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The 22 best health care inventions of 2021, according to TIME


Last month, TIME released its "Best Inventions of 2021" list. Here are the 22 inventions on the list that have implications for health care.

To determine 2021's Best Inventions, TIME received nominations through an online application process along with nominations from TIME's editors and correspondents around the world. TIME evaluated nominees on several key factors, including originality, creativity, efficacy, ambition, and impact.

TIME's top health care-related inventions for 2021:

For the final list, TIME arranged the 100 Best Inventions of 2021 into several categories, including accessibility, fitness, home health, medical care, wellness, and more. Here are the 22 inventions that made the list that could have implications for health care, presented in alphabetical order:

  1. Abbott NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic, an app that enables patients and physicians to communicate via video and remotely adjust Abbott's implanted neuro-modulation devices.

  2. Amira and the StoryCraft, an app that uses speech-recognition software to help students with reading disorders. According to TIME, the app listens to students as they read out loud, pausing when students stumble or mispronounce a word to provide the correct pronunciation.

  3. BioTrac Band, a tracking device worn on first responders' arms that monitors for signs of heat stress by measuring the user's heart rate, core body temperature, and exertion. The device will alert commanders and coworkers if a user hits unsafe levels.

  4. Caption AI, a machine-learning software that will work with handheld ultrasound devices to guide techs through minor adjustments needed to capture the best view of a patient's heart—allowing doctors to better examine them for potential problems.

  5. Clove Sneaker, a shoe created specifically for providers who care for patients—with extra support for added comfort and stability, as well as materials made of Japanese Clarino artificial leather to make the shoes easy to clean and less susceptible to damage from chemicals and bodily fluids.

  6. Covid-19 Home Testing Kits, rapid Covid-19 tests that can be done at home have simplified the testing process by giving people a quick yes or no answer regarding infection. While rapid tests can't replace PCR tests, according to TIME, they have about 90% accuracy in picking up SARS-CoV-2 proteins.

  7. Covid-19 vaccines, the development of these vaccines has led to reduced rates of severe Covid-19 as well as fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

  8. EcoQube, a device that monitors the radon levels in a home through a companion app.

  9. Emme Smart Birth Control System, a Bluetooth-enabled smart case for birth control pills that syncs with an app to help users consistently take their birth control pills.

  10. GO FlyEase, a hands-free shoe designed by Nike that allows people with a wide range of disabilities to easily slip their shoes on and off.

  11. Illusory Material, a device that prints materials underneath a layer of small digital lenses so that the material's appearance seems to change based on the angle by which it is viewed—technology that its creators believe can eventually be used to create medical braces, among other items.

  12. Mila, an air purifier with unique features—such as a radar detection system that turns down the device's noise when people are near—that was designed in a "sleek midcentury-modern" style.

  13. Mosquirix, the first-ever malaria vaccine, which was recommended for approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) in October.

  14. OrCam Read, a reading device that uses computer vison and artificial intelligence (AI) to read any piece of text out loud.

  15. Permobil Explorer Mini, an FDA-approved device that was built to help give mobility to children between one and three who are not yet walking. The chair—only available with a prescription—can be controlled via a joystick.

  16. Purrble, an interactive plush toy designed to help children learn how to regulate their emotions.

  17. Revolve Air, a hexagonally structured wheelchair with puncture-proof wheels that fold up—which allows the chair to take up 60% less space than a standard wheelchair—making it more travel friendly.

  18. Riley, an AI chatbot designed to help train mental health counselors.

  19. Robin the Robot, an AI-based companion that is designed to help ease anxiety and loneliness among children in hospitals and clinics.

  20. Stentrode, a system from Synchron that digitizes and translates certain brain signals into computer commands, enabling people with paralysis to operate appropriately equipped computers.

  21. Tonal, a digital weight system that uses electromagnetic resistance instead of metal plates, enabling users to switch between different weight resistance levels with just a touch of their screen.

  22. Zero2 Trench, a position-specific helmet by VICIS—the first ever football helmet of its kind approved for professional in-game use—with added protection in the areas lineman are most likely to get hit. (TIME list, accessed 11/23; TIME methodology, accessed 11/23)

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