TIME last week released its list of the 100 Best Inventions of 2019 based on factors including creativity, effectiveness, influence, and originality—and 25 of those inventions have implications for health care.
How TIME made the list
To create the list, TIME collected nominations from its editors and correspondents and through an online application process. Each nomination was evaluated based on factors such as ambition, creativity, effectiveness, influence, and originality.
The 25 best health care inventions of 2019
For the final list, TIME arranged the 100 Best Innovations of 2019 into several categories. Here are the 25 inventions that made the list that could have implications for health care, presented in alphabetical order:
- Airthings Wave Plus: According to TIME, Airthings Wave Plus is the first radon and indoor air quality detector supported by an app. The device can detect "elevated levels of radon, the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers in the United States," TIME writes.
- BrainRobotics AI Prosthetic Hand: BrainRobitics' prosthetic hand is the first prosthetic hand powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that allows its user to make an unlimited number of gestures and grips, according to TIME. The hand uses an algorithm that allows each hand to learn from each other and become more lifelike. It also includes sensors that process muscle signals from the user's arm to allow for more accurate control.
- Butterfly iQ: This new ultrasound device is the size of a small chip, allowing providers to plug a portable probe into their phone and look at a patient's heart, lung, or growing fetus, TIME writes.
- CATALOG DNA Data Writer: CATALOG's DNA Data Writer uses human DNA as inspiration for storing information, TIME writes. The device prints data on blank, synthetic DNA strands and was recently able to print and store 16 gigabytes of the English version of Wikipedia in about 12 hours.
- Comcast Xfinity X1 Eye Control: Comcast's web-based remote control uses eye-gaze software and assistive technology to enable individuals with physical disabilities to use their eyes to complete tasks such as browsing the internet or changing the TV channel. The remote can be used with computers, tablets, and TVs.
- Diligent Robotics Moxi: Diligent Robotics' new Moxi robot is made for the hospital, according to TIME. Moxi has an arm, a gripper, and a mobile base, allowing it to grab objects and move around. It's also able to do end-to-end jobs without being asked.
- Elvie Breast Pump: Elvie's breast pump has no tubes or wires and contains a motor that's almost entirely silent. The pump is also lighter, slimmer, and quieter than other competing breast pumps.
- GE Senographe Pristina with Dueta: GE Healthcare's mammogram machine allows patients to control the compression on their breasts with a wireless remote. According to company research, most women actually apply more pressure than a technician would, which improves the quality of the image.
- Inspiren iN: Inspiren's iN device mounts on the wall of a patient's room and uses AI alongside a series of sensors to monitor a patient's safety and alert staff if the patient needs help. The device can also monitor staff interactions with patients.
- Omron HeartGuide: The HeartGuide is a blood pressure monitor designed to be worn on the wrist and looks like a watch. According to Jeff Ray, executive director of business at Omron Healthcare, making a blood pressure monitor into a watch makes monitoring cardiovascular health easy for patients.
- OrCam MyEye 2: The MyEye 2 is an AI device that can attach to the frame of any pair of glasses and identify faces, currency, or read text and information from bar codes out loud, TIME writes. The device can also be used for people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia.
- Osso VR: The Osso VR software allows doctors to have a virtual operating room to learn and train on new procedures. It's also being used in underdeveloped countries so providers can learn from leading experts in the world without having to leave the hospital.
- PathSpot: PathSpot aims to fight the spread of food-borne illness by using a light-based detection algorithm to scan people's hands for contamination. The device is already being used in some restaurants like Chopt and Pokeworks to ensure employees' hands are free of pathogens like E. coli.
- Pelebox: The Pelebox smart locker allows registered patients to pick up prescriptions from kiosks with a onetime text message code. So far, the lockers have delivered more than 10,000 prescriptions with an average wait time of under a minute.
- Planned Parenthood Roo: Planned Parenthood invented Roo, a sexual health chatbot, to help answer potentially awkward questions about topics like sex, menstruation, and identity. Since it launched in January, the chatbot has answered 3.5 million questions with medically accurate responses.
- Qlarity Imaging QuantX: QuantX is an AI-enabled software that can analyze an MRI and help radiologists by either confirming or challenging the radiologist's diagnosis, TIME writes. A clinical trial in 2017 found the QuantX led to a 39% reduction in missed cancers and a 20% improvement in overall accuracy.
- Saathi Pads: Saathi invented these new sanitary napkins to increase access to the products for women in certain parts of India in an environmentally friendly manner. The pads are made from banana fibers purchased from local farmers and are 100% biodegradable.
- Sanku Dosifier: The Sanku Dosifier allows millers to dose their flour with the exact ratio of nutrients needed for a healthy diet, TIME writes. So far, Sanku has installed its Dosifier in 300 flour mills in East Africa and intends to reach 15,000 more by 2025.
- Starkey Livio AI: The Livio AI is a hearing aid embedded with sensors and AI that can stream music, verbally answer questions similar to a smart assistant, translate conversations into another language, detect falls and alert caretakers, measure physical activity, and track how often a user talks to people throughout the day. Achin Bhowmik, Starkey's chief technology officer, said he wears one even though he doesn't have hearing loss. "It's better than normal hearing," he said.
- Stevie: Stevie, an AI-empowered socially assistive robot for care homes designed by Akara Robotics, can play games, make deliveries, and facilitate video chats for elderly individuals. Initial trials found that residents of a retirement community in Washington, D.C. enjoyed Stevie when it was used to tell stories and be social.
- Surgical Safety Technologies Operating Room Black Box: The OR Black Box operates similar to a black box on an airplane, recording audio, video, patient vital signs, and feedback from electronic surgical instruments during surgery. Hospitals then have the ability to analyze the data from the black box and use it as a teaching tool.
- Theranica Nerivio: Nerivio is worn on the upper arm and electronically stimulates the body's neural pathway for reducing pain signals. When a patient feels a migraine coming on, the individual can place the device on their arm to help relieve the pain.
- Tivic Health ClearUP Sinus Pain Relief: ClearUP was designed to relieve sinus pain via a microcurrent of electricity. To use the device, patients place the tip on their skin and move it around their eye for about five minutes a day. According to TIME, this helps calm the nerves connected to the sinuses that can become irritated by allergies and infections.
- TytoHome: The TytoHome is a handheld device that can measure people's vitals, examine their lungs, ears, skin, and throats with special adapters, and videoconference with a doctor to monitor the patient's metrics in real-time.
- WeWALK: WeWALK is a smart cane that can detect objects above chest level and can help visually impaired and blind people navigate with the help of apps like Google Maps (TIME 100 Best Inventions of 2019 list; TIME, 11/21).