TIME recently released its list of best inventions for 2023.
The magazine’s iconic annual list compiles interesting and impactful inventions from around the globe, outlining their potential for the world and its future.
As the province’s technology publication of record, Techcouver is proud to report on British Columbia creations gracing the list, including an AI-powered robot “coworker” and an Okanagan-made solution to the terrible amount of water wasted by household showers.
Below, the top BC-based inventions of the year, according to TIME.
Sanctuary AI, bent on developing human-like intelligence in general-purpose robots since 2018, powers its sixth-generation Phoenix humanoid through Carbon, an AI control system that is designed to give the robot a human-like intelligence.
Shy of six feet tall and weighing in at 155 pounds, Phoenix now stands among TIME’s Best Inventions.
CEO Geordie Rose says Phoenix boasts industry-leading robotic hands that feature human-like dexterity, fine manipulation, and a sense of touch, which renders the robot “uniquely suited to perform work.”
While many robots in development lean toward specializations that are tailored for certain industries or particular situations, Phoenix is instead a jack-of-all-trades. The robot isn’t trying to be better than human workers at any one thing, but rather is aiming to replicate a broad swath of human worker abilities.
“The goal is that our general-purpose robots will be capable of doing any work that people can do,” Rose stated for TIME.
Phoenix’s specialization is that it has none, and that’s exactly what Rose believes is necessary to alleviate global labour market stresses and free up humanity’s time.
“Sanctuary technology has already successfully deployed to commercial sites which proved our proprietary AI training process is effective and that the technology is commercially viable,” he says. “We remain relentlessly committed and optimistic in our pursuit to creating a future where everyone can work more safely, efficiently, and sustainably.”
Changing How We Interact with Machines
Founded by Mark Godsy and Dave Segal, Vancouver’s Naqi Logix is aiming to revolutionize humanity’s interaction with machines.
“Our hands-free, voice-free, and screen-free Human-Machine Interface represents a major paradigm shift, offering a powerful new command and control capability that no other earbud or wearable offers,” the company states online.
Electrical signals—made by clenching a jaw or lifting an eyebrow—convert to fully fledged commands.
While still in development, founders posit the device could be used for everything from wheelchairs to professional gaming.
Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, who is quadriplegic, is among those grateful for Naqi’s technological advances.
Through Naqi’s earbuds, Sullivan can operate his Permobil wheelchair without need for a head array, sip-puff straw, or a joystick.
“I’ve been waiting for something like this my whole life,” said Sullivan. “As a quadriplegic, I can say the ability to control a chair just by looking at where I want to go or by blinking my eyes to control the smart devices in the world around me is an amazing thing for me and other people with accessibility issues.”
When something comes along that someone has been waiting for their whole life, it’s probably a decent invention. TIME agrees: the magazine this month recognized Naqi’s neural earbuds as one of the best inventions of 2023.
The company boasts two dozen patents globally.
Swimming in Water Savings
Kelowna’s RainStick Shower was named one of the best inventions of 2023 by TIME.
Using proprietary water recirculation technology, RainStick Shower recovers the water and energy typically wasted to create an environmentally conscious shower experience.
The wifi-enabled circular shower claims to save up to 80% water and up to 80% energy while providing up to double the flow of a traditional low-flow shower.
An associated mobile app allows users to track their water and energy savings.
In a two-person home, the device annually saves “almost a swimming pool’s worth of water,” according to cofounder Alisha McFetridge, who serves as chief executive of the startup.
The clean-tech startup raised a $1 million seed round in 2021.
RainStick Shower was awarded the Best of CES 2022 Innovations Award Honouree.