Bluetooth: What started as a way for wireless headsets to work with cellphones has evolved into the ubiquitous technology of our digital age, allowing all of our gadgets to talk to one another, share data, and stream audio.
But it's not just speakers, headphones, and pedometers any more. Bluetooth-powered products now encompass sophisticated smart home, automotive and medical devices, just to name a few. And it's precisely those sort of bleeding-edge wireless gadgets and applications that the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is seeking to recognize with the 2015 Bluetooth Breakthrough Awards. And for the first time, CNET is joining with the SIG as the exclusive media partner for the Awards.
Four award categories
The Awards highlight "the most innovative products and applications available today." Entries are available in four categories:
Product: This category is for hardware, and can include any product launched and available to buy in 2014.
App: Bluetooth software and applications available in calendar year 2014.
Prototype: This category applies to hardware or software in development but with a "workable prototype."
Student: Students actively enrolled high school, college, or post-graduate level are welcome to submit prototypes and concepts for this category.
Awards and prizes
The announcement of the Bluetooth Breakthrough Award finalists and winners coincide with the first two major industry events of the year. Finalists will be announced on January 4, 2015 and highlighted the following day at the Bluetooth SIG event at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas. The ultimate winners will be announced two months later at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. CNET will, of course, be delivering comprehensive coverage of both shows.
Winners in the first three categories will be invited to attend Mobile World Congress on behalf of the Bluetooth SIG. The overall winner will receive two roundtrip tickets to Bluetooth World 2015 and booth space in the exhibition hall (valued at $12,500 USD).
The Student category winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000 USD.
Last year's winners
The 2014 winners provided a notable cross-section of the evolving wireless industry. Automatic, the smart driving assistant, snagged the Breakthrough Application award, which CNET likened to "Nike FuelBand for your car" in our review of the . Nonin Medical's Model 3230 Bluetooth Smart Finger Pulse Oximeter was awarded Breakthrough Product for its ability to deliver medical-grade blood oxygen readouts and pulse rate data. The Breakthrough Prototype -- and overall 2014 winner -- was the , a wristband that aims to store your personal info (including passwords) using your heart's unique cardiac rhythm as the key.
In the student category, 15-year-old Shiva Nathan (shown below) of Westford, Massachusetts wowed the judges with a brain-controlled prosthetic for amputees that relies on Bluetooth to transmit control data.
How to submit
Interested parties can submit at Bluetooth.org, where eligibility information and full details are listed as well.
The deadline for online submissions is December 5, 2014.
We'll have the full list of nominees for you at CES in January, along with in-depth coverage on the most interesting Bluetooth devices at the show.