What shall I write for my essay (or science journal article, may it be)? I look at my blank word document and begin to type. I have my subject! My word document! No, it is the written language, which can capture ideas and thoughts. And my computer, which stores my writing and allows me to edit. More broadly, my subject is innovation, the creation of a new idea or method. The written language, weapons, mathematics, and printing are among the greatest innovations of all time. They have stood through periods of war and of peace and prevailed timelessly as inevitable components of society.
Innovations can come many ways and from many sources; they may come accidentally or through necessity. Companies innovate by improving products and services to meet society’s demands and keep up with competitors. For those in business, innovation is critical to maintaining revenue and keeping customers satisfied. Scientists and engineers also innovate, whether in searching for a novel cure for a disease or creating a new gadget that will ease the flow of everyday life. Creative new products are constantly being designed. Here are some examples.
The Surge Protector
But not just any surge protector. In light of today’s conservation efforts, Belkin, a consumer electronics corporation, has created a surge protector that goes beyond merely protecting devices from voltage spikes: Belkin’s surge protector saves energy and money as well. Belkin innovators knew that even when electronic devices are powered off, they still suck precious energy. After scratching their heads for some time, they invented a surge protector with the extra feature of cutting off power from select electronic devices in order to eliminate waste of standby energy. Belkin’s surge protector meets the need to conserve while serving the surge protector’s traditional role.
Insulin and Diabetes
For people with diabetes, insulin providing devices are an integral part of daily life. Insulin must be inserted in the bloodstream in order to maintain stable blood glucose levels. The primitive needle and syringe method was one of the first ways this was accomplished. However, scientists soon recognized the need for a discreet yet effective insulin-delivering pump. After all, poking yourself with a needle to monitor glucose level, and then poking yourself a few more times to actually get insulin in your body isn’t the most pleasant thing to deliberately do every day. Thanks to their efforts, there are now customizable external insulin pumps that deliver insulin based on a daily routine and can sense changes in blood glucose levels. This greatly improves the quality of life for diabetics. Current research shows an in-development intranasal spray may also show some promise.
Those Nasty Mosquitoes
Innovation doesn’t always come from the big companies and scientists. Anyone can innovate. For an elementary school science fair project in Taiwan, one student and his teacher devised a method to capture mosquitoes. By using an empty soda bottle, paper, tape, water, yeast, and cane sugar, the student was able to make a trap that caught 1,400 mosquitoes over the course of a few weeks. No more mosquito problem.
As you might have realized, innovation can come from anyone, and it can be practical or just cool. Visit http://www.journys.org/innovation-blog to find out more about innovation and Innovation Club meetings at Torrey Pines High School. Our world is always in need of innovators.