In our annual World Changing Ideas roundup, we select 10 innovations—from software that uses eye movements to control wheelchairs to cameras that can see around corners—that could become game changers. Here, we’ve collected videos (and one audio interview) in which the scientists and engineers behind four of this year’s innovations give a deeper look at their work.
Aldo Faisal, an associate professor of neurotechnology at Imperial College London, developed an inexpensive system that translates a person’s eye movements into commands for external devices. In this 2012 Ted Talk Faisal gives an early peek at the invention, describing how the eye-tracking software can control wheelchairs, computers and video games. Faisal’s team is currently developing robotic exoskeletons operated by this technology.
After decades of slow progress on massive fusion power projects, some researchers are pursuing smaller alternatives. The British Columbia–based start-up General Fusion, for example, aims to build a reactor that will use shock waves propagating through liquid metal to induce fusion. In this 2014 Ted Talk General Fusion founder Michel Laberge explains his company’s approach.
Machines that teach themselves
Deep learning, a brain-inspired approach to machine learning already used in services like Apple’s Siri and Google’s photos app, could be a big step forward for the field of artificial intelligence. In this audio interview Geoffrey Hinton of the University of Toronto and later Google, who has often been called the “godfather of deep learning,” explains innovations in his field and discusses the risk—or in his opinion, lack thereof—of artificial intelligence.
Seeing around corners
Cameras can now see the world at one trillion frames per second—fast enough to look around corners. Ramesh Raskar of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab shows a $500,000 experimental version of the camera at work in this 2012 Ted Talk. Since then his group has gotten the cost of the system down to roughly $100.