2013's Biggest Tech Moments

Sensor-y Overload
MiniMAX takes X-rays out of the hospital and into the field. © Copyright 2011 Los Alamos National Security, LLC. All rights reserved.

Do you get the feeling that we're being watched? Between Google Glass, camera phones, webcams, Kinect in our homes and drones in the sky, it's not surprising, but some of the new breed of portable sensors might just save your life.

To address the gaps left by fiber optic cameras and bulky robots, Bounce Imaging is developing the Explorer, a throwable, baseball-sized camera cluster that can transmit panoramic images of wherever it lands. The device will provide soldiers, police, firefighters, and search-and-rescue teams with valuable information and keep them out of unnecessary danger. Bounce could adapt future versions to carry chemical or radiation sensors [sources: Bounce Imaging; Popular Science].

Whomever those first-responders and medics rescue will need prompt medical attention. Luckily, Los Alamos National Laboratory has created the MiniMAX, a portable X-ray that lives up to its name. About the size of a digital single lens camera with an extra wide lens (plus some foot-wide flat bits), MiniMAX weighs 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) and runs on a 9-volt battery, making it ideal for field use [source: Los Alamos National Laboratory].