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January 16, 2014

Top Innovations of the Year

Posted by Soundararajan S (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:58 AM

2013 technology innovation highlights [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eYT_Dw8rfM]

Talk about thinking outside the box! Here are some of my favorite innovations of 2013. This list is by no means exhaustive. It's meant as a springboard to think about what impressed you in 2013 ... and what might be the ingredients of those big innovation during the coming year.

I would suggest that we not subscribe solely to the notion that an innovation has to be an earth-shattering event. Most of the world's most ingenious and most lasting innovations arrive without a huge fanfare. But they stand the test of time and end up changing the way we live and do business.

Robotic Insects (Transportation & Engineering):Leonardo da Vinci made sketches of wings that he'd witnessed in nature. He did so in the believed that one day they could be attached to a human. The developers of today's robotic insects take the same kind of inspiration from the natural world. Aerial drones have many potential applications - from crime fighting to freight delivery. But sometimes remote-controlled drones bump into snowstorms, mountains, or buildings. What's cool about robotic insects is that they mimic the resiliency of flies and bees; that is, they can bump into things and keep on flying. I am, like the rest of the world, excited by a recent news story in which Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos said he's working on tiny, propeller-driven drone aircraft to make same-day delivery a reality.

Smart TV Ads (Media & Telecommunications): The advantage of advertising online is that you can target your wares and services to people more likely to buy them. This, of course, is a revolutionary development in the world of advertising, which used to be about taking out mass ads in magazines, newspapers, and television and hoping - not unlike a fisherman - that you'd get a few nibbles. This past year we've seen some of the most concrete steps yet taken towards using TV as another medium on which enterprises can target ads. Over the past decade, subscription-based models and on-demand programs have continued to eat away at the dominance of the traditional networks. What that means in part is that a company can parse the data from someone's television programming orders and customize suites of commercials to fit that particular household. If, for example, a viewer is watching lots of sporting events, then manufacturers of recreational products and even beer brewers can send that TV more ads. Smart TVs are here to stay.

Bitcoin Takes Hold (Global Finance): What the capital markets have experienced since the onset of the global economic crisis more than five years ago is the realization that having a currency that isn't pegged to one country or another is pretty desirable. The basic concept is a very old one - paper currencies used to be directly tied to the value of a precious metal silver or gold. Today that's not the case, so the value of these currencies can ebb and flow like the sea. Cyber-currencies like Bitcoin are based on traditional concepts like being based on a metal, but they are also exceptionally modern in that they take the physical aspect of money out of the equation. They're based entirely in the world of cyberspace. And, because there are limits on how many of them will ever exist, a central banks can't print more of them and therefore depreciate their value. People who track currencies like the American dollar, British pound, or Indian rupee know that state-owned paper money can be a roller coaster ride. Granted, Bitcoin has its share of issues its creators need to work out - security being foremost on the list - but we think that having an alternative to paper money is a neat innovation in the world of finance.

Internet of Things Becomes Reality (Technology): We've been dreaming about the Internet of Things for years. But in 2013 we saw the first widespread application of the concept and, frankly, it's an exciting glimpse of what we're all going to be enjoying in the not-too-distant future. You need two very important elements for the IoT to be universally accepted and utilized: mobility and connectivity. What we saw in 2013 is that smartphone and tablet computing platforms are pulling away from the traditional desktop and laptop. They're becoming the platforms of choice. Because that's happening, and because most any device is now being manufactured with the anticipation of being able to be controlled remotely, the IoT is finally coming into its own.

What does your list of top picks of 2013 innovations look like?

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