10. Jeff Han's Multitouch Wall: Hands-on
We followed NYU professor Jeff Han from his mind-blowing demonstrations in 2006 to the rise of multitouch computing (and his company, Perceptive Pixel), and capped it off with our 2007 Breakthrough Awards, where he demonstrated the a-ha moment: a glass of water.
From the 300,000-plus hits Han got on YouTube for his demo at the TED conference, you followed him, too: "I had seen his presentation at the TED conference," a PM commenter wrote, "and obviously Jeff is not sitting idle since then. Great going, I wonder when they get commercial."
Han has remained mum about specific contractors, but they're flocking alright.
9. Electric Motorcycle
Hybrid Technologies caught our eye with video test drives of its 600-hp, 175-mph electric roadster and production-ready, whisper-quiet electric Mini Cooper. But it was the startup's 500cc, 50-mph bike that started a war in the comments section.
After a heated back-and-forth over the motorcycle's performance and top speed, some DIYers of the bunch quieted down the arguments: "What is the problem with you people? Why is everyone on the Internet so negative," one asked. "You sit there at your computer and criticize these guys for trying their best to create a good, solid, realistic alternative to fossil fuels. I have an electric motorcycle that does 60 and goes about 25 miles. I converted an old bike--it only cost $3000 to build, and I love it."
Sounds like a candidate for PM's
8. Fab at Home 3D Printer: Hands-on First Look
DIY fabbing isn't an entirely new concept, but everything from bio-inkjet printers to open-source bases have set the stage for a collaborative revolution in 3D printing. That earned Hod Lipson and his team of Cornell computer geeks a PM Breakthrough Award--and got you excited.
While Lipson was praising open access in science education, one user praised fabbers as an open door to the Third World: "Matter is becoming information. Massive retail chains will be useless, and who knows, in 10 years some clever teenage African villager may discover the cure for invasive viruses and sell the recipe to all the home fabbers for a dollar a pop--in turn, making the Forbes list and winning the Nobel. This empowering innovation should be encouraged."
7. Robot Garage
Ferris Bueller's parking attendants and futuristic European car ports notwithstanding, this was the coolest thing we'd ridden in a while: AutoMotion's underground car retrieval system--a kind of CD changer for your condo.
You dug our subterranean robotic crawl to the sounds of Strauss, despite concerns about potential power failures, for which the company has built in backups. The bigger question: "Can anyone with experience in Europe/Japan comment on the longer-term experience with such garages (lines during peak usage, power failures, malfunctions, etc.)?"
As robot cars continue to evolve, AutoMotion is expanding from the Manhattan lot we visited to, well, Brooklyn ...
6. Propeller Trike
MIT student Damon Vander Lind was the star of our first annual reader-powered DIY Rally with his aircraft-meets-salvage-bin, 300-rpm tricycle. But that didn't stop readers across the blogosphere from slamming the breaks on the contraption's feasibility.
Then a smackdown from user pclminion : "This guy builds a trike with great glowing, whirling blades of death on the back and actually manages to ride it around for a while without getting shipped to Gitmo, and people just complain how it's not practical? You people fail utterly at nerd-dom."
Think you can do better? Send in your project for our 2008 awards.
5. Airbus A380 Test Drive
Logistical nightmares, spiral staircases and full bars aside, even readers who'd flown on the A380's first commercial flights abroad seemed to agree: "What really amazes me is how they can pull this all off. Incredible. Eighteen years, and still it contains all the latest technology? Can you imagine the logistical nightmare of continuously updating the designs to evolving technology?"
The bottom line at year's end, though? Orders for the Airbus superjumbo still pale in comparison to the 790 for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner ...
4. Maglev Prototype Car Test Train
Simple as it was at 22 seconds and 20 mph, PM contributor John Quain's test drive of General Atomics' magnetic levitation train was unique--it's the only one in this country. (Japan and Europe are spoken for.)
Our December cover story on high-speed trains coming to America was one of the most commented upon stories of the year, and for at least one reader, this video was just the beginning: "It's true maglevs are extremely expensive, but they are well worth it in the long run. With speeds up to 500 mph, they are faster than trains and much healthier for the environment. With more development, we should be able to reproduce the maglevs of the Japanese and Germans which run much better comfort-wise than the one pictured in the video."
As if the U.S. needed any more competition, Central Japan Railway this week announced plans to build a $45-billion, 310-mph maglev train by 2025.
3. Third-World Wind Power: First Look
This video turned 28-year-old inventor and 2007 PM Breakthrough Award winner Shawn Frayne into a Web superstar. We knew his low-key, low-cost Windbelt generator was a great idea, but who could have expected this?
"Somebody should kiss that man," gushed Gizmodo reader Caidence. "Al Gore, please recommend this kid for the Nobel prize," half-joked readthis on Digg. A bigger (if currently impossible) idea from Treehugger user scott: "I wonder if this could be used on a larger scale and replace regular wind turbines altogether for areas that don't have a lot of wind most of the time."
2. Aptera Typ-1 e: Exclusive Test Drive
Just in time for the holidays, PM automotive editor Ben Stewart shook up the Internet with a case of the threes: 3 wheels, $30,000 and 300 mpg. His 20-mi. trial of Aptera's aerodynamic plug-in car got greenies and car wonks alike shaking in their boots for what's sure to be a big year ahead for the electric vehicle market.
"Figured it out," joked Auto Blog Green reader Matt Peckham. "It's a Star Wars Imperial Landing Craft!"
Not quite, friends--the Typ-1 is just about production ready. Californians can sign up now.
1. Microsoft Surface: Hands-on First Look
Nearly 4.7 million people tuned in to watch PM senior tech editor Glenn Derene get an early demo and behind-the-scenes look at the software giant's first big foray into hardware. And while the process behind the development of such complex multitouch computing was enough to get us excited, it was the possibilities of Surface and similar devices that got the masses pumped up.
"It sounds pretty cool, but the price is to high--I'll buy one once the price drops," one PM commenter said of the commercial device. "It would be cool to just sit down at KFC or something, order your meal, then surf the `Net while you wait for the food to come."
Or as another one of our millions of PopMech TV viewers gushed: "They've done it: They've finally invented magic. LOL."