respect.  Read More

MIT has developed pencil 'leads' that can be used to draw gas sensors onto paper

We’ve already seen a pen with silver-based ink, that lets its user draw electrical circuits on ordinary paper. Now, scientists from MIT have brought similar “hands on” technology to the humble pencil – they’ve compressed carbon nanotubes together to form a pencil lead substitute, that has been used to draw gas sensors onto regular paper imprinted with gold electrodes.  Read More

Like-A-Hug was created by Melissa Kit Chow, in collaboration with Andy Payne and Phil Seat...

The internet allows us to communicate more easily than ever, but however many Facebook friends you have, there’s no substitute for a real hug – or at least there wasn’t until recently. Like-A-Hug is a concept social media vest which reacts to Facebook "likes" and posts on your wall, inflating to give you a “hug” on every such interaction. Wearers of the vest can embrace themselves in order to cause another person sporting a Like-A-Hug vest to get a hug, too.  Read More

The Last Pictures time capsule

When the EchoStar XVI television satellite lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome later this year, it will be carrying a message to the future designed to last billions of years. As it swings in geosynchronous orbit 35,786 kilometers (22,236 mi) above our planet, it will have a gold-plated silicon disc bolted to it, nano-etched with 100 black-and-white images depicting life on Earth.  Read More

Formlabs desktop 3D printer Form 1

Formlabs, a start-up led by MIT researchers, has created a desktop 3D printer that uses stereolithography (SLA) technology normally reserved for costly high-end printers. While other at-home 3D printers use a process where ABS plastic is melted and extruded in thin strips, SLA uses lasers to cure liquid resin in microscopic layers. The Form 1 3D printer, which is described as the first "prosumer" 3D printer, accomplishes this using the same type of laser found in your Blu-ray player.  Read More

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