Time Magazine recognized two Oregon inventions among top 2014 innovations. The list celebrated 25 concepts, including the Portland-based Coolest Cooler and Snake River Correctional Institution’s “Blue Room.”

University of Utah researchers partnered with the Intensive Management Unit of Oregon’s largest prison to provide something troubled inmates often lacked: peace and calm.

The “Blue Room” is an isolated room which plays video of calming natural imagery. The project allows inmates to view projections and listen to accompanying audio while relaxing alone.

The project’s designer Nalini Nadkarni studies nature’s affects on human behavior. Nadkarni told Time Magazine that the “Blue Room” calms prisoners “much in the way we walk through a park [to relax].”

Popular with inmates and prison guards alike, the facility plans to continue using the “Blue Room.”

The second Oregon invention focused on bringing friends and family together by drastically upgrading an everyday item. The result? The Coolest Cooler.

“We wanted the cooler to be a place where people gather—to have all the things that make a space somewhere you’d want to hang out,” inventor Ryan Grepper told Time Magazine.

Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, the Coolest Cooler impressed consumers this summer with multipurpose features ranging from a rechargeable blender to waterproof speakers. The project became the most funded Kickstarter campaign of all time.


When not writing, Sierra can be found conducting experiments in the chemistry lab or whipping up delectable creations in her kitchen. With a passion for storytelling, Sierra puts her natural curiosity to use investigating enlightening angles for news and events here at The Oregon Optimist.