Popular Science put out a fantastic list this week of the 100 Greatest Innovations of 2018.
Broken down into categories ranging from household gadgets to achievements in aerospace and advanced weaponry, these innovations and inventions run the gamut from the futuristic to the everyday.
Here are a few of the inventions that piqued my interest and the companies that brought them into existence.
Onyx Exoskeleton by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is a major aerospace and defense leader, and is the company behind the F-35. But this year, the company put out one invention that feels straight out of a comic book.
A tired soldier hauling 100-plus pounds of gear is at risk of both attack and injury. But with Lockheed’s Onyx Exoskeleton strapped to their hip, their endurance is effectively doubled.
In fact, a user wearing the Onyx during trials for it was able to do 72 squats with a 185-pound load – without the Onyx, they were only able to complete 26. Not only that, but onboard processors analyze a wearer’s stride and activate motors at their knees to assist when needed.
High Energy Laser Weapon System by Raytheon (NYSE: RTN)
If the last invention felt straight out of a comic book, this one feels straight out of a sci-fi movie.
When hooked onto an ATV, Raytheon’s (NYSE: RTN) High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS MRZR) works like this: soldiers that spot an enemy’s spy or bombing drone, can use the HELWS MRZR laser-shooting dune buggy to shoot it out of the sky – instantly frying it.
One single battery charge can power as many as 30 blasts, though if it’s plugged in, it can shoot forever. Enemy drones beware.
CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN) by Airbus & IBM (NYSE: IBM)
CIMON, which was built by Airbus and IBM (NYSE: IBM), is powered by IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence platform and is equipped to help astronauts run experiments, make repairs to the ISS, and even talk each other through basic medical procedures.
When CIMON makes it to the ISS in summer 2019, it will be a free-floating personal assistant that will be able to fly around the station on command.
Post-It Extreme Notes by 3M (NYSE: MMM)
This invention is a little closer to earth. It’s the humble post-it.
Yes, post-its. But with a fascinating improvement.
3M (NYSE: MMM) came up with a new adhesive made of tiny spheres for these bad boys that gives them the flexibility to adhere to rough surfaces like plywood and concrete. The new adhesive is aided by flexible paper that’s coated with polymer layers that make these post-its more durable, smudge-resistant, and even water-proof.
Clear ID by Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA)
This invention isn’t as recognizable as a post-it, but you’ll probably be using it multiple times a day everyday when you buy your next smartphone.
The Clear ID by Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA) solves a big issue with smartphones as they begin to lose the bezels around their displays. As bezels disappear, there’s no where on the face of the phone for a fingerprint reader unless it’s inside the screen itself.
But the Clear ID scanner—which has already debuted overseas in the Vivo X21—sits under a phone’s OLED screen and scans a finger print within 7 milliseconds. That’s lightning speed compared to a facial reader, which needs in excess of 100 milliseconds to complete a scan.
That means we’ll soon have phones with totally smooth surfaces and edge-to-edge displays that we can open almost instantly with just a touch.