Pessimists panic at the spate of bad economic news that spews forth now and then. Optimists take the long view, and say the bad news is only temporary. Good times will return as they always do, they predict. We agree, and point to the continuing development of new products as evidence of a basically healthy economy.
This issue celebrates the best of the new products that were introduced in 1998, as selected by our special panel of independent judges. The products cover the full range of technologies Design News readers are involved in. We invite you to cast your vote for the single best product of the year. See Page 89 for the ballot.
New products are the lifeblood of design. They are both the product of the creativity of engineers, and the enablers of that creativity. And while most originate in the manufacturing sector, many have their genesis at the nation's universities and research labs, which do conceptual and prototype development and often eventually license the designs to industry.
Here are two of the more recent innovations developed in academic labs that could find their way into industry:
- A microneedle thinner than the diameter of a human hair. It's being developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and could eventually be the basis for a new drug-delivery technique that would enable the administration of small quantities of high-potency medications painlessly.
- Data that could lead to more efficient highway lighting systems. Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center, in research sponsored by General Electric, OSRAM Sylvania, Philips, and the U.S. Department of Energy, are experimenting with a driving simulator to measure reaction under varying lighting conditions. Design News reported on this in our Technology Bulletin in the October 5, 1998 issue.
As work like the above examples is commercialized it will prime the pump for even more development of other support products. Thus, as long as engineers have the creativity to conceive new-product ideas and the energy to develop those ideas, the economy will continue to grow.