Against the backdrop of a worsening recession, San Diego’s innovation community came together for the 21st annual “Most Innovative Products” awards luncheon today in La Jolla. The event is intended to showcase new products introduced over the past year in eight categories that reflect technology clusters, such as wireless communications, medical devices, and aerospace and security technologies that are concentrated in the region.
“Whenever I think of these communities of innovation, I think we’ll come out of this okay,” said Connect CEO Duane Roth, referring to the economic downturn that has dominated recent headlines. Connect, the non-profit organization that has organized the awards since 1987, promotes innovative technologies by helping provide entrepreneurs with the information and resources they need to build a business.
More than 800 people registered for the event at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, in the heart of San Diego’s technology center. This year’s winners were culled from 24 finalists, which were selected from more than 100 nominations, and included the first tie in the history of the award—for Aerospace and Security Technologies.
The nine categories and the companies that received Connect’s most innovative products award are:
—Action and Sports Technologies: The “Direct Drive” surfboard design developed by Firewire Surfboards. The design features carbon composite rods inserted near the surfboard’s rail, or edges, to enhance deep, carving turns. Connect introduced the action sports category last year to recognize the rapidly expanding cluster of recreational sports companies in the region.
—Aerospace and Security Technologies: A tie between the Vue Personal Video Network developed by wireless sensor company Avaak with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Office of Naval Research; and the Sky Warrior, a new version of the Predator robotic spy plane, armed with four Hellfire anti-tank missiles, that was developed for the U.S. Army by General Atomics, a privately held government contractor.
—Clean Technology: Energico, a complex software simulation program, developed by Reaction Design specifically to help industrial, chemical, and combustion engineers solve complex problems in gas-turbine engine design.
—Hardware and General Technology: Cipher Module, a magnetic stripe card reader developed by Semtek to help prevent credit card fraud at the retailer’s point of sale.
—Life Science, Design and Research Tools: Ski Pro, a machine that analyzes biomolecular interactions that was developed by Silicon Kinetics, a small company with 12 people, for biotech researchers.
—Life Science, Medical Products: The Catheter Ablation System developed by Ablation Frontiers, which is used to treat areas of heart tissue subject to atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat.
—Software and IT: Taaz.com, a free Web site developed by Photometrica that enables anyone to upload their mug shot and perform a “virtual makeover” using the registered colors and shades of Revlon, Sephora and other cosmetic companies.
—Wireless Communications: Awarded to the PortaBella broadband network appliance developed by Mushroom Networks for cost-effective connectivity between a host office and mobile locations.
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