2019 saw the word “innovation” squeezed into many, many stories, and while some entries latched onto the word simply to roll with its popularity, others actually thought about real problems and set out to tackle them. That means something to us and it does to TIME, too. The culture-cradling publication wrapped together its list of inventions that made a mark in 2019. The below are the ones that stood out to us. The full list can be found here.
Herman Miller Cosm Chair
Photo courtesy of Herman Miller / Studio 7.5
For all the crazy gadgets and personal electronics set to change our lives, there’s a quality chair that could be a better purchase, one that gives you daily support quite literally. The Cosm Chair will adjust to how you sit thanks to the auto-harmonic tilt, which is a first from Herman Miller. The auto-harmonic tilt provides spinal support and a balanced recline to achieve better comfort for those rock and pivot moments. The leaf arms (“Dumbo ears”)—apparently another first—are structured on an angle so not to interfere with a desk. These leaf arms do cost more (an additional $200+) than the original fixed arms ($85+), and you can opt for no arms ($0) or height-adjustable arms ($170+). The seat height is adjustable from 14.8″ to 21.4″.
According to the design specs, the high-back chair (first image) option provides total back support including upper-thoracic support, while the low-back chair fosters collaboration and casual movements through the wrap top. The mid back chair “provides support up to the scapular region.” Any back height can be paired with any arm option, and you can choose between graphite, carbon or studio white for the frame finish, the latter two frame finishes cost more.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Foldable
Photo courtesy: Lenovo
We’re big into electronics and have mentioned “The Foldable Future” before in terms of products boasting cool ergonomics that reinvent spaces. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Foldable—a half laptop, half tablet setup—comes with a 13.3-inch 2K OLED display which folds in half like a book. It comes with a touchscreen with a virtual keyboard and when folded it comes in at 9 inches. We can’t overlook its ingenuity and how it’ll reshape the way we view and use mobile computing. The world’s first foldable PC is expected out in 2020. Back in October, PC Mag reported that Lenovo’s COO, Gianfrano Lanci, stated it will start shipping “[in] probably Q2 next year…Hardware is ready, but we need to still fix certain things from a software point of view and that does not depend 100% on us.” So, until then.
Focals by North
Photo courtesy: Focals 2.0 version above / Courtesy of North
This was a “special mention” on TIME‘s list, but we’re giving it a bigger mention since we’ve seen them up close, and like them. These smart focals were some of the neatest additions in eyewear seen in 2019. And they’re designed by a Toronto company. Each pair ($1,299) comes with a Bluetooth module, processor and battery, and you can review texts, notifications as well as order services using Alexa. You can opt for basic glasses or choose prescription lenses that cost extra. If this eyewear has piqued your interest, make sure to stay on the lookout for Focals 2.0, coming in 2020. According to North, Focals 2.0 are “the most advanced smart glasses ever made with a 10x improved retinal display.” More here.
“The first generation of Focals marked the evolution of traditional glasses to smart glasses, with a considered design representing the first true everyday smart glasses available on the market,” said Stephen Lake, CEO and co-founder of North.
“Focals 2.0 are at a completely different level, as the most advanced smart glasses ever made. They represent an enormous step forward in engineering the future. We spent the last year in the market learning how to build, sell and support smart glasses with our first generation product, that we now will combine with over five years of research working on the technology in Focals 2.0.”
Note: North told us that starting 2020, first-generation focals are no longer being sold. The option will only be Focals 2.0. Also, in order to get your sizing and fit done properly you’ll need to head to the Toronto showroom (113 Ossington Ave.) or the Brooklyn showroom (178 Court St.).
First, it’s Dyson, so a brand we regularly trust. Second, so many products and gear simply ruin our hair (we deserve better). Third, we like compact things that we can travel with. The Dyson Airwrap delivers help and while it’s not super cheap (starting at $649.99+ CAD), if you think about it as a one-stop operation that dries and styles without extreme heat, it might make those ears perk up a wee bit more. It comes with a digital V9 motor that brings high airflow. If we’re being technical, it rolled out at the end of 2018, but TIME included it on the list so we are too.
ClearUp from Tivic Health
Photo courtesy: Tivic Health Systems Inc.
A product that helps us breathe better is a win, and here’s something we’re very excited to hopefully try out. The small, handheld device uses microcurrent technology to help treat sinus pain due to allergies—we may finally get something other than Claritin or nasal drips that suck. Anyone who has seasonal allergies and a real ‘mean mugging’ hate for pollen understands this is a big opportunity to find relief.
As per the press kit: “ClearUp is an example of bioelectronic medicine, an emerging form of drug free, non-invasive medicine that uses low-level electrical stimulation, or neuromodulation, to treat chronic conditions.”
It is available over-the-counter now in the U.S., and can be purchased online at www.tivichealth.com. It is FDA-approved.
Photo courtesy: Burner App / Ad Hocs Lab
Another “special mention” from TIME was this robocall counter attack, which was created to firewall pesky calls and spam texts from getting to you. The app intercepts those unknown callers, directs them to voicemail and then transcribes the voicemail for you to read. The added transcribe capability is interesting as it helps Firewall reveal if it is a person you know or not. And having the ability to set more controls to gain more peace of mind is something we could all use more of. Plus, Firewall makes annoyances more of a fun game of “Not Today, Robo!”
FUTURECRAFT.LOOP from Adidas
These shoes are “made to be remade” and 100% recyclable. When you’re done with them Adidas will take them back to create the next generation of FUTURECRAFT.LOOP shoes. Following 7+ years of research, the shoes (now in beta testing) are made with a single material and without glue. More about this incredible innovation and the mandate surrounding it in the video above.
Photo courtesy: PureCycle Technologies
Another company that is putting its time and money into bettering the world is PureCycle through its groundbreaking recycling technology for plastics. The process, which was invented by Procter & Gamble, is the only one where recycled polypropylene can be restored to mirror its original properties. The company successfully completed its Feedstock Evaluation Unit (FEU) where it transformed discarded carpet into clear, odorless, Ultra-Pure Recycled Polypropylene (UPRP) resin, according to PureCycle.
“Our approach to innovation not only includes products and packaging, but technologies that allow us and others to have a positive impact on our environment,” said Kathy Fish, chief research and development and innovation officer at Procter & Gamble. “This technology, which can remove virtually all contaminants and colors from used plastic, has the capacity to revolutionize the plastics recycling industry…companies around the world [can] tap into sources of recycled plastics that deliver nearly identical performance and properties as virgin materials in a broad range of applications.”