longacre writes "While some giggles were floating around about the irony of a Microsoft product (Photosynth) finding itself on the same top 10 products list as a toilet, the true stars of last night's annual Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards were innovations of far more consequence. MIT professor Amy B. Smith won the marquis Leadership Award for her work on building simple, low-cost technology to help developing countries. Joining Smith from the appropriate technology field were a group of CalTech students who created all-terrain wheelchairs for the disabled, and a Procter & Gamble exec who developed a water purifying powder for the third world. Aptera Vehicles founders Steve Ambro and Chris Anthony made the cut for their 300mpg Typ-1e, which is expected to hit showrooms by the end of this year. Other winners ranged from the Mars Phoenix Lander team, to the developers of a low-cost cancer test, to the creators of Spore."
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