Eight Innovators to Watch in 2015

From food science and robotics to solar tech and sustainable architecture, these folks are poised to do big things

(Clockwise from top left) Katrin Macmillan, Ashutosh Saxena, Richard Lunt and Horace Luke are hard at work on exciting new projects. (Projects for All; Cornell; G. L. Kohuth; Gogoro)
smithsonian.com

2014 was all about wearable technology, drones, 3D printing and smart home devices. If you want, you can now control your thermostat, lighting, security cameras, sprinkler system and more with a touch of your smartphone or tablet.

But what is in store for 2015? And who are the brains working on the next best things?

Meet eight innovators on the cusp of major breakthroughs.

David Benjamin

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(The Creators Project, YouTube)

This past summer, David Benjamin was recognized as emerging talent when the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) named his firm, The Living, winner of its 2014 Young Architects Program. From late June into early September, his installation, a tower called Hy-Fi made entirely of organic bricks, graced the courtyard at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City. Benjamin harnessed a living mushroom root called mycelium to form, along with chopped up cornstalks, the building blocks for the structure. Each brick took about five days to grow.

The project, he hopes, is a new model for sustainable architecture. The manufacturing of the bricks requires zero energy and emits almost no carbon dioxide, while making good use of agricultural waste. The designer is also commited to this idea of local architecture, having sourced all his materials within 150 miles from the installation site. After Hy-Fi's run, he composted the structure and scattered the remains in community gardens.

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