Technologies Of The Year -- The 2006 Honorable Mentions

Nov. 14, 2006
In addition to honoring five Technology of the Year Winners, IndustryWeek singles out the following Honorable Mentions from this year's submitted technologies:

BOOSTCAP C-Cell Ultracapacitors (BCAP0140 E250 And BCAP120 P250)
Maxwell Technologies Inc., San Diego, Calif.

"Smaller, lighter, higher performance."

The new 2.5-volt ultracapacitors have the same exterior dimensions as C-size batteries, but weigh one-third as much. Compared to batteries, ultracapacitors deliver up to 10 times the power and longevity, operate more reliably in extreme temperatures, require less maintenance and reduce environmental issues associated with disposal. The configuration mounts easily on printed circuit boards and in other electrical devices and systems. Maxwell's new ultracapacitors can be used in industrial, consumer electronics, transportation and automotive power applications.

Protomold Rapid Injection Molding Process
The Protomold Company Inc., Maple Plain, Minn.

"An efficient process capable of providing real injection molded parts in a true 'rapid' timeframe of days, not weeks."

Based on proprietary software that integrates an online customer interface with an automated manufacturing system, Protomold's rapid injection molding process fills the gap between rapid prototyping--which is typically only practical for very low volumes-- and conventional injection molding--which is generally only economical in large volumes. The process can accommodate part designs with up to 75 square inches. Parts up to 4 in. deep are possible.

Centric InSight Intelligent Search Software
Centric Software, San Jose, Calif.

"Rapidly searches, indexes and classifies all sources of product data and enterprise asset information within the firewall."

Centric says InSight is designed to provide distributed product and project teams with automatic extraction and aggregation of real-time product and operational data, presenting cross-disciplinary information that reduces quality issues, accelerates cycle times and enables more informed decision-making. Deployment time? A week or less, says the company.

Kiva Mobile Fulfillment System
Kiva Systems, Woburn, Mass.

"Allows companies to lower cost and increase flexibility in split-case picking."

The 'secret' is the application of distributed robotics in an industrial setting. By linking hundreds of low-cost robust robotics drive units with a central server through a wireless network, Kiva creates a "swarm" of activity as each robot navigates the warehouse to execute its tasks. Kiva's implementations rely on cutting-edge advances in hardware like vision systems and power management as well as software advances in route planning and decision systems. The company claims its implementations represent the largest instances of autonomous robots in the world.

CFdesign Upfront CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) Software
Blue Ridge Numerics, Charlottesville, Va.

"Designed from the ground up to make it simple for an average engineer to tap into the power of CFD analysis early in the design process."

Blue Ridge Numerics emphasizes the ease of use: "It is intended for mechanical engineers who have no interest --or time--to pursue a career in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), but must solve complex problems. It is designed for engineers who must get answers and attain knowledge early in the design process. And it is designed for professionals who must have a CFD tool that merges into their existing workflow and with which they can work productively even after weeks of not using it."

NANOIDENT Photonic Solutions Platform
NANOIDENT Technologies AG, Linz, Austria

"Print electronic circuits on almost any surface using an industrial inkjet printer, resulting in devices that can be transparent, flexible, ultra thin and low weight."

The company sees wide-ranging applications in many markets including consumer, industrial, life sciences and security. Ultra thin and flexible, the photonic components can be made in virtually any shape, the company says. The technology is said to be appropriate for the creation of large-area devices. The company cites the possibility of large area x-ray detectors for full body scans.

IBM's 60 GHz wireless Chipset Technology
T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corp., Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

"A small, low-cost chipset that could allow wireless electronic devices to transmit and receive information at ten to forty times faster than today's advanced WiFi networks."

IBM says the silicon chipset operates in the 60GHz frequency band where there is abundant, free bandwidth and where the antenna can be extremely small. Researchers say the chipset can communicate at over a gigabit per second data rate, enabling such applications as wireless uncompressed high-definition TV and ultra fast streaming of data from one device to another via wireless personal area networks. IBM also calls the technology a stepping stone to other millimeter-wave applications, an important being radar.

IBM's Silicon Nanophotonics Technology
T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corp., Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

"A tiny silicon device to slow down the speed of light."

IBM researchers describe the capability as a big advance toward the eventual use of light in place of electricity in the connection of electronic components in computer chips. The potential? Vast improvements in the performance of computers and other electronic systems including telecommunications and various digital consumer products, say researchers. Commercial deployment? Could be a decade away.

IBM's Carbon Nanotube/Nanophotonics Technology
T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corp., Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

"A new way to make light out of electricity."

IBM researchers say they were able to 'coerce' every electron to convert its energy to light instead of dissipating into heat. The light source: a single carbon nanotube molecule. Described as the world's smallest solid state light source, it emits in a wavelength range (1-2 micrometers) of critical importance in many technological applications ranging from telecommunication to those of the bio-medical industry.

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