Popular Mechanics magazine today unveiled its sixth annual Breakthrough Awards winners, honoring 10 products that its editors identified as solving existing problems in all new ways.
The products range from two different approaches to electric cars to the smallest ever camera with interchangeable lenses to a thermostat that can provide a wealth of data even as it responds automatically to changing conditions. The magazine will name the individuals it chose for the Breakthrough Leadership award and Breakthrough Innovators awards later this week.
For six years, a group of the magazine's editors have sifted through countless products, looking for the selections for the year's best inventions. According to science editor Jennifer Bogo, the team tasked with choosing the 2010 awards--which comprised editors from Popular Mechanics' automotive, home, technology, science and online departments--searched for a roster of products that they felt satisfied their rigorous criteria.
Each of the editors on the team nominates their favorite candidates, and then the list is vetted to ensure that each winning product is "really, truly unique," Bogo said.
"We look at things that do more than work well," she explained. "We look for things that actually solve a problem and things that do that in a genuinely new way. [These are] products that take advantage of new materials, or which are networked in a new way, or which can pack more processing power into a small space."
And while the precise variety of selections varies from year to year, it's clear from this year's choices that the editors are sticking with the same general set of themes that Jerry Bellinson, the magazine's deputy editor, spelled out in an interview with CNET in 2009: alternative energy and products and designers that push categories forward. … Read more