Since 1959, TechAmerica Innovator Awards have been honoring pioneers in the tech industry--in particular, focusing on people who've contributed to the evolution of computer equipment, telecom equipment, consumer electronics, electronic components, software, clean tech, and the Internet.
This year, the annual award ceremony was held October 6, at the Fairmont hotel in San Jose, Calif. Here are some of the technologies that won top honors--and the people behind them.
Category: Clean tech
Innovator: Rob Mead, chief architect, Advanced Air Traffic Management, Boeing
Innovation: Tailored Arrivals
Sometimes, simple innovations can yield the greatest results. This year's clean-tech innovation award went to a technology called Tailored Arrivals, which was developed by Rob Mead at Boeing. Tailored Arrivals integrates all known aircraft performance, air traffic, airspace, meteorological, obstacle clearance, and environmental constraints expected to be encountered during an arrival into a singular system. It then calculates the most fuel-efficient and minimum-noise approach clearances to aircraft arriving at an airport to land, for the entire approach from cruise altitude to touchdown.
Category: Consumer electronics
Innovator: Stanley Yang, CEO, NeuroSky
Innovation: Mind-reading headset
NeuroSky CEO Stanley Yang has created the first consumer Brain to Computer Interface Technology, according to TechAmerica's Web site. Using ThinkGear technology contained inside, the mind-reading headset provides real-time mental state information to the user, based on his or her brainwave patterns.
In this photo, Chris Dyball concentrates while using NeuroSky's mind-controlled headset to play a video game at Stanford University's Cool Product Expo in 2007.
Innovator: Arthur R. Berrill, vice president of Advanced Concepts and Technology, Pitney Bowes
Innovation: Pitney Bowes FireLocator
Developed by Pitney Bowes' Arthur R. Berrill, the FireLocator is a free, public Web site providing reliable information and timely location intelligence about wildfires to residents, government agencies, and media outlets. The FireLocator uses real-time data from a variety of sources and incorporates user-generated imagery, satellite data, and incident reports to show fire boundaries, potential danger areas, and thermal imagery.
Category: Telecom equipment
Innovator: Jan Uddenfeldt, SVP and Senior Adviser Technology to CEO, Ericsson
Innovation: 2G, 3G (HSPA) Technology
Jan Uddenfeldt won this year's award in the telecom equipment category for his contributions to the research and development of what is now widespread 2G, 3G (HSPA) telecommunications technology.
Category: Computer and equipment
Innovator: Victor Shtrom, chief wireless architect/founder, Ruckus Wireless
Innovation: Smart Wi-Fi
Victor Shtrom of Ruckus Wireless has pioneered what is known as Smart Wi-Fi, a collection of technologies that extend the range and reliability of wireless signals, and reduce the costs and complexity of conventional wireless LAN deployments.
Category: Electronic components
Innovator: Balu Balakrishnan, president and CEO, Power Integrations
Innovation: EcoSmart Energy-Efficiency Technology
Balu Balakrishnan was given a TechAmerica award for his work developing EcoSmart Energy-Efficiency Technology.
The technology drastically improves the efficiency of AC-DC power conversion and reduces the waste of electronics in "standby mode" to almost zero, according to TechAmerica's Web site.
Innovator: Scott Schumacher, chief scientist, and Scott Ellard, chief technology officer, Initiate Systems
Innovation: Probabilistic searching
Scott Schumacher and Scott Ellard, both from data management software company Initiate Systems, won this year's TechAmerica award in the software category.
With increased volumes of data on the Internet, Schumacher realized deterministic search was an inefficient way to go about designing databases and instead developed an algorithm that directs a search using probabilistic principles. Ellard then built a database index that works by navigating based on experience rather than rote rules.