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Top ten technology firsts of 2010


November 23, 2010

Gizmag's top technology firsts of 2010

Gizmag's top technology firsts of 2010

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Nanotechnology, electric vehicles, renewable energy, quantum computing and slicker, smarter consumer electronics – just some of the fields in which the rollercoaster of human technological development continues to gather pace each year ... and 2010 was no exception. As the calendar flips towards December, it's time for a look back at some of the key world first breakthroughs that have caught our attention over the past 12 months.

Here's our favorite firsts in emerging technology for 2010:

1. First truly synthetic organism created

Back in May, scientists completed a 15 year quest to create the first self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cell. The team led by Craig Venter of America’s J. Craig Venter Institute (JVCI) proved the principle that genomes can be designed in the computer, chemically made in the laboratory and transplanted into a recipient cell to produce a new self-replicating cell controlled only by the synthetic genome. The research could lead to engineered bacteria designed for specific purposes such as producing drugs, biofuels or other useful chemicals. Full story

2. The arrival of 3D

3D television entered the marketplace this year and the technology to create your own 3D content wasn't far behind. January saw Panasonic's unveiling of the world's first integrated twin-lens Full HD 3D camcorder, followed by the first 3D consumer camcorder in July. Fujifilm also grabbed attention with the W3 – the world's first compact 3D camera capable of shooting high definition video – and British tabloid The Sun published the first 3D newspaper complete with 3D glasses on June 5.

3. First commercially available Jet Pack

We've been waiting a long time for this one. Earlier this year New Zealand based Martin Aircraft announced the first commercially-available jet pack. The 250 lbs "Jetpack" (which uses twin ducted fans) is capable of 30 minutes of flight time, can reach heights of 8,000 feet and is fueled by regular premium gasoline.

You can lay down a deposit on the expected US$86,000 price tag, but don't expect to take delivery until next year. For those of us without that kind of cash lying around, there's also a Jetpack adventure travel experience on offer for around $10K.

4. Throw away your joysticks

2010 has been the year of motion control. While the Wii has been in the wild for some time, this year both Sony and Microsoft upped the ante with widely publicized entries into the space. Sony's PlayStation Move combines controller tracking with body tracking via the PlayStation Eye camera while Microsoft's Kinect does away with the controller altogether by using a CMOS camera, infrared projector and multi-array microphone to track the movements and voices of players ... and the system is already showing potential beyond the gaming world.

5. Space tourism takes off

A string of world first announcements during 2010 from Virgin Galactic has marked a shift in the push towards space tourism. Among these we saw the first captive carry flight, the first free flight and the first manned flight of VSS Enterprise, plus the opening of the two mile long runway at Spaceport America.

There's no firm commitment on a launch date, but Virgin Galactic's first paying customers could be heading towards space as early as next year.

6. Re-thinking automobile ownership

It may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the world firsts listed here, but Daimler's announcement of a “ car2go edition” of the SMART fortwo marks a shift in the way we think about our personal transport. The car2go system allows cars to be spontaneously rented on-the-spot, or booked up to 24 hours in advance via a mobile phone or online.

Car sharing isn't new, but with increasing pressure to stop choking our urban roads the announcement of the first production vehicles dedicated to this approach is a significant one (and BMW's recently announced pilot scheme which will see its vehicles available for rent on an hourly basis over the Internet is also worth noting).

7. Molecular robot created from DNA

Nanotechnology breakthroughs have been a common feature on Gizmag's pages throughout 2010, with everything from electronics, to solar energy and ... molecular scale robotics. In May, U.S. scientists announced the creation of a spider-like nanobot just 4 nanometers wide that can be programmed to start, walk, turn left, turn right, or stop, using single-strand DNA molecules. Descendants of the molecular nanobot, or “spider,” could someday be used to treat diseases such as cancer or diabetes.

8. Solar powered spacecraft sets sail

Back in May the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the IKAROS project – a space yacht that gathers energy for propulsion from sunlight pressure (photons) by means of a square membrane measuring 20 meters (65.6 ft) diagonally.

In addition to "sailing" on solar wind, the spacecraft also uses thin film solar cells on the membrane will be used to generate its own electricity.

9. Shaking up energy

The renewable energy sector is another constant source of technological breakthroughs as efforts to get large scale green power online continue around the globe. These examples come from the other end of the spectrum – cleaner ways to power our tiny consumer electronics devices. Released earlier this year, the nPower PEGis a light-weight, titanium encased portable generator that can recharge a handheld device by harvesting kinetic energy as you move about in your daily life. Brother has also announced a battery based on the same basic principles – its Vibration Energy Cell batteries are designed to replace AA or AAA batteries in some low power devices, enabling them to be powered with a shake.

10. World's first iPad

OK, so it's not the world's first tablet computer, but in many ways, it might as well be. Apple's iPad hit the market in April and there's little doubt it has bulldozed a new track in personal computing. We loved it, it sold 300,000 units on the first day and spurred almost every device manufacturer in the world into the tablet space. We think it's fair to say that the iPad has created its own world first.

