After more than a decade of delicious craft-beer-making, Magic Hat Brewery had grown into a major operation.
They got so big, in fact, that they … actually couldn’t get any bigger.
By 2007, Magic Hat was making more than 3.3 million gallons of beer a year. More than 90% of that final product was water, which was a major problem for the town of South Burlington, Vermont. (And that’s not even counting the water used in cleaning and other aspects of production, too.)
As it was, the brewery’s water bills were costing them about $200,000 a year, and the treatment facilities in their hometown were already working at full capacity. They wanted to start making more beer. But if they did, there wouldn’t be any water left for the city’s 18,000 residents.
Fitch had been looking for a place to put his prototype into action. Magic Hat was looking for ways to expand without ruining the city’s water supply. It was a match made in Hop Heaven.
Converting their leftover beer parts into sustainable electricity? That was just an added bonus.
From a futuristic bus that glides over traffic to a $1 cup saving countless babies’ lives, inventors developed ingenious gadgets and ideas that tackle inequality and improve the world for millions of people.
In no particular order and certainly not an exhaustive list these 21 social good innovations had a massive impact this year.
The only thing cooler than a drone is an edible drone especially one that saves lives.
An inexpensive drone prototype, called Pouncer, was designed to help deliver humanitarian aid to remote regions with impassible roads. The drone doesn’t just carry essential items for relief, but also features a plywood frame for firewood, wings packed with food and protective covers that can double as shelter.
Windhorse Aerospace, the company behind Pouncer, designed the drone in an effort to revolutionize aid in the aftermath of natural disasters. The team hopes the prototype will become a reality in 2017.
2. A wheelchair made for people in developing countries
For people with mobility-related disabilities, wheelchairs can be essential. But for people in developing regions, traditional wheelchairs are often unusable on the rough, rural terrain.
SafariSeat, an all-terrain wheelchair, is a low-cost solution to this often overlooked problem. The durable wheelchair is propelled forward by hand levers and features sturdy wheels. It’s also made entirely of repurposed bicycle parts, designed to be manufactured and maintained in impoverished regions.
SafariSeat began crowdfunding on Kickstarter in November, and plans to start production in Kenya in 2017.
3. Edible food packaging made with milk
Forget plastic packaging, and say hello to milk protein film.
To help curb the globe’s reliance on plastic for storing and preserving food, U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers announced the creation of a new biodegradable film in August, which is made of the milk protein casein.
The edible film is estimated to be 500 times better than plastic packaging at keeping food fresh, keeping oxygen away from food more effectively.
4. A bot that helps low-income families fight eviction
When expensive lawyers won’t fit your budget, getting legal aid can seem impossible. But that’s where robots come in.
Stanford undergrad Joshua Browder released a bot called DoNotPay in August, which helps those unable to afford legal aid fight evictions.
To use DoNotPay, a person facing eviction has a simple instant message-like conversation with the bot, which acts as a virtual lawyer. Based on the conversation, the bot decides how to best serve the user, usually crafting a claims letter based on the information provided.
Through this computerized consulting process, the DoNotPay bot can potentially help low-income users save hundreds of dollars in legal fees.
5. A prosthetic that can be custom-molded in two hours
Molding a custom prosthetic usually takes several weeks, numerous appointments and lots of money. For low-income amputees worldwide, access to these prosthetics is simply impossible. In fact, 80% of amputees worldwide go without modern prosthetics.
German startup AMPARO created an alternative, drastically simplifying the process of custom-fitting a prosthetic to an artificial limb. The innovation, dubbed the Dignity Socket, is re-moldable, with the ability to adjust to big or small changes in limb size for more comfort. It can also be custom-molded to a wearer in as few as two hours.
An ocean-cleaning innovation finally became a reality in 2016 after five years of research, prototypes and creativity.
Dutch entrepreneur Boyan Slat first proposed an ocean cleanup machine at only 17 years old. But a prototype of the buoyant boom-like device called Boomy McBoomface was finally put into action in June, thanks to more than $10 million in funding.
