Year in Review: 2013 Innovations

By Victoria Craig
Published December 26, 2013

Plastic Bottles Repurposed

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) teamed up with Coca-Cola (NYSE:K) to take those everyday plastic beverage bottles and repurpose them as fabric for car interiors.

The new fiber, which is already used in 60% of Coke’s global packaging worldwide, is now woven into auto-grade fabric, which Ford then uses for car seats and floors of its Ford Fusion Energi electric vehicle.

But don’t expect to see it on a showroom floor anytime soon. The new fabric is so far only used in a prototype demonstration model that was shown off at the LA Auto Show.

Confirmation of Higgs Boson

A 50-year quest came to an end this year when scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research confirmed they discovered “The God Particle,” an elusive subatomic particle that helps explain why matter has mass, and proves many theories in physics.

The particle’s existence was a theory derived in 1964 by British physicist Peter Higgs to help solve matters like how the Big Bang created the universe billions of years ago.

The discovery was due in part to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, at a cost of $10 billion. It’s a 17-mile tunnel that produces a surge of energy that smashes protons together to help better understand how the Big Bang happened, among other topics in physics. 

Google Glass

The search giant changed the way people look at the world when it introduced Glass, a new technology that looks like eyeglasses but works like a wearable computer.

Through voice commands and directions given through eye blinks, Glass can take pictures, record audio, give directions, and more.

But the new fashionwear isn’t fully mainstream yet. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) accepts applications for people to try it out and help improve the technology. They call these early adaptors “Glass explorers.”

Smart Watches

Google isn't the only one working to integrate technology into the wardrobe. Tech companies like Sony (NYSE:SNE), and Samsung are getting in on the trend by introducing wearable wristwatch technologies.

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) jumped on the smart watch bandwagon this year when it introduced Toq. The new watch allows those who wear it to see weather forecasts, check stocks, even make phone calls and send text messages – all  from a tiny, wearable display.

Self-Driving Cars

It’s almost a scene out of the 60’s TV show The Jetsons…and it’s coming to a roadway near you.


Audi and Toyota (NYSE:TM) unveiled models of their self-driving cars at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year.

While not ready for mass-consumption or purchase, the vehicles are beginning to scratch the surface of the future of roadway transportation. With the help of cameras, lasers, sensors and WiFi on the body of the vehicles, they can navigate parking garages, and even park themselves without much human intervention.

DNA Sequencing

The questions parents-to-be ask their doctors are about to become more sophisticated than: Is it a boy, or a girl?

That’s thanks to Verinata, a new startup’s ability to sequence a human fetus’ DNA before birth. It’s one of only four U.S. companies involved in the market for prenatal testing using Illumina’s (NASDAQ:ILMN) DNA sequencing machines. The testing, which uses a syringe-full of the mother’s blood, can be used alongside more traditional screenings like amniocentesis and ultrasounds.