The Wall Street Journal published their annual Technology Innovation awards. This year the Journal received 597 applications from companies, organizations and individuals in 30 countries. A panel from research institutions, venture-capital firms and other companies selected 49 awards according to three criteria:
- Does the innovation break with conventional ideas or processes in its field?
- Does it go beyond marginal improvements on something that already exists?
- Will it have a wide impact on future technology in its field or in other fields?
The first prizes in 17 categories highlight technology innovation trends globally:
Computing Systems: Lightfleet Corp, for a novel way of connecting computer processors, using beamed light instead of copper or fiber-optic wires. Lightfleet’s technology eliminates bottlenecks by replacing the wired switches typically used to manage these connections with a device that sends a data-carrying beam of light to all the nodes at once.
Consumer Electronics: Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institutem, was the winner of the overall Gold award for its work in developing high-quality displays made from materials that can be bent or folded.
E-Commerce: Receivables Exchange LLC, for an online marketplace where small and midsize businesses can auction their receivables. Smaller companies don’t have the same access to financial markets that their larger counterparts do, so it’s especially difficult for them to raise short-term working capital. Taking out a loan backed by receivables’”known as factoring’”is common in some industries.
Energy: InEnTec LLC, for a process that uses high-temperature plasma gasification to produce synthetic fuel from municipal and industrial waste. The technology offers a cleaner alternative to using incinerators to burn garbage.
Environment: NanoH2O Inc., for a nanotechnology-based reverse-osmosis membrane that promises to reduce the cost of running a typical desalination plant by as much as 25%.
Health-Care IT: Software called Connect, developed by more than 20 federal agencies led by a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for technology that enables health-care providers to exchange health information electronically.
Materials and Other Base Technologies: Novacem Ltd., for a new cement-making process that takes in more CO2 than it emits. The secret is using magnesium oxides instead of calcium carbonates, the main ingredient in Portland cement, the most common type.
Medical Devices: Zoom Focus Eyewear LLC, for eyeglasses that the wearer can manually adjust to give clear vision at any distance.
Medicine-Biotech: Counsyl Inc., for a genetic test for prospective parents.
Network/Internet Technologies/Broadband: Vidyo Inc., for its technology for delivering high-quality videoconferencing over the Internet or cellular networks at a fraction of the cost of dedicated “telepresence” systems.
Network Security: Symantec Corp., for a new way to head off malware’”viruses, worms, spyware, Trojan horses – threats: “reputation-based” technology that examines the usage patterns of millions of computers to spot dangers that traditional security products typically miss.
Physical Security: BriefCam Ltd., for a Video Synopsis, which enables a viewer to browse a day’s worth of recording in just a few minutes by creating a summary of all the activities captured by a camera.
Robotics: Liquid Robotics Inc., for developing an unmanned seagoing craft propelled by the power of ocean waves. Most unmanned ocean craft can remain at sea for only a short time, relying on batteries to power propellers or pumps. Thanks to its propulsion system, Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider avoids those limits.
Semiconductors: Visage Technologies Inc., for an image sensor for digital cameras that uses semiconducting nanocrystals to capture far more light than traditional sensors.
Software: Unity Technologies, for a set of game-development tools that make it cheap and easy to create three-dimensional interactive content, including games, training simulations and medical visualizations, for a range of devices from cellphones to game systems.
Technology Design: Gavin Thomson Design Ltd., for the design of a set of three saucepans that nest one inside the other. The largest pan snugly holds the next smaller pan, which holds the smallest one; each permanently attached handle rests inside the hollowed-out grip of the next larger pan, and the lids all fit on top.
Wireless: Ubiquisys Ltd., for a low-priced femtocell’”a small cellular base station for use indoors. Femtocells are designed to address two big, related problems: the poor cellphone coverage typically found inside a house, apartment or office building, and the growing congestion on cellular networks, aggravated by the explosion of data use on the latest smart phones.
Source: Wall Street Journal