While many things ground to a halt in the wake of the pandemic this year, the ever-flowing tide of technological advancements has carried on. In fact, 2020 has been quite an impressive year for technology – from massive mecha robots to invisible skin, the year really has given us everything. So, in the spirit of the holiday season, we decided to do a round-up of the most impressive, most influential, or just downright coolest tech creations of the year.
60-foot Robot Takes Its First Steps
In a bid to bring one of the most famous anime robots to life, engineers in Japan have developed a gigantic 18-meter (60-foot) Gundam mech – and it can now walk. Standing tall above the port city of Yokohama, the mech took its first steps in early July and has since been in testing mode to try a range of different movements. Despite existing purely to marvel at, this 25-ton beast is also a huge feat of modern robotics, with hands that feature articulated fingers and legs that can entirely support its hefty weight.
Artificial Skin Could Render Wearers Almost Invisible
Taking a stealthier approach, researchers from Seoul National University have brought superheroes to life by creating an artificial "skin" that is almost invisible on the visible-infrared spectrum. The scientists claim that the skin could be useful in creating an "invisibility cloak," and the pictures definitely provide a basis for their statements. Rendering the user almost invisible to infrared cameras and able to adapt to its surroundings to change color, this may be the closest we get to a human chameleon for a long time.
Google AI Solves "Greatest Problem In Biology"
The human body is a complicated system of cellular processes that keep us alive and working, one of the most important of which is protein synthesis. Proteins are folded chains of amino acids, creating intricate shapes that dictate their function. Predicting how these chains will fold has remained one of the largest problems in biology, and through impressive research Google’s DeepMind AlphaFold AI has come to the rescue. By utilizing machine learning, the AI could predict protein folding with startling accuracy. If all the claims are verified, it may represent one of the greatest biology leaps for a very, very long time.
AI Camera MistakES FOOTBALL ReFEREE's Bald Head For Ball
For incredible AI advancements like AlphaFold to exist, there has to have been some hiccups along the way. Perhaps the best of 2020 was an AI camera that was supposed to track a football during a game, but instead kept locking on to the shiny top of the referee’s bald head. Despite how excited the team was to unveil their modern-era tracking software, allowing fans to watch in real-time from the safety of their own home due to lockdown, it turned out that the allure of the ref’s head was far too much for the AI and this made it quite difficult to enjoy the action.
Retractable Lightsaber Cuts Through Steel Like Butter
Topping off our yearly round-up is this awesome creation by The Hacksmith, a YouTuber synonymous with creating the coolest gadgets from TV and comic books. Although he has achieved some incredible engineering feats, no one expected his team to manage to pull off perhaps the greatest sci-fi weapon of all time – the lightsaber. Capable of slicing through steel, the lightsaber produced a stream of ultra-hot plasma that perfectly formed the shape of the classic lightsabers from Star Wars. Best of all, by introducing different salts to the mix, the engineers could change the saber’s color to match any of your favorite heroes or villains from the movies.