TIME

The 100 Best Inventions of 2019

To read more about TIME’s Best Inventions, go to time.com/bestinventions2019

SOCIAL GOOD

WATER, OUT OF THIN AIR

Watergen GENNY

Whether you’re in a developing country or on the scene of a natural disaster, water is usually the No. 1 need in times of crisis. Watergen, an Israeli company, thinks GENNY could be the answer. The machine, which looks like an office water cooler, pulls moisture from ambient air to create drinkable water through a patented filtration process, much like a fancier dehumidifier. One GENNY unit can produce up to 7 gal. of water a day, and all it needs is electricity or solar power—no plumbing required. The multistage purification process can make clean water even in areas with high air pollution, and larger units are already being used in disaster-relief efforts. But GENNY isn’t only for those in need. For an estimated $1,500 (units will be priced by distributors), consumers can cut down on buying bottled water and reduce their water use at home.

—Isaac Saul

TRANSPORTATION

HACKING THE E-BIKE

GeoOrbital

Electric bicycles are great for quickly zipping around town without breaking a sweat. But they can also be expensive—some models cost several thousand dollars. With GeoOrbital’s electric bicycle wheel, cyclists can upgrade their pedal-powered bicycle into an e-bike in minutes for a fraction of the cost: $1,495. Riders control the electric motor, and their speed, with a throttle connected to their handlebars. A three-hour battery charge gives riders a range of up to 20 miles, depending on the model, the bicycle and how much pedaling the rider does. Founder and CEO Michael Burtov says the design, inspired by the sci-fi Light Cycles in the movie Tron, takes advantage of what he considers formerly wasted space. “Regular wheels have a lot of empty, wasted space in them, and now they don’t,” he says. GeoOrbital has sold about 3,000 wheels so far and raised $2.8 million on crowdfunding sites.

—Alex Fitzpatrick

STYLE

21ST CENTURY FASHION

Bee & Kin tech handbags

Designer Tracey Hummel decided that, no matter how stylish, purses should do more than just hold your stuff. “I want to create beautiful bags that do a little bit of work for you,” Hummel says. Her luxury handbag line of sleek, smart purses (which start at $495) comes equipped with a set of interior LED lights that discreetly illuminate their interiors, and a Bluetooth-enabled button that can be programmed via an app to perform tasks like calling an Uber; sharing your location with a friend; or starting a playlist with a simple click, double click or hold. Future editions might include even more life-smoothing features. “Anything that feels like an added convenience to have in your bag, that’s what we’re looking to integrate,” says Hummel.

—Megan McCluskey

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

REDUCING FALSE DIAGNOSES

Qlarity Imaging QuantX

Diagnosing breast cancer can be a worrisomely old-school process. For all of the 21st century tech that can image tumors, the ultimate diagnosis still rests with the radiologist’s eyes and judgment. With 30 million breast-cancer screenings in the U.S. each year, that can lead to a lot of false negatives and positives. QuantX backstops radiologists with AI-enabled software that analyzes MRIs to confirm or challenge their diagnosis. The system was approved by the FDA in 2017 when a clinical study showed a 39% reduction in missed cancers and a 20% improvement in overall accuracy. QuantX is currently being tried out at the University of Chicago and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, with a bigger rollout planned in the coming months.

—Jeffrey Kluger

BEAUTY

MAKEUP THAT PROTECTS

Supergoop! Shimmershade eye shadow

The skin around the eyes is the thinnest on your face, which is why it’s more susceptible to visible aging and skin cancer—studies have shown that up to 10% of skin cancers are found around the eyelids. But despite the heightened risks, Supergoop! founder Holly Thaggard discovered that many people avoid putting on sunscreen near their eyes for fear of irritation. This led her and her team to create Shimmershade, the first and only eye shadow to be clinically tested to provide broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection. “I thought, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it in a fun and playful way and re-create an eye shadow with UVA and UVB protection,” she says. The product has fielded some skepticism that users will apply an eye shadow thick enough to make the sun protection effective, and dermatologists still recommend using sunscreen wherever skin is exposed. But the product takes the vital step of encouraging users to think more holistically about sun protection. And the fact that the creamy, mineral-based formula won’t crease and lasts for hours doesn’t hurt either.

Cady Lang

GAMING

GAMING FOR POSTERITY

Analogue Mega Sg

Analogue’s Mega Sg is a new console for old games. Aimed at collectors and, critically, historians, the system plays Sega’s early catalog—more than 2,000 games from three different systems—and is compatible with modern televisions. “[Video-game history is] worth exploring, celebrating and experiencing in the same light as film and music,” says Analogue founder Christopher Taber.

Matthew Gault

SOCIAL GOOD

PORTABLE POWER

We Care Solar Suitcase

Laura Stachel, a U.S. obstetrician-gynecologist, was observing a complicated baby delivery in Nigeria when the power went out. Electricity cuts are common in the country, which also has one of the world’s highest maternal-mortality rates. So Stachel asked her husband, a solar-power expert, to build an easy-to-use, suitcase-size solution that could run lights for a delivery room along with a fetal heart monitor for her next trip. When she returned to the Nigerian hospital with the first Solar Suitcase, the midwives begged to keep it. Now, Stachel’s NGO has shipped nearly 4,000 units to 27 developing countries, putting an end to deliveries in darkness.

—Aryn Baker

WELLNESS

CLOSING THE PLEASURE GAP

Osé by Lora DiCarlo

A third of women infrequently, if ever, orgasm during sex. It’s a major inequity, one that Osé founder Lora Haddock was trying to solve when she came up against another: sexism in tech. Osé, a first-of-its-kind hands-free vibrator that uses microrobotics and biomimicry, raised over $3.2 million and was initially honored at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show—until the award was rescinded for not being in line with the show’s “image.” After public outcry, Osé got its prize back and Haddock has become a leader for equality in tech.

—Emily Price

STYLE

A PERFECT FIT

denim unspun

Finding great-fitting jeans can seem like an impossible task. But what if there were a way to guarantee you’d end up with the perfect pair without ever trying them on? That’s the goal of denim unspun, an apparel startup that uses a 3-D body scanner to generate virtual customer avatars made up of 100,000 data points to produce custom-fit jeans. After being scanned, customers select the fabric, thread color and style they want. The best part: no sizes. “Customers are happy because they don’t have to think about their measurements,” denim unspun co-founder Beth Esponnette says. “It’s not about size anymore, it’s just you.” The process, which is now offered at stores in San Francisco and Hong Kong, also works to eliminate unsold inventory and fabric waste for a sustainable fashion model that doesn’t skimp on quality or style. A pair of the personalized jeans starts at $200.

Megan McCluskey

CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

BREATHING EASIER

Airthings Wave Plus

Most people have levels along with total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) and gases emitted from chemicals in the home, giving you a comprehensive view of your home’s air quality and any potential dangers it may present.

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