The 2015 Invention Awards

Our ninth annual celebration of independent inventors

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.

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Bre Pettis
What Does It Take To Be A Successful Inventor?
Bre Pettis, co-founder of MakerBot Industries, shares his wisdom. Read more.Photograph By Kareem Black
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.Courtesy AeroMobil
Needle-Free Vaccines
Needle-Free Vaccines
ImmunoMatrix patches inject life-saving vaccines without breaking the skin. Read more.Photo By Jill Shomer
Braigo
A Braille Printer Born From LEGO
Braigo is a low-cost printer that translates text into Braille for blind people. Read more.Photo by Neil Banerjee
TZOA
Personal Pollution Monitor
Wearable TZOA sensors protect babies and bicyclists from air pollution. Read more.Courtesy TZOA
Nimble VR
Hands-On Virtual Reality
Nimble Sense could let gamers grab and throw objects in virtual reality. Read more.Courtesy Nimble VR
Self-Balancing Two-Wheeled Car
A Self-Balancing Two-Wheeled Car
This two-wheeled electric car performs a special balancing act. Read more.Lit Motors
Artificial coral reef
Artificial Reefs For Any Seafloor
As ocean acidification destroys coral reefs, artificial reef structures could save thousands of species.Photo by Alex Goad
Medical Lab In A Music Box
Medical Lab In A Music Box
A hand-cranked punchcard could diagnose disease in developing countries. Read more.Photo by George Korir
Voltera
A Printer For Circuit Boards
By printing with conductive ink, the V-One speeds up electronics design. Read more.Courtesy Voltera
smart frying pan
A Frying Pan That Teaches You How To Cook
Step-by-step instructions negate the need for takeout. Read more.Photo by Brian Klutch