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Popular Science Announces The 100 Best Innovations Of 2021

Popular Science is proud to announce the 2021 “Best of What’s New” Award winners, the 100 most groundbreaking, culture-shifting products and technologies of the year.

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“The Best of What’s New Awards showcase the year’s greatest feats of human ingenuity,” says Popular Science Editor-in-Chief Corinne Iozzio. “Despite the supply chain challenges making headlines in 2021, breakthroughs across all our categories have helped us glimpse a future brimming with possibilities. This collection, which includes everything from an artificial intelligence mapping more-efficient airline routes to mountain-bike shocks that adjust themselves on the fly, is full of items we’re proud to dub the Best of What’s New.”


Innovators took notable steps forward in another tumultuous year, offering products to help update our homes, safeguard our health, protect the environment, and dive into more-immersive virtual escapes. The Best of What’s New Awards span 10 categories: Aerospace, Automotive, Engineering, Entertainment, Gadgets, Health, Home, Personal Care, Security, and Sports & Outdoors. Each winner not only represents a significant step forward in its category but also speaks to the hard work and innovation of scientists and engineers around the world.

This year saw our drive to adapt to the “new norm,” and underscored our collective efforts to create a more sustainable world in all facets. Two biotech companies developed the groundbreaking vaccines that have allowed us to begin glimpsing post-COVID-life (mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna); meanwhile, another game-changing vaccine for malaria was also released to the public this year (Mosquirix by GlaxoSmithKline).

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Home workout technology became more affordable and accessible (Tempo Move by Tempo), and as health-tracking continues to gain in popularity, wearables have become more advanced and discreet (Oura Ring Generation 3 by ŌURA Health); Companies also continued to make strides in sustainability: A revolutionary backpacking kit that uses mushrooms to break down above-surface human waste (PACT Kit by PACT Outdoors), Alaska Airlines began using artificial intelligence to craft flight plans that save thousands of gallons of fuel—and time (FlyWays AI by Airspace Intelligence), a new steel production process cuts 97% of carbon emissions (HYBRIT Green Steel by SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall), and a salon-ready system reduces water usage by up to 80% (L’Oréal Water Saver by L’Oréal) all debuted this year.

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  • Health: mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer (Innovation of the Year)
  • Aerospace: FlyWays AI by Airspace Intelligence
  • Auto: R1T by Rivian
  • Engineering: HYBRIT Green Steel by SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall
  • Entertainment: Dual-cell ULED 4K TV U9DG by Hisense
  • Gadgets: M1 Chip by Apple
  • Home: Hair Screw Tool by Dyson
  • Personal Care: Tempo Move by Tempo
  • Security: Total Cookie Protection by Firefox
  • Sports & Outdoors: Yeti 160E by Yeti Cycles

Other winners include: 2022 F-150 Lightning by Ford; SkyCool Panels by SkyCool Systems; Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera by Sony; THOR by Air Force Research Laboratory; Kato sunglasses by Oakley; Surface Adaptive Kit by Microsoft; WHOOP 4.0 and WHOOP Body by Whoop. The complete list can be found here.

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