The 5 most important innovations in 2017

The year 2017 is slowly coming to an end. It was a year of innovation, technology and disruptions. Technologies such as block-chain or deep learning have made a leap forward. Flying taxis and holograms conquered the headlines and let us take a look into the future.


Also for 2017 the TIME Magazine did not want to miss out on the 25 best inventions of the year. Hundreds of inventions from all over the world flowed into their deliberations. The resulting list does not allocate any placements, it only shows the most impressive innovations and developments. Everything is represented, from electronics and clothing to food.

Although it may not be possible to agree with all 25 representatives on the list, there are five developments in particular that could have a fundamental impact on the future.


eSight 3 lets visually impaired people see again

There are 39 million blind and 246 million visually impaired people worldwide. Navigation through everyday life has long since become a routine challenge for them. They use aids such as sticks or guide dogs, but these only help them to find their bearings in everyday life and not to regain some of their sight. eSight 3 addresses this problem and offers a solution.

How eSight works (Source: eSight)


Once the users have set up eSight, the integrated camera records a high-resolution video and converts it into a format that can be recognized by people with impaired vision using algorithms that change contrast and magnification. With a proud price of nearly $10,000, the hurdle to making it accessible to everyone is still quite high, but it is a first step on the way to a more flexible life for people with visual impairment.



Thyssenkrupp MULTI – the multidirectional elevator

Our architecture is changing. In a few years’ time, futurists might even say that houses will no longer extend upwards but across large areas and widths. Such a change in the cityscape and house structure also requires new solutions for transport through the individual parts of the building.

Reimagining building design (Source: Thyssenkrupp)


Thyssenkrupp has already developed the first concepts for this case, which quickly recall the extracts from Charlie and the chocolate factory. MULTI uses a technology similar to that of magnetic levitation trains, enabling high-speed elevators to move sideways through a building. The elevator cabs developed by Thyssenkrupp can travel in several directions. After an initial successful test this year, the first MULTI 2021 is to be installed in Berlin. A revolution in architecture and the beginning of completely new building concepts for the future.


Michelin Vision Concept – the airless tyre

The automotive industry was on everyone’s lips this year with many topics. Apart from a few scandals, there have been breakthroughs in the areas of autonomous driving and electromobility. In spite of everything, however, a conceptual work by Michelin has caused a stir. It was not about drives or controls, but about something fundamental for all cars – the tires.


The Visionary MICHELIN Concept Tire (Source: Michelin)

In a future where all cars are smart, tyres must also become smarter. Michelin’s Visions concept presents a tyre that needs no air at all. However, this is not only a breakthrough in tyre technology, the 3D-printed treads can be easily replaced, so that the car is always optimally positioned in the lane, depending on the road surface. If the tires are worn out, the material can be easily recycled. According to project manager Terry Gettys, it will take up to 20 years before Michelin’s innovative tyres are ready for the market, but Michelin has definitely earned a place among the top innovations of the year.



Norton Core – the secure Smart Home Router

Smart homes are seen as one of the most likely future trends. Even today, more and more devices are being linked together via the Internet of Things. Virtual assistants simplify our lives. However, the topic of data security plays an extreme role in all discussions about the opportunities and possibilities of Smart Home. When all devices are online, it opens the door for hackers.

Product presentation Norton Core (Source: Norton)


Norton Core is designed to eliminate this threat. Unlike most routers today, the device itself is intelligent. It detects abnormalities and dangers at an early stage and counteracts them. If a device in the Internet of Things network is infected with a virus, the router immediately separates it from the entire network and thus secures the overall structure. The Norton Core thus provides a piece of security in a networked world.


Jibo – the virtual assistant of the future

As already mentioned, they are also an integral part of the networked world – virtual assistants. Alexa, Siri and Google Home have already become part of many households and it is expected that more of these devices will be under the Christmas tree this Christmas.

Jibo Ad (Source: Jibo Robot)


However, Jibo is different from the previous assistants. It looks very much like a character from an animation film, has a large round head and a “face” that shows its mood or ability by means of animated logos. Everything about Jibo is designed to look cute, trustworthy and human. It is only partially superior to the other devices in terms of functionality, but it fits seamlessly into the household and looks less like a foreign body than a new “family member”.


As this list shows, 2017 was a year of change. It was a year of trends in which many forecasts, as I myself did in January, were confirmed and others refuted. For 2018, we have another exciting year ahead of us. But which trends await us is the subject of another article.




Post picture: Jibo Robot

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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