TODAY   |  October 01, 2012

An inside look at breakthrough inventions of 2012

Glenn Derene of Popular Mechanics shares a few winners of the magazine’s annual breakthrough awards, including a printer that prints 3D products, like phone cases and jewelry, and a tire that self-regulates its pressure.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on today's tech, break through inventions of 2012 . he had tore of " popular mechanics " has the breakthrough awards. good morning, glen.

>> good morning.

>> wild stuff. starting off with first the cube 3-d printer. we're not talking about making copies here, right?

>> no, this is like your normal desk top printer, but in 3-d. it uses plastic to create models of things. you can take pictures of things and make 3-d cad models and prohibit them at home. and you can buy virtual products and print them at home.

>> so right now it's making an iphone cover, case, but these are all things it made. these napkin rings. these -- i guess ipod bracelets. and this is a cool toy.

>> yep, you can printout your kids' toys at home.

>> these 3-d printers used to be expensive. how does this compare pricing?

>> this is around $1,300. it sounds pricey, but compared to professional equipment, far, far less expensive. it's actually affordable for the homeowner, sort of --

>> if you want to make your own iphone case. it will cost you. let's move on over here to the latest from north face . it's the north face powder guide avs vest, for the back country skier, we heard about so much avalanche deaths last year, people skiing in the back country. how does this work, deploy?

>> so when avalanches are coming down, it's like liquid and you want to surf above it, stay above the liquid. so this is a vest that you can wear if you're in the back woods and when you pull the handle, it actually deploys like an air bag .

>> lindsey shows how this works, easy. stand back, she is going to deploy. go ahead.

>> whoa! that is wild. as quickly as that.

>> that could save your life.

>> amazing. save your life, exactly. great stuff by north face . okay. over here, i love the sound of this. this is a no-fail camera, from what i understand. if you take pictures and sometimes have those out of focus pictures, this will auto correct?

>> that's right. this is a lightro camera, light field camera , captures light from all directions which means you can focus after the fact. i can show with a picture we took earlier. this is of some "today" show mugs, and if you watch, you can actually jump back and forth with the focus, because all of the points have been captured.

>> okay. so the camera then -- if you take any picture, and it's out of focus, will it be able to fix any picture?

>> if can. because it's literally collecting the information from the furthest point away, all the way in close to the camera.

>> wow. so really is a no-fail camera.

>> it is.

>> okay. and the future of this technology, where do you see this going?

>> one of the interesting things, with this same camera and some software upgrades, they'll be able to do 3-d photography, as well, with just one lens.

>> wild. great stuff. over here, this is something that i love to hear. this is the good year air maintenance technology. a tire that self-regulates and maintains its own pressure.

>> that's right. u uses the rolling motion in the tire and a little tube as a pump and bursts of air to keep it inflated to the right pressure means you never have to go to the filling station again and fill up your tires.

>> a girl's dream right here. okay. and the tire world. over here to the robotic arm . tell me about this technology. this is fantastic.

>> so this is a arm that was pioneered at johns hopkins advanced physics -- applied physics lab and it has recently been used to literally tap into the brains of people who are paralyzed. so that they can with their minds control this hand.

>> so -- it's been tested and works? shake my hand, see how good that grip is. wow.

>> incredible, right?

>> impressive. yeah. this is a life-saver for a lot of people.

>> and in the future, they're hoping to put sensors on it so it can communicate feelings back to the brain, as well.

>> oh, wow. it is really amazing. glen durene, thank you so much with " popular mechanics ."

>> thank you.