Inventing the Future

Ann Makosinski has loved inventing things since she was a little girl, and now, at 19 years old, she has two award-winning inventions to her name – the Hollow Flashlight and the e-Drink.

Ann, from Victoria in Canada, came up with the idea for the Hollow Flashlight when she was 15, when a friend in the Philippines told her that she had failed school because she couldn’t afford electricity to study at night – a problem that is common in developing countries.

So Ann set to and, after months of experimenting, made a prototype flashlight using material that produces energy when one side is heated and the other side remains cool.

Warmed by the human hand, the Hollow Flashlight produces LED light for 20 minutes, and it resulted in awards for Ann in the 2013 Canada-wide Science Fair, the 2013 Google Science Fair and the 2014 International Science and Engineering Fair.


“Start now. There’s nothing holding you back.”


Now a second-year college student, Ann was inspired to create her second prize-winning invention, the e-Drink, by two situations she and her fellow students frequently encounter between classes – a mug of coffee too hot to drink and a flat cell phone.

With a bit of clever lateral thinking, Ann combined the two problems to use the heat from the cooling drink to charge a phone. The insulated mug has an internal battery which stores the heat energy and is able to extend an iPhone’s battery life by up to 30 minutes.

The e-Drink mug has attracted a lot of interest and recently won Ann a a $50,000 Quest Climate Grant. She was also recently awarded the Popular Science 2016 Young Inventor of the Year.

Ann has given five TEDx Talks – her latest was at TEDxTeen this January in London. She was named one of TIME Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and recently awarded in Vienna the same award that Obama received – the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award of Excellence. She also has a planet named after her.

Ann has appeared twice on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon presenting her inventions. She was on the premiere week of the show talking about the flashlight, and appeared for a second time on Jimmy’s show in October 2015, presenting the eDrink:

One really surprising thing about Ann is that she has never owned a smart phone, and only recently bought herself a flip phone so she could make long-distance calls to her family. Why? Well, let her tell you in her own words here.

Ann is currently writing a memoir about her experiences, and is hoping to encourage other young people to have a go at inventing. Her advice is: “Start now. There’s nothing holding you back.”

Follow Ann at
Site in Progress:


Rosalind Stirling