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Matters of Fact

Cool inventions

Since the invention of the wheel around 3500 BCE, humans have kept dreaming up the next big thing. Here are some of the latest inventions straight from the future. 

A prosthetic hand powered by AI

Powered by artificial intelligence, the BrainRobotics prosthetic hand allows the user to make unlimited gestures and grips, controlling it almost as they would a real hand. The hand can process muscle signals from the user’s arm with the help of sensors in the wrist. An algorithm helps the prosthetic and user learn from each other. Unfortunately, those who are in the market for a prosthetic hand will have to wait a bit longer as the product is still in the testing phase.[1] 


Foldable laptop

It’s a laptop. No, it’s a tablet. Wait, it’s both! The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Foldable can be flat like a tablet, creased like a book or configured into a traditional laptop. The touchscreen spans the entire surface with a virtual keyboard included, or you can use a physical keyboard and mouse. About 23 centimetres in size when folded, the device is very portable. Coming soon to a retailer near you …[2]


Padrone Ring

No, it’s not an asteroid belt in a Star Wars galaxy. The Padrone Ring is a computer mouse. Just slip it on your finger, connect to any device with Bluetooth and click or scroll away. What’s more, this ring-mouse is available in 12 different sizes and waterproof, so you can keep it on your finger without worrying about it falling off or getting wet.[3]


Dolfi does your laundry

The latest innovation in stain removers, Dolfi gets the dirt out while you barely lift a finger (unless you’re putting on your Padrone Ring of course). How does it work? All you need to do is fill a bucket with water, add a drop of laundry detergent and pop in your stained garment. Next, drop in the Dolfi – this little timesaver uses carefully modulated ultrasonic waves to get your clothes looking new again without scrubbing.[4]


Ride your bike … on the lake

If you’ve ever wanted to cycle on water, now you can thanks to the Manta5 Hydrofoil Bike. A strange-looking apparatus, the Manta5 is a bike with hydrofoil blades instead of wheels. To make the bike glide easily over the water, it’s equipped with pedal assist – motors built into the frame that multiply the power produced by your legs. Those lucky enough to have tried it say it’s an exhilarating ride – sort of a cross between riding a mountain bike and surfing.[5]


Insoles of the future

If you’re a runner, then you know how important it is to wear the right footwear. Nurvv insoles go a step or three further – not only do they provide extra cushioning, these bad boys are equipped with sensors that measure stride, length, cadence, foot strike and more. The data is transmitted to a coaching app that tracks your performance, technique and injury risk. The app can then create personalized workouts and set targets to help you beat your top speeds.[6] 


How patents work

A patent is a government licence that gives an inventor the sole right to make, use or sell their invention for a set amount of time (to a maximum of 20 years from the day the inventor files the application). In Canada, a patent document clearly describes the invention and can be accessed by anyone. However, no one can make, use or sell the invention without the patent holder’s permission. Interestingly, a patent can be sold for profit or used as an asset to negotiate funding.

Patents are granted based on three basic criteria: inventiveness, utility (it has to work or be useful!) and novelty. They cover new inventions or improvements to an existing invention, such as a product, process or composition. If an inventor has a patent for an improvement and the patent for the original invention is still in force, they can’t manufacture or market the product with the improvement without a licence from the original patent holder.

Source: www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr03652.html


A Victorian vision of the future

The Victorian era (circa 1837–1901) was a time of industrial revolution and social change, producing many inventors and thinkers who had interesting ideas of what the future would look like. Here are some whimsical predictions made by our Victorian predecessors. Some of them sound eerily familiar.

Personal flying machines

Victorians were fascinated with air transportation, and many predicted that by the year 2000 the sky would be filled with personal flying cars.[7] While we aren’t quite there, flying cars are in the works – ever hear of Uber Elevate?[8] 

FaceTime, Instagram and the like

With the increased usage of electricity, Victorians imagined a world where people could connect electronically even from thousands of miles away to share photographs instantly or have “face-to-face” conversations with faraway friends. Sounds like they were thinking about video calls, smart devices and social media.[9]

Moving pavements

Postcards from the Paris World Fair in 1900 depicted pavements that moved happy Victorians as they rested on settees.[10] While we don’t have plush sofas to recline on as we are moved from A to B, most airports have moving corridors to transport luggage-laden and weary passengers from one end to another.

Robots to do household chores

Even in Victorian times, no one liked to spend hours doing housework, leading some to imagine a future in which everyone had robots to do it for them.[11] Well, they weren’t far wrong. Besides machines like washers, dryers and self-cleaning ovens, Roombas and similar cleaning “robots” can ensure our homes are spic and span by the time we finish a long day at work. 


© 2020 Manulife. The persons and situations depicted are fictional and their resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. This media is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide specific financial, tax, legal, accounting or other advice and should not be relied upon in that regard. Many of the issues discussed will vary by province. Individuals should seek the advice of professionals to ensure that any action taken with respect to this information is appropriate to their specific situation. www.manulife.ca/accessibility 



[1] https://time.com/collection/best-inventions-2019/5733081/brainrobotics-ai-prosthetic-hand

[2] https://time.com/collection/best-inventions-2019/5733082/lenovo-thinkpad-x1-foldable

[3] https://beebom.com/cool-awesome-inventions

[4] https://beebom.com/cool-awesome-inventions

[5] www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/eight-remarkable-inventions-unveiled-this-years-ces-180973936/?page=4

[6] www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/eight-remarkable-inventions-unveiled-this-years-ces-180973936/?page=3

[7] https://futurism.com/2018-looking-back-century

[8] www.uber.com/ca/en/elevate

[9] www.businessinsider.com/predictions-for-the-present-from-the-past-2016-4

[10] www.toptipsfeed.com/12-victorian-predictions-century

[11] www.businessinsider.com/predictions-for-the-present-from-the-past-2016-4

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