Slat’s device floats along a coast and creates an artificial coastline, catching debris on the surface of the ocean. A connected conveyer then lifts the garbage into a central tower, where it is sorted for disposal.
7. The high-tech toy helping autistic children socialize
Leka is way more than a cute-as-can-be smart toy. The interactive and multi-sensory device is more like a buddy specially designed for autistic children, encouraging them to develop autonomy through independent play.
The round toy plays sounds and music, speaks, lights up, and vibrates to engage children in multi-sensory activities. Leka is also customizable, which means it can be tailored to fit a child’s needs and comfort.
The toy completed a successful Indiegogo campaign over the summer, raising more than 152% of its goal.
8. A reversible tent that provides shelter to homeless populations
For many homeless people, one of the biggest challenges of living without stable shelter is confronting extreme weather.
WeatherHYDE is a reversible tent that protects homeless populations and families in developing nations against all types of weather. One side of the tent features reflective panels, which cools the interior down in extreme heat. The other side protects against severe cold by insulating the tent, trapping in body heat to warm up the interior.
A Kickstarter campaign to fund production and distribution of 500 tents to families in need ran throughout November, receiving more than $145,000 worth of funding.
9. A device that helps the Deaf community detect danger
If an alarm is meant to indicate danger, what happens when you can’t hear the warning? It could be dangerous or even deadly.
Furenexo, a startup based in New York, launched a Kickstarter campaign in July to build SoundSense, a small wearable that is designed to help deaf individuals detect loud sounds and alerts. The device is triggered by warning sounds, like sirens and car horns, transforming the audio alerts into felt vibrations.
The device will only cost $30 significantly lower than similar devices.
10. The biodegradable six-pack rings that feed sea life
Sick of seeing sad sea creatures stuck in plastic six-pack rings? You and your aquatic friends are in luck.
Florida-based Saltwater Brewery invented a biodegradable and compostable version of the classic plastic rings that makes use of their natural brewing byproducts, like wheat and barley. The best part: The rings are also edible, meaning sea life can munch on them without fear.
The six-pack rings went viral in May, when the prototype was first announced.
11. The $1 feeding cup that is saving infants’ lives
If an infant in a developing nation can’t nurse, they’re at an increased risk of malnutrition, or even death. But a new innovation costing mere pocket change has the potential to change that.
The NIFTY cup, a simple innovation that costs only $1, grants infants who can’t latch with the ability to feed. The cup features a spout that collects milk from the larger container designed to fit an infant’s mouth.
12. The machine designed to destroy your iPhone for social good
In March, Apple announced the creation of Liam, a 29-arm robot with destructive tendencies. Specifically, Liam was designed to tear apart your iPhone into recyclable and reusable parts with impressive precision.
Liam can disassemble an iPhone in just 11 seconds, sorting basic parts into pieces that can be sold, recycled or reused. One Liam device can disassemble about 1.2 million iPhones over the course of a year.
Mass distribution of the machines to Apple locations are in the works as part of the company’s environmental responsibility commitment.
13. The edible utensils that can replace plastic cutlery
Thanks to Indian company Bakeys, you can now have your spoon and eat it, too.
The company created edible spoons made of rice, wheat or sorghum to help curb plastic waste. The cutlery, which has a shelf life of two years, comes in flavored varieties such as ginger-garlic and cumin. The spoons can even hold hot liquids, like soup, without dissolving.
The company launched a Kickstarter campaign in early 2016 to raise money for distribution in communities throughout India, raising nearly $150,000.
14. Sidewalk traffic lights for those glued to their phones
Let’s face it: You simply can’t be trusted to peel your eyes away from your phone even when crossing the street.
That’s why German public transportation provider Stadtwerke Augsburg embedded traffic lights in some city crosswalks around the country in April. The company hopes the new lights will help tech-focused pedestrians to cross streets safety even if they refuse to look up.
