-- Finalists in the areas of biochemistry, communications, nutrition and medical technology have been selected by the European Patent Office, a public international organization, for this year's European Inventor Award.
Hailing from 13 countries, the 15 finalists were selected by an independent international jury. Four hundred individuals applied.
Members of the public are now invited to nominate an inventor, and winners from each category will be announced at an award ceremony in Lisbon on June 9.
Here are this year's 15 finalists:
1. Gluten substitutes from corn:
"Italian scientists Virna Cerne, Ombretta Polenghi and their team at Dr. Schär SPA in Italy are at the forefront of gluten-free baked goods development, producing an array of pastas and baked goods that allow people with gluten intolerance to enjoy a versatile diet without compromising their dietary restrictions. The unique selling point of the company's food products is the quality of the dough used to make them," according to the EPO.
2. Magnetic particle imaging for medical diagnostics:
"The invention of a new medical diagnostic method known as magnetic particle imaging by German physicists Bernhard Gleich and Jürgen Weizenecker at Philips Research Laboratory in Hamburg promises to enable doctors to obtain instant, three-dimensional images of soft tissue complications, including cancers and vascular diseases," according to the EPO.
3. Secure smart-card encryption:
"Joan Daemen, Pierre-Yvan Liardet and their team of Belgian and French cryptographers pioneered double-key smart-card encryption, a process for making smart-card networks more secure, by encrypting master cards with a security algorithm that ensures they can never be used to clone or gain access to recipient cards at a later time," according to the EPO.
4. Treatment for Parkinson's disease:
"The invention by French neurosurgeon and physicist Alim-Louis Benabid of high-frequency deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease and other neurological conditions has allowed patients around the world to resume functional and fulfilling lives without the need for radical surgeries. The treatment is administered via an electric probe permanently implanted inside the brain, similar to a pacemaker for cardiovascular complications," according to the EPO.
5. Paper-based microchips:
"The invention of paper-based transistors by Portuguese scientist Elvira Fortunato and Rodrigo Martins at the New University of Lisbon offers a cost-saving and energy-efficient alternative to silicon chips. Applications in daily life include biosensors, 'smart' product packaging, networked shipping labels and animated billboards," according to the EPO.
6. Rolling fluid turbine:
"A novel hydropower turbine invented by Czech civil engineer Miroslav Sedlácek at the Czech Technical University in Prague unlocks potential for electricity generation from waterways with low velocity such as brooks and small streams, thereby opening up a wide range of previously unexplored sources of sustainable energy," according to the EPO.
7. Ammonia storage to reduce NOx:
"A team of Danish researchers developed a method for storing ammonia in solid form by binding it with a compacted metallic salt. Their innovation opens up possibilities for the energy-rich chemical to be used as a safe hydrogen source for fuel cells and hydrogen-powered cars. More importantly, it can be employed as part of systems that remove as much as 99% of the mono-nitrogen oxides from diesel engine exhaust," according to the EPO.
8. Ultrasound to safely measure brain pressure:
9. Diagnostic kits for developing countries:
10. Targeted anti-cancer:
"American chemical engineer Robert Langer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has pioneered a new therapeutic approach to fighting cancer by encapsulating anti-cancer drugs within biodegradable plastics. As angiogenesis inhibitors lose their efficacy when injected into the blood stream, Langer took a different approach. He coated the drugs with wafer-shaped "bio plastics", implanted at the actual tumour site, ensuring the drugs release their payload with maximum impact," according to the EPO.
11. Faster wireless technology:
"Indian-American inventor Arogyaswami Paulraj and a team of researchers at Stanford University are the pioneers behind MIMO, a novel idea that dramatically improves the performance of cellular networks and wireless modems. The innovation enables higher rates of data transmission for digital LTE and Wi-Fi, and significantly expands signal coverage," according to the EPO.
12. Biomechatronic leg joints:
"The invention of "bionic" knee and ankle prostheses by American biophysicist Hugh Herr at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) enables amputees to walk with a fluid, natural gait thanks to a combination of microprocessors and adaptive impact dampening based on posture and weight distribution. Results were achieved by mimicking the knee's adaptive response to pressure and weight through a magnetic dampening liquid, activated by feedback from sensors placed inside the prosthesis," according to the EPO.
13. Helping newborn babies breathe:
"The invention of pulmonary surfactants by Swedish laboratory physician Tore Curstedt at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm marked a milestone in saving the lives of early-born infants suffering from respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), a lung condition that was the leading cause of death among newborns for decades," according to the EPO.
14. Electronic stability control for cars:
"The world's roads and motorways are much safer thanks to inventions by automotive engineer Anton van Zanten. His breakthrough achievement, the electronic stability control system, is now mandatory in a number of countries, and is second only to the seatbelt in saving lives in car crashes," according to the EPO.
15. Implantable artificial heart:
"Alain Carpentier, perhaps the world's most renowned cardiologist, not only pioneered novel methods for repairing faulty hearts, he found a way to replace them. The 82-year-old French heart surgeon invented the Carmat heart, the world's first fully implantable, self-regulating heart. Unlike similar prosthetics, Carpentier's device mimics the heart's natural physiology, adjusting the volume of blood it pumps depending on whether its recipient is active or resting," according to the EPO.