The Best Inventions of 2021
November 10, 2021 6:08 AM EST

Everything from houses to pharmaceuticals can now be 3-D-printed, but the inventors behind Illusory Material are aiming even higher—their goal is “to create things that were previously impossible to bring into the physical world,” says co-founder Honghao Deng, who helped develop the technology last year alongside co-founder Jiani Zeng. Illusory’s device prints colors and patterns beneath a layer of tiny digital lenses that cause a material’s appearance to change based on the viewing angle—think hard materials that appear soft, or “blank” packaging that only displays information about the contents when picked up. The tech, Deng says, could be used to create innovative apparel, medical braces and more. —Simmone Shah

Update, November 12

This story has been updated.

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