15. The futuristic elevated bus hoping to curb pollution
In May, China’s top engineers unveiled a prototype of a massive bus that hovers over cars on the road. The innovation which was created to maximize road space, cut down on traffic jams and decrease pollution quickly went viral for its show-stopping design.
The electric-powered Transit Elevated Bus operates on rails, giving it the ability to drive over cars on standard roads. Each vehicle can hold a staggering 1,200 passengers, and the impressive system is cheaper and faster to build than existing public transport options.
However, with some design and safety barriers still in the way, the innovation still has a long way to go before hitting city streets.
16. The simple Zika test that is revolutionizing diagnoses
The Zika epidemic, which spanned 2015 to 2016, had the world on edge and researchers frantically working toward solutions. One innovation to come out of the outbreak was a low-cost Zika test created by MIT researchers.
While traditional tests may take days, MIT researchers announced the new creation that takes only three hours. The paper-based test features a series of purple dots that turn yellow when exposed to blood samples containing the virus. And it only costs $1.
17. The robotic utensils helping people with disabilities eat independently
New robotic utensils are helping people with limited mobility regain mealtime independence.
The line, called Liftware, features two utensils individually designed to help with hand tremors, limited reach and other mobility conditions. And it’s all through high-tech sensors, computers and motors that fit into a tiny spoon.
The utensils can be used with spoon or fork attachments, and were designed specifically for those living with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and post-stroke mobility issues.
18. The system helping refugees pay for food with a blink of an eye
The United Nations World Food Programme, which addresses food needs of refugee populations, launched a new system in February that uses iris scans to distribute food assistance to Syrian refugees.
The system simply requires scanning the eyes of refugees at checkout while shopping for groceries. Used in several refugee camps in Jordan, the scanning system provides greater safety and security than standard electronic payment cards, which can easily be lost, stolen or misused.
19. The Facebook tool helping users connect during disasters
In the aftermath of a disaster, finding food, water and shelter can be incredibly difficult, especially for low-income communities.
A Facebook tool called Community Help, which was announced at the Facebook Social Good Forum in November, hopes to close these gaps by connecting those in need to essentials like food, water, transportation and shelter. The new feature will pop up after a user checks in as “safe” through Safety Check, allowing users in the area to connect with others who are offering or looking for help after a disaster.
The feature will officially roll out to Facebook users in January 2017.
20. A sturdy condom that refuses to rip
LELO HEX condoms are upping the safer sex game by providing stronger, more durable condoms with less risk of tears.
The condom which has been seven years in the making uses a hexagonal pattern to mold to the wearer, withstanding more stress and friction than traditional condoms. The inventors hope it will provide wearers with a more secure, more pleasurable option for contraception.
21. An ingenious no-electricity cooler made with plastic bottles
Do you have a few plastic bottles lying around? Then you can make an air conditioner really.
Eco-Cooler is a low-cost cooling system designed for developing regions. It’s constructed from halved plastic bottles inserted into a grid-like board, which is then installed in a hut like a window pane.
Each bottle’s neck collects and compresses air from hot breezes, cooling it down dramatically. The innovation can drop temperatures inside a hut as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Several rural communities in Bangladesh have already implemented the system, which is an eco-friendly solution for communities lacking electrical access.
Moderate alcohol consumption can impair cognitive function, says study, countering suggestions that low levels of drinking can help protect the brain
Drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol can damage the brain and impair cognitive function over time, researchers have claimed.
While heavy drinking has previously been linked to memory problems and dementia, previous studies have suggested low levels of drinking could help protect the brain. But the new study pushes back against the notion of such benefits.
We knew that drinking heavily for long periods of time was bad for brain health, but we didnt know at these levels, said Anya Topiwala, a clinical lecturer in old age psychiatry at the University of Oxford and co-author of the research.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, researchers from the University of Oxford and University College London, describe how they followed the alcohol intake and cognitive performance of 550 men and women over 30 years from 1985. At the end of the study the team took MRI scans of the participants brains.
