Australia is one of the most beloved places in the world. Who wouldn't want to live there? Ok, yes there are gangs of butt-kicking kangaroos, and massive spiders that greet you in your home with their possum dinner, but Australia is truly a unique place. The country/continent offers visitors spectacular weather, rich history, and unparalleled gastronomy.
However, Australians are also known for their resourcefulness and contributions to the rest of the world. Some of the most important devices that we use today were invented in Australia, changing everything from aeronautics to medicine.
As you probably guessed, today we are going to take a look at some of the most important inventions in Australian history and look at how we still use them today.
1. The electric drill
Your beloved DIY projects would be much harder with the electric drill. You can thank an Aussie for this invention. Back in 1889, Australian electrical engineer Arthur James and his colleagues patented their design for the world’s first electric drill. It was not as portable as what you might use today, but the drill was able to drill through rock and dig coal.
2. The bionic ear
Also known as the cochlear implant, the bionic ear would go on to change the lives of more than 180,000 deaf and partially deaf people worldwide. The first bionic ear was created by Professor Graeme Clark at Melbourne University in the 1970s, with the first one implanted in a person in 1978.
The devices are implanted into the head to electronically stimulate the auditory nerve. The idea came from Clark’s own experience with his father who suffered from hearing loss.
3. Spray-on skin
Like something out of a science fiction film, plastic surgeon Professor Fiona Wood, would go on to patent her ingenious new invention spray-on skin in 1999. Her invention would go on to save the lives of burn victims from the 2002 Bali bombings. The process works by taking a sample of a patient’s skin and using it to grow new skin cells in a laboratory. Then the new skin is simply sprayed on to the damaged area.
4. Google Maps
Now, this is a big one. Think about how much easier your life has become because of your access to Google Maps. Meetups, long trips, or simple trips to another city would be much less convenient. Australians Neil Gordon and Stephen Ma, as well as Danish brother Lars and Jens Rasmussen, created the platform for Google Maps in the early 2000s.
Their startup was called Where 2 Technologies and was bought by Google, allowing the team to go on and eventually work for Google.
5. Black box flight recorder
The invention of the black box flight recorder sent ripples across the realms of commercial air travel. Invented by Australian scientist Dr. David Warren, the idea was driven by the fact that he himself lost his father in an aircraft tragedy. The box is almost indestructible, installed in every commercial airline, and serves the purpose of recording the final moments in the event of a crash.
The overarching goal is to gain a better understanding of what led to a crash so that engineers can come in to improve the plane to ensure that it never happens again. It is also good to mention that the box is not in fact black but is colored international orange so that it can be easily identified.
6. Inflatable escape slide and raft
Speaking of airplanes, in 1965 an employee of the airline Qantas named Jack Grant would go on to invent the inflatable aircraft escape slide. Used in the case of an emergency when an aircraft lands on water, the slide and raft can now be found on every commercial airline in the skies right now.
7. The electronic pacemaker
Millions of people rely on the pacemaker to keep their hearts beating properly. The device was originally invented by Australian doctor Mark Lidwill and physicist Edgar Booth in the 1920s. The devices work by sending small electric charges into the heart to help maintain a regular beat. The invention was first used to revive a stillborn baby in 1928. Yet they were not implanted in the body until the 1960s.
8. Wi-Fi technology
Nowadays before people even say hi to you when they walk into your home, they ask you for a Wi-Fi password. In 1992 John O’ Sullivan and the CSIRO developed Wi-Fi technology, born out of research in the mid-1970s from the field of radio astronomy. The team was looking for the faint echoes black holes. Now Wi-Fi technology is used by billions of people around the world.
9. Ultrasound scanner
The Ultrasonics Research Section of the Commonwealth Acoustics Laboratories Branch, later to be shortened to the Ultrasonic Institute discovered a way to differentiate ultrasound echoes bouncing off soft tissue in the body and convert them into TV images. It was in 1976 when Ausonics commercialized the ultrasound scanner. The technology would go on to change prenatal care forever.
Ultrasound technology is also used in the diagnosis of medical problems of the breasts, abdomen and reproductive organs.