Vine earned the title of top free download in the App Store in less than three months. Why such a splash? It’s the first app to make mobile video uploading easy. Vine’s success is more about simplicity than code; users record the quick six-second clips with one tap. Now, the app’s more than 40 million users post tons of videos—including résumés, music videos, ads, and comedy sketches—every day. Free
How many electricians does it take to install a smart lighting system? Zero—if it’s the Hue. Homeowners just need to screw in the multicolor LED bulbs, connect a wireless hub to their router, and download an app. They can control a network of up to 50 bulbs from a smartphone or other device. $200 (hub and three bulbs)
By taking advantage of an immutable force, the GravityLight may be the most reliable electric light source of all. A person simply lifts a 22-pound bag of ballast up to the base of the device; the weight falls over a period of 30 minutes, pulling a strap that spins gears and drives a motor, which continuously powers an LED. Peripheral LEDs can be attached to focus light on certain spots. DeciWatt is field-testing units to replace kerosene lamps in developing countries and plans to sell them there for $10 next year.
Much to the lament of most hikers, beer is too heavy to schlep into the backcountry. Pat’s beer concentrate solves this problem adeptly. Instead of evaporating a finished beer’s water, the company quadruple brews its concentrate, preserving the hops and other aromatics that impart flavor. When paired with seltzer (the company sells a $30 CO2 bottle that carbonates any potable water), a 1.7-ounce packet makes a pint of refreshing pale ale. $9.95 for four packets
In 2012, ammonium nitrate fertilizer was used in about 65 percent of the 16,300 IEDs found in Afghanistan. Engineer Kevin Fleming developed a fertilizer that uses iron sulfite in the mixture to suppress detonation. Sandia chose to keep the formula open-source so that it could more quickly be adopted in developing countries.
When the Google Glass concept debuted in June 2012, it became one of the most anticipated gadget launches ever—rivaling the first iPhone. For all intents and purposes, Project Glass, as it was then called, promised Terminator vision, a hovering overlay of information as crisp as a 25-inch HDTV. Impossible as it sounds, the product, which came out as a developer version in April, goes beyond that pledge: It’s like wearing a piece of the future.