None of the participants were deemed to have an alcohol dependence, but levels of drinking varied. After excluding 23 participants due to gaps in data or other issues, the team looked at participants alcohol intake as well as their performance on various cognitive tasks, as measured at six points over the 30 year period.
The team also looked at the structure of the participants brains, as shown by the MRI scan, including the structure of the white matter and the state of the hippocampus a seahorse-shaped area of the brain associated with memory.
After taking into account a host of other factors including age, sex, social activity and education, the team found that those who reported higher levels of drinking were more often found to have a shrunken hippocampus, with the effect greater for the right side of the brain.
While 35% of those who didnt drink were found to have shrinkage on the right side of the hippocampus, the figure was 65% for those who drank on average between 14 and 21 units a week, and 77% for those who drank 30 or more units a week.
The structure of white matter was also linked to how much individuals drank. The big fibre tracts in the brain are cabled like electrical wire and the insulation, if you like, on those wires was of a poorer quality in people who were drinking more, said Topiwala.
In addition, those who drank more were found to fare worse on a test of lexical fluency. [That] is where you ask somebody to name as many words as they can within a minute beginning with a certain letter, said Topiwala. People who drank between seven and 14 units a week were found to have 14% greater reduction in their performance on the task over 30 years, compared to those who drank just one or fewer units a week.
By contrast, no effects were found for other tasks such as word recall or those in which participants were asked to come up with words in a particular category, such as animals.
Expert reaction to the the study was mixed. While Elizabeth Coulthard, consultant senior lecturer in dementia neurology at the University of Bristol, described the research as robust, she cautioned that as the study was observational, it does not prove that alcohol was causing the damage to the brain.
In addition, the majority of the studys participants were men, while reports of alcohol consumption are often inaccurate with people underestimating how much they drink an effect that could have exaggerated the apparent impact of moderate amounts of alcohol.
Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimers Society said that the new research did not imply that individuals should necessarily turn teetotal, instead stressing that it was important to stick to recommended guidelines.
In 2016, the Department of Health introduced new alcohol guidelines in the UK, recommending that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week the equivalent of about six pints of beer or seven 175ml glasses of wine.
Although this research gives useful insight into the long-term effects that drinking alcohol may have on the brain, it does not show that moderate alcohol intake causes cognitive decline. However, the findings do contradict a common belief that a glass of red wine or champagne a day can protect against damage to the brain, said Brown.
The singer-songwriters romance and breakup with Stills inspired classic songs including Suite: Judy Blue Eyes. Almost 50 years on, they are releasing an album and touring together
Nearly five decades ago, Judy Collins and Stephen Stills sparked a romance that was passionate and volatile enough to enter rock’n’roll lore. Their private connection became public after Stills, rejected by Collins, put his pining into classic songs such as Suite: Judy Blue Eyes and Helplessly Hoping, both of which turned up on the first Crosby Stills and Nash album in 1969. Three years later, Stills recorded another piece about their relationship, So Begins the Task, which addressed the hard labour of accepting rejection. Collins recorded and released her own version of that song less than 12 months later. Then, in 1975, Collins wrote Houses, which finds her haunting the places Stills resides in without her.
That dense knot of history adds delicious context to a current joint tour for the two stars, which recently made a stop at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury on New York’s Long Island. Throughout the night, Collins and Stills meet each other’s eyes with easy empathy, reflecting the sweet kinship they struck and maintained after their romance ended.
“The reason we stayed friends all these years is because we married other people,” Stills says from the Westbury stage. “In fact, Stephen married several other people,” Collins adds.
This rapport has not only resulted in this tour but in their first joint album, Everybody Knows, whose title cheekily refers to their famous liaison. Both the show and the album feature the same clear subtext: friendship trumps romance.
If you want to feel a little more like you’re in Westeros when you watch Game of Thrones, you sit in a chair that kind of looks like the Iron Throne, you turn the AC up (to make it feel like winter … other people do that too, right?) and of course, you drink wine.
