The 2007 PopSci Invention Awards

From wall-scaling belts to stronger, quieter Velcro, meet 10 of our favorite homebuilt inventions and the garage geniuses behind them

How do you prevent insurgents from shooting down choppers? How do you keep a cast from itching? How do you reinvent the brick? You sketch. And then you work: nights, weekends-for years, if you have to. You blow all your money, then beg for more. You build prototypes, and when they fail, you build more. Why? Because inventing is about solving problems, and not stopping until your solution becomes real.

Here, we present the 10 winners of the 2007 PopSci Invention Awards. Each is a stunning example of the spirity of ingenuity. You’ll also find tips from the world’s most successful inventors on how to get your own ideas out there.

A Chopper Shield Firing massive Kevlar and steel nets at inbound rocket-propelled grenades could save helicopters in combat
The New Velcro A stronger, better grip without the incessant ripping sound. Has a long-standing dream finally been realized?
A Big Ball of Connectivity An antenna that blows up like a balloon brings satellite communications anywhere, anytime
A New Breed of Mouse Control your computer in three dimensions by giving your mouse the finger
The Flying Belt Rappel up a wall at an astonishing 10 feet per second with the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender
Six Strokes of Genius After a lifetime of making racecars go faster, Bruce Crower’s new engine uses steam to squeeze more mileage from gas
A Shocking New Weapon A muscle-numbing magic wand protects cops and citizens, Jedi-style
A Levitating Arrow Rest A few well-placed magnets eliminates the thwack of an arrow leaving the bow, making archers stealthier and more accurate
The Glove That Saves Lives A sensor-packed CPR assistant delivers effective resuscitation every time
A Green Brick A new building block made from the pressurized byproducts of coal-power plants saves energy and cuts down on pollutants
Tips From the Pros Tips to get your own invention ideas off the ground from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Segway’s Dean Kamen, futurist Ray Kurzweil and more