Four Centuries of Innovation: From Mass to the World, a new and recently updated exhibit at Boston’s Logan International Airport, underscores the wide-spread recognition that Massachusetts is the most innovative state in the nation.
The telephone and the microwave oven were born here. The first human organ transplant, too. And Massachusetts was the first state with marriage equality, not to mention being the home of the chocolate chip cookie, and Apple’s Siri. The list of firsts is enormous, and few states can come close.
The most truly significant of these, from a list of nearly 500 very remarkable Mass Innovations that changed the nation or the world, are profiled in a permanent exhibit sponsored by Massport in the busy walkway between Terminal C (Jet Blue) and Terminal E, (international flights). The exhibit opened last November and, in an effort to keep the exhibit vibrant, current, and compelling, seven new panels were recently added for a total of 56 unique Massachusetts innovations.
One of the important insights which we keep hearing from visitors who see the exhibit is that the breakthroughs made here are not largely from a single sector, as might be the case in an industry based city such as Detroit.
With their amazing diversity, the most recent seven of our top innovations, clearly illustrates this point:
• The healthcare sector –Three-Dimensional Breast imaging instruments have played a large role in ensuring much earlier and more effective cancer treatment, and saved so many lives.
• Software – “Automatic word completion” helps people communicate so much faster than always typing every character whether you love it or hate it, especially on smaller, mobile devices.
• Planning and Environment — At Revere Beach the concept of a pristine beach, open to all, was first modeled more than a century ago. Located just a few miles from the center of Boston, it influenced the creation of similar shoreline reservations and parks across the nation.
• Romance & Sweets — The invention of the first machine to make hard candy (1847) combined with a bit of whimsical humor to create the much-loved Valentine “sweetheart.” Billions of these tiny candies have earned a place in popular culture that has not been relinquished in more than 150 years.
• Information Tech – a reading machine engineered by Ray Kurzweil which could read almost any printed text and translate it into sound, empowered visually impaired people and accelerated the general adoption of advanced character recognition, scanners, and modern voice technology.
• Travel and Tourism –Tripadvisor started with a simple concept: ask people to give their own opinions about hotels, destinations, transportation services, and more. Thanks to rapid growth – they now get input from half billion people a year – Tripadvisor has become a powerful and indispensable service.
Whether it is using technology to fight cancer or helping the visually-impaired, creating new models for public beaches or sharing travel information, Massachusetts is proud of its innovation traditions that benefit so many people around the world.
Four Hundred Years of Innovation reminds us how people with ideas, vision, and energy – even in a relatively small state such as Massachusetts – can make a very big difference in transforming and improving life for everyone everywhere.
Check out the exhibit the next time you pass through Terminal C and Terminal E at Logan International Airport.