And now, you can drink wine specially branded for your GoT viewing experience.
HBO and Vintage Wine Estates have partnered up to bring you a line of Game of Thrones wines, which includes a Chardonnay, a red blend and a reserve-style Cabernet Sauvignon. The line will be available in Spring 2017.
“Any fan of Game of Thrones appreciates the role wine plays in the saga, Pat Roney, the president and CEO of Vintage Wine Estates, said in a statement. We are very excited to partner with HBO to give those fans some delicious wines to sip as they plot their own paths to the Iron Throne.
This wine is the least HBO can give us, since Game of Thrones is starting to near its end.
Given the prominent role of wine on Game of Thrones and our previous success in the beverage category, an officially licensed wine for the show feels like a natural extension for our fans, said Jeff Peters, director of licensing and retail for HBO. Game of Thrones wines most definitely will add to the fan experience as the battle for the Iron Throne heats up heading into the final seasons.”
If you think you might have heard of Thrones alcohol before, you’re not wrong.
In 2014, HBO partnered with Brewery Ommegang to launch Game of Thrones beer. That same year, an Australian company released unofficial GoT wines called although their website now appears to be defunct.
Game of ThronesCabernet Sauvignon
Game of ThronesChardonnay
Game of ThronesRed Wine
Game of Throneswines will be available nationally in 750ml bottles in Spring 2017. Suggested retail price forGame of ThronesChardonnay andGame of ThronesRed Wine is $19.99, and Game of ThronesCabernet Sauvignon is $39.99.
BONUS: ‘Game of Thrones’ fans think this cast photo could mean a huge Season 7 reunion
Three massive beauties — including a new world’s largest cruise ship — aimed at those who like their cruises with a heavy dose of thrills are set to shake up the industry in 2016.
Prefer opulence to amusement?
Good news: The new year also belongs to those who seek the ultimate in indulgent cruising.
And then there are the ships that offer a little of both.
We’ve covered them all in this round up of the hottest new ships setting sail in 2016.
Today’s megaships are offering bigger and better thrill rides and Carnival Vista is no exception.
Its SkyRide — invented by the same guy who came up with Rollerblades in the 1980s — will be the cruise industry’s “first pedal-powered, aerial attraction.”
Guests pedal two side-by-side pods on an 800-foot track (244 meters), some 20 to 40 feet above the highest ship deck.
Carnival Vista’s water park will feature the new 455-foot Kaleid-O-Slide — a rainbow-colored drop that gives riders a psychedelic vibe, while the ship will also have the first ever IMAX Theater at sea.
Beer lovers will dig the handcrafted beers brewed each day in the RedFrog Pub’s microbrewery. Five tables have their own taps, allowing guests to refill as required.
Suites in the families-only lounge will sleep up to five, while parents can drop off kids under 12 at Camp Ocean and head for the aptly titled Serenity Adult-Only Retreat.
The Carnival Vista launches in May 2016 in the Mediterranean then will homeport in Miami, Florida.
Holland America’s ms Koningsdam
Love live music? Then the ms Koningsdam is your ride.
This ship’s “Music Walk” will offer three different stages.
World-class musicians from the Lincoln Center Stage will perform nightly thanks to the ship’s partnership with the famed performing venue.
Live musicians will rock the crowd with cover hits while the B.B. King’s Blues Club is set to deliver a Memphis sound at sea.
Aside from live tunes, the ship’s top deck is home to a stunning pool with fountains and three whirlpools.
A spa features thermal pools, heated ceramic lounges and treatment rooms with sea views.
The ms Koningsdam also promises exquisite garden-to-table cuisine (thanks to its glass-enclosed growing space) and offers several upscale suite choices — including family units that sleep five.
The ms Koningsdam, which will hold about 2,650 guests, departs Italy in April 2016 and will sail the Mediterranean.
