Radical wheelchairs and windmills are among the winning concepts in the 2010 World Changing Ideas Video Contest, sponsored by Scientific American and SciVee, the online science video site. In videos running two to five minutes, entrants showcased innovative ways to build a cleaner, healthier or safer world—simple yet powerful visions of a better future.
Some of the submissions revealed new inventions or processes, others offered ingenious ideas. A panel of five judges determined the winners based on an idea's ability to change the world, its scientific content, and its originality. See for yourself.
The Leveraged Freedom Chair
Video: Amos Winter and MIT News Office
A wheelchair with a hand-powered, geared drivetrain that travels effectively over sand, dirt and other terrain often confronted in developing countries. The user changes gears and propels the chair simply by moving his hands on a set of levers, allowing him to travel fast on hard ground or to go offroad.
"Ingenious, simple, doable now. It could change one person's whole world."
"Nice, simple design."
Idea and video: Leonardo Bonanni
A crowdsourced Web site that tracks the environmental footprint of product supply chains. Visualizations and calculators allow consumers to estimate the impact of products, foods and events.
"A powerful meme; this kind of information inspires people to change behavior."
"Great educational tool."
A low-cost wind turbine for suburban backyards and city rooftops that operates in slow and fast winds. Electricity is generated using uncommon aerodynamic principles.
"Good compatibility with the built environment."
"Figured it out by experimenting in his backyard."
Related Site: http://www.urbanpowerusa.com/
Davide Castelvecchi, board of editors, Scientific American
Mark Fischetti, board of editors, Scientific American
Stephen Kyle, professor of applied economics, Cornell University
John Pavlus, writer and independent science filmmaker
Michael Webber, professor of mechanical engineering, University of Texas at Austin