Game changers!

The Edison Awards recognize the best innovations of the year

Created date

June 28th, 2019
ICON’s Vulcan II 3-D printer can construct a home in 24–48 hours.

ICON’s Vulcan II 3-D printer can construct a home in 24–48 hours.

Known as the “father of invention,” Thomas Edison (1847-1931) suffered from significant hearing loss for most of his life. 

In the late 1800s, the options for correcting deafness were extremely limited. Edison tried hearing aids and even told reporters he was working on a design of his own. But apparently, he preferred to live without any artificial sound amplification, once telling a gathering of hard-of-hearing people to follow his lead and “take to reading. It beats the babble of ordinary conversation.”  

Edison’s aversion to hearing aids is understandable. Back then, hearing aids were large, uncomfortable, and often unreliable. Had he lived in 2019, Edison may have had an altogether different opinion of hearing aids, especially if he had an opportunity to try the Eargo Max, a tiny rechargeable hearing aid with patented Flexi Fibers (soft medical-grade silicone) that suspend the device in the ear canal for a natural sound experience (eargo.com). 

Eargo Max is just one of more than a hundred new products honored with a prestigious 2019 Edison Award. Judged by over 3,000 professionals, Edison Awards recognize the best innovations in 16 categories. 

“After 32 years, it never ceases to amaze us how innovations that we could only dream about become our reality. Once again, the winners created innovations that are revolutionizing industries and becoming indispensable,” said Frank Bonafilia, executive director of the Edison Awards.

While some of the winners represent innovations that promise to revolutionize highly specialized industrial tasks, many of the honorees hold the promise of improving aspects of regular daily life. 

Laundry optional

Who likes doing the laundry? Not only does laundry take precious time, but washing machines use anywhere from 14 to 40 gallons of water per load. Edison Award winner Day2 by Unilever gives consumers the option of skipping the washer altogether. Simply spray Day2 on clothes you have worn and let them air out. Not only does it save time and energy, Day2 significantly reduces water use. Unilever says that each bottle cleans the equivalent of one load of laundry (day2.com).

Personal care

“Sometimes the simplest tasks, like cutting your fingernails, are the most difficult and humbling,” says ClipDifferent founder and Edison Award winner Tom McMullen Jr. “Since childhood, when my younger sister was diagnosed with polio and as an adult, when my wife was diagnosed with progressive health issues, I’ve looked to help people of all abilities find simple and safe solutions to everyday tasks. ClipDifferent makes everyday life a little easier.”

As anyone who has ever needed help doing basic, everyday things knows, having the power to care for yourself makes a tremendous difference in a person’s outlook and self-image. McMullen’s ClipDifferent Pro is an automatic nail clipper that is gentle, safe, and rechargeable (clipdifferent.com).

Food technology

“Once again, the winners created innovations that are revolutionizing industries and becoming indispensable,” says Bonafilia. “One of the game-changing winners, Food Freshness Card, was recognized as a true innovator out of the many products in its category, Food and Technology.”

The Food Freshness Card extends the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, and breads at any point in the food chain, from the farm or production facility to the packaging plant, shipper, supermarket, and even in consumers’ homes.  

“Global food waste totals $5 billion annually and accounts for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rick Hassler, developer of the Food Freshness Card. Put the Food Freshness Card in your refrigerator, under your fruit bowl, or in your bread box to keep foods fresh up to 50% longer. It’s guaranteed to last at least one year (foodfreshnesscard.com). 

Another Edison Award-winning food technology innovation that will impact food safety is the 3M™ Petrifilm™ Rapid E. coli/Coliform Count Plate. It’s a two-in-one indicator test for E. coli and total coliform bacteria. Unlike similar tests currently on the market, this gives accurate results quickly—within 18-24 hours—which allows processors to remove tainted products from the marketplace before they reach consumers’ homes and could significantly reduce the incidence of foodborne illnesses (3m.com/3M/en_US/food-safety-us).

Print your next home

Safe shelter is one of the most basic human needs, but for too many it’s a need that continues to go unmet. Edison Award winning ICON aims to solve that problem with its 3-D printed homes. The first 3-D printed home was constructed in Austin, Tex. It took less than two days to build and cost about $10,000. 

Moving forward, ICON will partner with nonprofits to create homes for the poor in Latin America. Plans are currently underway to build a community of 100 small homes for a projected cost of about $4,000 each (iconbuild.com).

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