1. The 100 greatest innovations of 2020
Popular Science puts out an annual Best of What’s New awards, and we’ve reached the 33rd edition in 2020.
It’s an amazing list of things, a lot you can actually buy, too – PopSci says months of work goes into the list and it shows! There’s a breadth of gadgets, devices, and ideas here.
- Exposure Notifications was chosen as the Innovation of the Year, the system designed by Apple and Google to track viruses but not track you.
- A few ‘Grand Award Winners’ you’ll know include the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, with Sony’s clever tremors and haptic feedback proving a winner, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, although no awards to Nvidia for making so few available to the clamoring public.
- Gadget awards also included Android 11 Voice Access for its much better voice command systems (first tested in 2016), Samsung’s adaptive frequency display for saving on battery, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold (in the gif above), One R by Insta360, MagSafe by Apple for wireless charging, and the iPad Magic Keyboard. ScanWatch by Withings also won for the smartwatch that detects sleep apnea.
- Apple also got a security nod for clipboard notification in iOS 14 that ended up dramatically changing how apps like LinkedIn and Reddit operated with your copy-paste text.
- Other security winners: Hey by Basecamp for spam (also a winner in my books for being a catalyst for Apple’s App Store changes), and Signal’s Blur tool for privacy for activists.
- Some listed good ideas went nowhere, like Turnstyle by Quibi. Rip Quibi.
- Other winners in different categories: a reimagined airbag from Acura, Custom Jeans by unspun that lets you do a quick smartphone scan to get tailor-fit jeans, synthetic insulation by PrimaLoft that takes 48 percent less carbon dioxide to make
- There’s loads of stuff on better telehealth, a custom makeup printer, custom curl cream for unique hair, and more — it’s a great list!
2. More Snapdragon 888 news: Deep dive into the specs, an interview with Qualcomm by my colleague David Imel explaining how the Snapdragon 888 is changing the camera game, and all the confirmed Snapdragon 888 phones and brands so far — Xiaomi looks first, and could announce something by December (Android Authority).
3. Here’s our first look at the upcoming rounded Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro (Android Authority).
4. Samsung’s Galaxy F big battery phone series could be getting a new member in a reported Galaxy F62 (Android Authority).
5. Should Samsung keep the Galaxy Note? Here are the pros and cons of something looking more likely that it won’t happen in 2021 (Android Authority).
6. Discovery Plus announced: A new streaming service packed 55,000 episodes and includes Discovery, of course, plus HGTV, The Food Network, TLC, OWN, Animal Planet, and more — starting at $4.99 p/m, ad-supported (Android Authority).
7. MKBHD’s blind smartphone camera test was announced with an unexpected winner that you can’t really buy in the US, and also revealed how much Twitter and Instagram change photos on their platforms (YouTube).
8. Apple will be forced to sell iPhones with included power adapter in Brazil (9to5Mac).
9. Google illegally spied on workers before firing them, US labor board alleges (The Verge).
10. Amazon seems on track to buy podcast network Wondery (Engadget).
11. A broken piece of Internet Backbone might finally get fixed (Wired).
12. South Africa’s lottery probed as 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 drawn — and 20 people won (BBC).
13. A chain just cut through a capsized cargo ship filled with cars, and the photos of the process and the process itself is pretty damn cool. Think 38-ton lugs welded on, and ropes made to lift made of “ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene slings.” (Jalopnik).
14. It’s happening: The SpaceX Starship may fly to 15km as early as Friday (Ars Technica).
15. China’s Chang’e 5 moon mission snaps incredible images of lunar surface: a 15,000×7,947 pixel zoomable image! (Ars Technica).
16. “How the heck does a laser/infrared thermometer actually work?” (r/askscience). …and a repost here because the link was missing: “Why do joints make a “cracking” noise for certain activities such as walking up stairs, but have no actual pain associated with them?” (r/explainlikeimfive) (Sorry!).
And one more thing…. Throwback Thursday!
The first Segway was announced today back in 2001, an exciting new product that evolved personal mobility but probably not with the same force as initially perceived, like the later hoverboard, and more useful personal electric scooters that now can be seen in every major city.
- Segway only sold 140,000 of the original model, which was finally ended in 2020 by Chinese owner Ninebot, which bought Segway in 2015 and produced a bunch of Segway-Ninebot similar devices, including the one above.
But the Segway had ambitions. There’s a wonderful book about it called ‘Code Name Ginger’ by Steve Kemper, also known as ‘Reinventing the Wheel: a Story of Genius, Innovation, and Grand Ambition’, by Steve Kemper.
An extract published here shows a meeting between some of Segway’s team including inventor Dean Kamen, and two of the brightest minds you might’ve heard of: Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos.
- Various luminaries including Steve Jobs talked about the Segway as being more important than the Internet, but the book extract reveals where Jobs thought it fell down.
- Jobs was quoted as saying that it was “as big a deal as the PC,” but the book extract indicated that Jobs thought it “sucked,” both in the design (“Its shape is not innovative, it’s not elegant, it doesn’t feel anthropomorphic,” said Jobs, ticking off three of his design mantras.”
- And the $5,000 price tag back in upon its launch in 2001, was crazy high. Jobs again: “You’re sure your market is upscale consumers for transportation?”
- Ouch. Segway didn’t want to sell “a toy or a fad,” was its defense.
- Segway ended up selling an expensive toy, and a fad. It also tragically killed its one-time owner Jimi Heselden, who bought the US company in 2010, and fell off a cliff after trying to keep out of someone’s way in the UK (The Guardian).
- More humorously, Usain Bolt was famously knocked over by one in 2015 (YouTube), after a cameraman ran into a barrier and lost control. It’s only because Bolt was completely fine though!
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