Emerging technologies get more recognition on Time's 2021 list of 100 'best inventions'

Innovations made the world 'better, smarter and a bit more fun', with breakthrough Covid-19 vaccines also making the cut

Apple's M1 processor, used in its newest MacBooks and iPads, received special mention on Time's list. Photo: Bloomberg
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Innovations in the vast spectrum of emerging technologies, as well as in sustainability and transportation, were among this year's 100 "best inventions", Time magazine has said.

The annual list highlights "inventions that are making the world better, smarter and a bit more fun". It takes into account originality, creativity, efficacy, ambition and impact.

"The result is a list of 100 ground-breaking inventions that are changing how we live, work, play and think about what’s possible", according to the US publication.

In augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), three entries made their mark.

Most notable was the Qualcomm XR2 processor, the first mobile AR/VR chip with 5G broadband connectivity, specifically configured for the metaverse being championed by Mark Zuckerberg, of Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook.

The other entries were Lenovo's ThinkReality A3 smart glasses, which allow users to view up to five virtual screens at the same time and Google Live Maps View.

The Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses allows a user to view up to five virtual screens at a time. Photo: Lenovo

Products honoured in the consumer electronics sector – which Fortune Business Insights expects to grow from to $989.37 billion in 2027, from $689.45bn in 2020 – included the Framework Laptop DIY Edition, which users can customise to their specifications, and the JLabs JBuds Frames, clip-on wireless speakers that turn any pair of glasses into an audio device.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics, meanwhile, was cited for the Galaxy Z Flip3, the latest in its foldable device line-up. Time said in the past few years, manufacturers trying to merge the functionality of smartphones with the portability of a 2000s-era flip phone had middling results at best, but Samsung "finally seems to have nailed it" with the Flip3.U

Time said Samsung 'seems to have finally nailed it' with the Galaxy Z Flip3 foldable smartphone. Photo: Reuters

Under sustainability – a key topic when you consider all the talks on global effort on climate change and the UN's sustainable development goals – was SupPlant, a precision agriculture app that helps farmers correctly manage their resources, and the EcoFlow Delta Pro, the world's first portable home battery for smart energy management, using iron phosphate technology instead of lithium-ion.

There's also Boox, a shipping box that is designed to be shipped, returned, then reused over and over again, eliminating the need for disposal and contribution to waste.

The Nuro R2 was the first to be granted approval for a self-driving vehicle exemption by US federal authorities. Photo: Nuro

Transportation and mobility had five entries, including the autonomous commerce vehicle Nuro R2, the first to be granted approval for a self-driving vehicle exemption by US federal authorities, and the Pod from Sweden's Einride, a zero-emissions and customisable delivery vehicle equipped with shipping containers.

Israel's ElectReon also made it to the list with its shared energy platform that provides wireless charging for electric vehicles on the go, without the need to stop. The service comes as a boon for the growing EV market, which had 10 million vehicles on the roads last year, figures compiled by the International Energy Agency show.

And no list this year would be complete without firsts in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Time honoured the efforts of pharmaceutical companies by including all vaccines against the disease on the list.

Time included Covid vaccines on its 2021 Best Inventions list. Photo: AP

The US-based pharmaceuticals company Abbott's Covid-19 home testing kit, BinaxNOW, also received the nod. It was granted US approval for emergency use in December last year.

The rest of the list comprised products and services from various other categories, including beauty, connectivity, design, education, entertainment, finance, fitness, food and drink, productivity, social good, travel and wellness, among others.

Aside from the top 100, there were 50 other innovations that received special mention.

Apple's M1 chip, which is used in its latest line-up of MacBooks and iPad Pros, was in this special mentions category.

Earlier this month, Time named Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk as its Person of the Year for 2021.

Updated: December 28, 2021, 8:55 AM