Honorable mentions and your suggestions

So what have we missed? We've chosen this list to represent some of the year's many achievements across our broad list of emerging technology categories, but there are of course many candidates left on the cutting room floor – the first remote controlled heart surgery, the first plastic anchor, the first digital golf glove and the first 3D printed car, the first fully compostable chip pack and the world's first GPS goggles with a head-up display, just for starters.

So what gets your vote as the most significant (or just plain coolest) world first for 2010? We'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments section.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted Gizmag.com in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007. All articles by Noel McKeegan

Antimatter, or God\'s particle (seen in Angels and Demons), is now real. Physicists at CERN have created antimatter. Great development after Craig Venter\'s work of creating artificial living cell. Well then 2012 seems quite on schedule. It\'s there here:


Well this just happened while perhaps you were working on your article. But this one deserves in inclusion!

Moreover, the biodisc has also been a revolutionary product. Energy molecules vibrating at an absolutely high resonance / frequency is stored in a glass disc. Applicable in all areas of life, eliminates 90% of existing / anticipated / upcoming illnesses, reduces frequency of the user\'s visits to hospitals / clinics, converts tap water into the quality of spring water (like AVON - $6 a liter) etc. It is a wonder product sir.


I suggest to add Click & Grow to this line with their computer-controlled flowerpots. http://www.gizmag.com/click-and-grow-pots/14274


The God\'s particle is not anti-matter, it\'s the Higg\'s Boson. Also anti-matter has been created before in proton accelerators, what\'s new is that the LHC ran an experiment to try and magnetically trap some anti-matter which was successful. The Biodisc is a scam. It\'s as effective has Homeopathy. Unfortunately, in telling you this, whatever placebo affect it had on you or anyone reading this might be ruined. Sorry :(

Michael Partridge

My suggestion as a Top Ten product this year is the KOLIBRI Alpha Polymer Battery of DBM energy from Germany. This advanced battery was used to power an Audi A2 for 600km at an average speed of 90km an hour between Munich and Berlin on Oct. 26/2010. This is 5 to 10 years ahead of the anticipated development curve for Li-ion batteries. Also a story which, from my search results, Gizmag seems to have totally missed! Furthermore, this battery was small enough that the entire back seat was usable AND the TRUNK was available for luggage! These batteries have been in use for some time in warehouses powering forklifts on 28 hour shifts between charges. Imagine this battery in a Nissan Leaf! If I was Carlos Ghosn I would be beating a path to their door. If this battery is all they say it is, and it can be made in sufficient quantities at a reasonable price, there will be no need for roadside charging points. Check it out here: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/10/26/German-electric-car-sets-world-record/UPI-84921288102816/


As cool as the shaker batteries are, I think they probably don\'t mark the kind of accomplishment that most of the rest of this list takes on (with either sweeping social influence, attainment of a long sought goal, or as a symbolic figurehead of a larger change in group thinking). Antimatter containment, on the other hand, is a pretty big deal and should be on the list.

Charles Bosse

Mike, antimatter was not contacined for longer than a few miliseconds. Now it can be. And it happened in 2010. And you should spend some time imagining how it can facilitate 2012, while there are lots of dots to be connected so that you conclude upon an imaginable pattern for the brain to understand the situation.

Calling the biodisc a scam is a personal offense to me. I recovered from Gall Bladder stone problem without having to remove the bladders out inspite of being recommended by a doctor of high caliber. I was relieved from gall stones in 6 days using the biodisc, and if I used Homeopathy, I would probably have to wait for 6 years. Another person using the biodisc on my recommendation is surviving cancer which was once in the last stage. So please be watchful sir. I am a user of the biodisc. It certainly requires time to understand the working of german technology, so please do.

Both deserve a listing! The writer has asked for honourable suggestions to his article, and not dishonoring comments to the comments posted by other users.


Ipad, seriously... are you kidding?


for real, there is no way an iPad needs to be on this list.

Chuck Russell

According to the laswt I read, the Placebo Effect is getting better in recent years. So much so that some drug tests are having problems showing a higher cure rate than the placebo achieves. Are we more gullible? are we more psychically attuned? Wolfman, I recommend you do as I have: don\'t trust allopathic doctors farther than you can throw them! Re the high frequency disc: read your science about dc versus ac, read some Willhelm Reich about the bioharm of vhf, and mostly I suggest traditional chinese medicine, which cured my Hep C after a failure with alopathics. (a year later I reported back to the \"doctor\" who opined that the treatment must have finally \"kicked in\"- sure lady goodbye!

Mike, thanks for the battery link!!

Facebook User

Based on the above comments, we need to see a companion site to Gizmag: Gizwoo. Gizmag could review the latest LCD and plasma tvs, Gizwoo could cover the newest crystal ball models. Gizmag would cover UAVs, Gizwoo would cover the latest flying broom technology. Gizmag would preview the latest smart phones, Gizwoo would report on the latest telepathy techniques. Gizmag would print the latest press releases from NASA and the European Space Agency while Gizwoo would publish the latest channelled information from Pleiadian space entities, etc.


Doesn\'t the advent of the first affordable consumer fuel cell technology that Gizmag touted as something \"that could kickstart mankind's transition to a hydrogen-based economy\" merit an entry on this list over and above the iPad?

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