Forget fancy phones and gizmos, scientists are now hailing the humble paper clip to plastic holders for beer cans as the design classics that we cannot live without. From elastic bands to bubblewrap, experts have compiled a list of inventions that cost mere pennies but are a vital part of everyday life for billions of people.
They may not be as revered as the latest iPhone or as celebrated as the PC tablet but are just as much a 'genius' product and possibly more influential, they say.

The Hidden Heroes exhibition at the Science Museum from next month celebrates around 40 breakthrough inventions most people probably take for granted. The exhibition was devised by Hi-Cone, the little known manufacturers of the plastic ring carriers that hold six packs of beer or multiple packs of soft drinks.

Hi-Cone Director Ton Hoppenbrouwers said, "The objective of the Hi-Cone hidden heroes exhibition is to highlight the genius of everyday things and the remarkable technologies that sit behind the contents of kitchen drawers."

He added, "Whether the products hang our clothes, make tea or hold a six-pack, they are indispensible to consumers.  They are design classics which do their job brilliantly. Yes, they evolve to meet changing needs, but they do not change dramatically."

Inventions we can't live without
>> Pencil
>> Bubblewrap
>> Paperclip
>> Milk carton
>> Cable tie
>> Adhesive tape
>> First aid plaster
>> Egg carton
>> Ear plugs
>> Tissue
>> Zip
>> Barcode
>> Light bulb
>> Teabag
>> Elastic band
>> Coat hanger
>> Bottle cap