Features  Published 12/30/11 4:09pm

Best Of 2011: Pennovations & Startups

This year brought us a whole host of Penn startups, creations and innovations. To avoid any information overload, we break them down for you here by category, with our two top picks in each.

FOOD: These two Penn projects put the "nom" in Economy. Pocket Grill: This little guy is a great conversation piece for any camping trip. Arguably more important, it's also a great cooking piece for any camping trip. ?Wave: This PennApps hack champ is a microwave that plays YouTube videos. If you're listening to dubstep, though, it's basically just a regular microwave then. ENGINEERING: In between complaining about their midterms and posting on LikeALittle, these kids actually turn out some impressive stuff. Penn GRASP Labs: What hasn't this Penngineering robotics department done in the past year? Thanks to these folks, robots will soon be stealing thousands of jobs from real Amurricans, ranging from baseball pitching and soccer playing, to pooper-scooping and housekeeping. (And for that matter, what will Olga and Consuela do?) uBeam: Developed by two College grads (gasp!), this ultrasound remote charging device has been making headlines all over the place, even earning one of its founders a mention in Forbes.

ONLINE: It's where we spend 90% of our time, so why not make it enjoyable? Coursekit: This startup created by three Penn dropouts (we mean it in the most endearing, Bill Gates way) promises to be the Facebook to Blackboard's Myspace. Smartling: This fun app lets you give Babelfish a rest while it translates webpages for you. Wonder if its technology can also be applied to the Language Requirement...

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Who says business is just about making money? Kinecthesia: These Penn hacks reprogrammed a Windows Kinect and made it into a trendy belt to help allow the blind to navigate. And then spoke to Chelsea Clinton about it! Warby Parker: This eyewear company is on a mission to not only sell glasses on the cheap, but also to distribute free pairs to those who can't afford 'em. [Insert puns about vision and foresight.]

FASHION: It's what happens when you don't shop at Urban. Wantworthy: This site compiles all your fave online shopping picks in one neat homepage and gives you something to do during class. Un-Buttoned: This Penn apparel company, operated by five students, promotes sustainability, social responsibility, and duh, fashion! Watch out, Forever 21.

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