Looking Back, Moving Forward

The end of a year, almost the end of a decade.  Eliza and I have been somewhat M.I.A. the past month, due to burgeoning to-do lists and holiday mayhem,  but boy have we got grand plans for 2010!  We are looking to give our little blog a nice facelift sometime in the first part of the year, add more personalized content (including videos and interviews!), and continue to improve Innovate as the year progresses.  Thanks for being a part of our beginning, our first (half) year!

Here’s a final post for the magnificent, difficult, eventful, wondrous, and bittersweet year of 2009……… And a hopeful nod to the innovations of tomorrow.


Cherry-picking from Time Magazine’s 50 Best Inventions of 2009, here are 5 supremely cool items from their list:

5. Vertical Farming.  “Real estate — the one thing we’re not making any more of. That might be good news for landlords but not for the world’s farmers, who have finite cropland to feed a growing global population. The answer: build up by farming vertically. Valcent, a company based in El Paso, Texas, is pioneering a hydroponic-farming system that grows plants in rotating rows, one on top of another. The rotation gives the plants the precise amount of light and nutrients they need, while the vertical stacking enables the use of far less water than conventional farming. But best of all, by growing upward instead of outward, vertical farming can expand food supplies without using more land.”

4. The Electric Eye.  “MIT researchers are developing a microchip that could help blind people regain partial eyesight. Though it won’t completely restore normal vision, it will enable a blind person to recognize faces and navigate a room without assistance. The chip, which is encased in titanium to prevent water damage, will be implanted onto a patient’s eyeball. The patient will then wear a pair of eyeglasses equipped with a tiny camera that transmits images directly to the chip, which in turn sends them to the brain. With any luck, human trials are only a few years away.”

3.  The Smart Thermostat.  “A couple of years ago, Seth Frader-Thompson was driving a Prius. Priuses have little screens on the dashboard that tell you what gas mileage you’re getting, in real time, as you drive. It crossed Frader-Thompson’s mind that houses should have something similar. So he built the EnergyHub Dashboard, a little device, with a screen, that can talk wirelessly to your furnace and your various appliances and let you know exactly how much electricity (or gas) each one is using and how much it’s costing you. It can also turn appliances on and off and raise or lower the temperature in your house so you can rein in the real power hogs. EnergyHub is currently partnering with utilities for trials and will be available direct to consumers in early 2010.”

2.  The School of One.  “This past summer, in a sixth-grade math class, New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein piloted a small program in which individualized, technology-based learning takes the place of the old “let’s all proceed together” approach. Each day, students in the School of One are given a unique lesson plan — a “daily playlist” — tailored to their learning style and rate of progress that includes a mix of virtual tutoring, in-class instruction and educational video games. It’s learning for the Xbox generation.”

1.  The Planetary Skin.  “What happens to Earth when a forest is razed or energy use soars? We don’t know because environmental data are collected by isolated sources, making it impossible to see the whole picture. With the theory that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, NASA and Cisco have teamed up to develop Planetary Skin, a global “nervous system” that will integrate land-, sea-, air- and space-based sensors, helping the public and private sectors make decisions to prevent and adapt to climate change. The pilot project — a prototype is due by 2010 — will track how much carbon is held by rain forests and where.”

*All images above, and text descriptions, via Time online.

And for those who want a little laugh, check out BuzzFeed’s list of 50 Best Protest Signs of 2009.  One of my faves…



4 Responses

  1. Yes. Here’s to carrying less signs in 2010.

  2. Vertical Farming works! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6ASKVl4XRQ

  3. Hey awesome blog, just want to ask you what spam software you have on your site for comments since I am getting so many spammers on my website.

  4. These are all cool ideas, but I am NOT being a guinea pig for the eyeball thing. It looks really uncomfortable. The vertical farming is cool too.

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