In November 2016 she homeports in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
This all-suite, all-balcony ship will have six world-class restaurants, opulent suites, a two-story theater featuring Broadway-style productions and a Canyon Ranch SpaClub.
Known for being inclusive, airfare, alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and spirits), shore excursions, Wi-Fi, gratuities and more — depending on your suite package — are wrapped into the initial fare.
The Seven Seas Explorer leaves Monte Carlo in July 2016 for Venice and arrives in Miami in December 2016.
This floating full-service resort will then make two round-trip cruises from Miami to the Caribbean before heading through the Panama Canal.
Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
Stretching 1,187 feet, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas will soon be the largest ship sailing the globe.
The Harmony’s dining choices are vast, with the ship featuring 20 restaurants and seven “neighborhoods.”
Along with towering water slides are water cannons, a drench bucket, multi-platform jungle gym, two climbing walls, a zip line and ice-skating rink.
It also has a lavish spa and fitness center and age-appropriate camps for the kids.
The ship, which will hold 5,479 passengers, launches in April 2016 and will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas
The Ovation of the Seas will become the third ship in Royal Caribbean’s action-packed Quantum class to sail our planet.
The ship will feature the wildly innovative inside cabins with “virtual balconies” that use high definition flat screens that replicate the look of an actual veranda.
External cameras provide real-time views giving interior-cabin passengers the sights and sounds of an actual balcony experience.
As for the ship itself, it offers 2,090 staterooms and holds about 4,180 passengers.
Kids will be drawn to the excitement of the FlowRider surf simulator, a towering rock-climbing wall, indoor roller skating and skydiving simulator RipCord by iFLY.
The Ovation will also have a North Star gondola propelling guests 300 feet above the ocean in a glass capsule.
The ship launches in April 2016 and will homeport in Tianjin, China and Sydney, Australia.
Carrying just 600 guests, this 12-level ship will have 300 opulent suites (each with a private veranda) and will visit ports tucked away in tight spots the big ships can’t access.
Gourmet dining is a given and open bars will be sprinkled throughout the ship.
The Grand Salon is a stunning space that will be the setting for Seabourn’s guest speaker series, Seabourn Conversations (think big-deal movers-and-shakers), as well as cooking demos, comedy acts, classical recitals and more.
Evenings are for dancing as vocal and cabaret performances take center stage.
For those in need of some gambling action, every night the Seabourn Encore’s The Club transforms into an intimate full casino with slot machines, blackjack and roulette tables.
The Seabourn Encore begins sailing in December 2016, making its way through Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Once only serving river cruise enthusiasts, Viking has embraced ocean travel with its new line of luxury ocean vessels. In 2016, the Viking Sea will join the Viking Star.
The ship is glamorous and cozy in equal parts.
Each suite will have a king-sized bed, a generously sized veranda, a mini-bar replenished daily and luxury robes and slippers.
Nice touches include a bottle of welcome champagne, in-suite binoculars and complimentary laundry services.
The main theater features live performances that delve deep into the destination’s culture.
Guests will get to watch films in two movie theaters that show first-run films as well as destination-driven classics. A unique (and mellow) space called the Wintergarden is set to offer afternoon tea service.
Viking Sea is scheduled to sail in April 2016 from Istanbul and will continuously circle Europe.
The first ship to serve the German market on a year-round basis, AIDAprima will become the largest ship in the AIDA line when it starts cruising in April 2016.
It has 1,643 cabins — half offering private verandas.
Thrills come in the form of one of the longest water slides at sea, rock climbing and a Hawaiian-style “beach club” under an expandable, transparent dome.
Tux-code? Not at this party.
AIDAprima keeps it casual with no formal dress requirements and (mainly) open seat dining.
There will be 13 restaurants on board including buffets, a steakhouse and an Italian venue.
The stunning three-level Theatrium will feature an impressive circular stage with LED technology and an interactive floating globe.
Kids’ play areas cater to four different age groups.
The AIDAprima will homeport in Hamburg, Germany and offer Western Europe itineraries.