Tech Hacks photo
Photo by Kareem Black

Every year, the Popular Science Invention Awards celebrates 10 scrappy inventions designed to solve real problems. To find the winners of the ninth annual awards, we reviewed dozens of reader submissions, combed through hundreds of news stories, and reached out to schools and hackerspaces across the country. The 10 finalists tackle a range of issues, from taking the needles out of vaccination to preventing the destruction of coral reefs–and, of course, bringing the flying car from science fiction into reality.

This year, maker extraordinaire Bre Pettis, co-founder of the revolutionary 3D-printer company MakerBot, helped us choose the Invention Award winners, and shared his advice for other would-be inventors. At his skunkworks Bold Machines, Pettis offers guidance and prototyping help for those who want to travel the thorny path from concept to marketable invention. Similarly, without the support of a corporate R&D lab, the amazing designers and tinkerers behind these 10 creations have had to raise their own money, build their own prototypes, and often form their own companies. Which makes their achievements all the more remarkable.

The Winners

Behind The Scenes With Bre Pettis

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Popular Science.


Bre Pettis

What Does It Take To Be A Successful Inventor?

Bre Pettis, co-founder of MakerBot Industries, shares his wisdom. Read more.
Flying Car

Flying Car

The Aeromobile 3.0 is an airplane that turns into a car. It’s expected to hit streets (and skies) in 2017. Read more.
Needle-Free Vaccines

Needle-Free Vaccines

ImmunoMatrix patches inject life-saving vaccines without breaking the skin. Read more.

A Braille Printer Born From LEGO

Braigo is a low-cost printer that translates text into Braille for blind people. Read more.

Personal Pollution Monitor

Wearable TZOA sensors protect babies and bicyclists from air pollution. Read more.
Nimble VR

Hands-On Virtual Reality

Nimble Sense could let gamers grab and throw objects in virtual reality. Read more.
Self-Balancing Two-Wheeled Car

A Self-Balancing Two-Wheeled Car

This two-wheeled electric car performs a special balancing act. Read more.
Artificial coral reef

Artificial Reefs For Any Seafloor

As ocean acidification destroys coral reefs, artificial reef structures could save thousands of species.
Medical Lab In A Music Box

Medical Lab In A Music Box

A hand-cranked punchcard could diagnose disease in developing countries. Read more.

A Printer For Circuit Boards

By printing with conductive ink, the V-One speeds up electronics design. Read more.
smart frying pan

A Frying Pan That Teaches You How To Cook

Step-by-step instructions negate the need for takeout. Read more.