When soldiers speak certain phrases into an attached headset, the Voice Response Translator from Integrated Wave Technologies issues prerecorded translated messages. It is programmed with 350 military phrases in 50 languages. For instance, if a soldier says, "Freeze for search," the device will speak, in the designated language, "Stop. Spread your hands above your head. Do not move, or the soldiers will kill you." CEO John Hall, who helped develop Seiko's first electronic watch, created the $3,000 device. About 6,000 are in use right now, most of them in Iraq. This version, with an attached megaphone, is typically used by the Coast Guard.
Hint: That's A Bullet Hole
Hardwire developed this material as heavy-duty armor for military vehicles. It includes the company's namesake, a patented weave of steel wires that CEO George Tunis, a mechanical engineer, developed in his garage. The woven steel is lighter and more than 13 times stronger than structural steel. This sample, from an earlier version of the armor, held up against an armor-piercing bullet. The current version, which is being used on U.S. military vehicles in Iraq, also withstands blasts from IEDs.
Hint: You Can Feel It Work
This rear-suspension coilover shock, which helps smooth out bumpy rides, can support a load of up to 15,000 pounds and is designed to withstand up to 150,000 miles of bumps and potholes. Piston Automotive, which handles just-in-time assembly of car parts for automotive companies, put together the shock module for Ford (NASDAQ:FORD) Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.
Hint: It Goes On The Roof
Aim this 39-inch-long antenna at a tower up to 50 miles away, and it will pick up digital and analog television signals in the UHF band, which includes channels 14 to 69. One of 22 television antennas made by Antennas Direct, this model is based on a traditional Yagi-Uda design, which was developed by Japanese scientists in 1926. The antenna, which sells for $69, is constructed of anodized aluminum to prevent corrosion and is designed to withstand strong winds.
Hint: It's For Babies
The Splash drying rack from Skip Hop holds nine baby bottles and a scrubbing brush -- and looks good doing it. The rotating rack, made of ABS plastic, is 10 inches in diameter and takes up about half as much space as traditional racks. The company hired Scott Henderson, who has developed products for OXO and Cuisinart, to design it. Last year, Skip Hop sold 50,000 of these for $28 each.
Hint: It Will Steer You Right
This 28-inch bronze propeller, part of a tunnel thruster from Thrustmaster of Texas, fits into a tunnel in a ship's hull. When the propeller spins, the ship moves to the side. Thrusters are used to maneuver large craft: Navy ships, cargo ships, and oil-drilling ships. Smaller thrusters go for as little as $10,000 and take a few weeks to build. The company's largest thrusters measure 60 feet long, weigh 100 tons, sell for $2.5 million, and take three years to build.