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Microscopic medicine? Electronic board games? These and more will soon be possible.
LAST WEEK, SUPER INTRODUCED five of the decade?s 10 coolest innovations: paper batteries, commercial space flight, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) wallpaper, gyroscopic gaming and pico projector phones. This week, we round them off.

6: Nanomedicine

Here?s something cool: tiny particles that medicate within your body at the prescribed time.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge developed nanoparticles that act as ?intelligent pills,? designed to target artery walls around the heart. Specifically, they attach to proteins that stick out of damaged artery walls, and are programmed to release tiny amounts of drugs into them over several weeks or months. Nanoparticles can also be used for tumors and inflammatory diseases.

There?s more. Professor Jin Zhang, a University of Western Ontario bioengineer, embedded nanoparticles onto contact lenses that react to glucose in tears. If you?re diabetic and producing too much glucose, the particles change the color of the lenses.

We?ll soon count on microscopic ?doctors? to heal us from the inside out.

Unveiling: Researchers expect ?at least two more years of research and development? on the time-release nanoparticles, before clinical testing starts. Zhang and company have yet to comment on commercial release.

7: ?Guilt-free? stem cells

Stem cells allow scientists to grow healthy tissue from them for various patients. The only hurdle is the political powder keg of harvesting embryonic stem cells. That could soon be moot.

Tokyo University geneticist Shinya Yakanama discovered how to change adult cells into stem cells. Using a chemical cocktail, Yakanama can trigger the transformation, which naturally occurs in lab rats when adult cells are fused with stem cells.

Australian researchers have also used stem cells to cure blindness. Stem cells are taken from the patient?s healthy eye, and coated on a contact lens which is placed on their blind eye. Patients reported eyesight return after two weeks.

The decade is looking to be the era of the stem cell?without questions of ethics or red tape.

Unveiling: Research has taken off since US President Barack Obama signed an executive order last March freeing federal funds for stem cell research. The contact lenses are already available as treatment in Australia.

8: 20-year light bulb

Don?t count out Thomas Edison?s baby just yet.

Panasonic and GeoBulb made light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that last 20 years. Panasonic?s can last up to 19 years, if used an average of five and a half hours per day. GeoBulb?s uses 7.5 watts, and lasts three years of continuous service; equivalent to 20 years at four hours per day.

Cost is a downside. A GeoBulb costs $119.95 while Panasonic?s is $40.00. Taking into account their environmental friendliness, the costs pay off in the long run.

Unveiling: Already available.

9: Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Two obstacles have kept these alternative energy sources from being realized.

Hydrogen fuel cells currently run on platinum catalysts, which are expensive. Also, today?s hydrogen is not as clean as once believed because it?s derived from fossil fuels. Researchers have overcome both limitations.

Jean-Pol Dodelet of the National Institute of Scientific Research in Quebec, Canada, developed iron-based catalysts, which are cheaper. Additionally, MIT chemist Daniel Nocera developed a catalyst that, when combined with a photovoltaic cell, splits water into oxygen and hydrogen using sunlight.

With these, hydrogen fuel cells step closer to becoming valid alternatives to fossil fuels.

Unveiling: Hydrogen fuel cell research continues to progress; they may go mainstream in the decade.

10: Electronic board games

Professor Roel Vertegaal and Mike Rooke, researchers at Queens University?s Human Media Lab in Ontario, Canada, have created something straight out of sci-fi. Using OLED hexagon tiles, an overhead camera and a projector, they brought tabletop game ?Settlers of Catan? to life. One tile displays a ship, and linking it to another tile magically moves the ship to the linked tile. Lifting a tile allows the ship to ?offload? troops onto another tile?s shore. Rotating a tile changes the orientation of a house in the tile.

It?s one application of bezel-less screens, the material used on the tiles. This makes exciting implications for board games; for one, making them truly immersive. Vertegaal says it?s about returning people to social interactions. ?We?re seeing kids sit inside with a screen...adults walking under buses...looking at...technology. This is about humanizing technology, getting people away from the screen. The importance is to have families sit around the board game again.?

Unveiling: 2015-2020. Calling it ?the future of board games,? Vertegaal expects electronic board games to market in five to 10 years.