Innovation of the Year: 9th Pocket-lint Gadget Awards contenders

One of the more intriguing categories at the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards is Innovation of the Year. It’s open to all kinds of gadgets, software, apps, websites and just about anything else that we might write about on our good pages of this hive of technology upon which you currently read these very words.

What we’ve come up with below is a few ideas of what might qualify, but if you have any bright suggestions then let us know in the comments or through feedback. We’ll be announcing the nominations for the 9th Pocket-lint Gadget Awards on 6 November. Don’t forget to vote.

Hardware

There are not many good ways to split up what is a motley crew of technological odds and sods, so we’ve gone for the physical vs the virtual.

Representing the actual sphere is a small clutch of gadgets like no other. The first is a vacuum cleaner. Okay, so there are other vacuum cleaners out there but none that works in quite the same way as the Gtech AirRam which saves you around £200 in energy costs each year by working at a tenth to a twentieth of the wattage of the rest of the competition while delivering just as much suction. It also happens to have some nifty USB interfacing with your computer and looks like something out of Sleeper, both of which are a help.

The Nokia PureView mission is not in itself a piece of kit but there are two boundary-pushing bits of hardware that have come out of this drive to make mobile phone photography better. The 808 housed a way of putting optical zoom in-phone with that 41MP sensor, and the Lumia 920 was all about optical image stabilisation by a fiendishly clever-sounding system that involved floating the entire camera array within the handset; stuff certainly worth considering, either way.

The Nike+ FuelBand seems to have taken the world by storm and it somehow manages to feel so well established that it can’t have been brought out only in 2012. While, in some ways, it’s not a very new idea, one has to admire its implementation and respect the way it's popularised exercise on a digital social level.

Finally, a challenger to the OnLive system of console games also popped up, thanks to some enormous investment on the ever-popular Kickstarter. OUYA is a similar system with free game trials for every game and a lot more media potential too. Take a look.

Not hardware

While we’re on the subject, Kickstarter itself is a stunning piece of not hardware innovation for 2012. Yes, the site has been around since 2009 but it’s opened its pages for UK projects as of this year, so that makes it okay for us, by our reckoning.

EE and its 4G network has made far too much of a splash to be ignored for this prize as well. It’s expensive, it’s exclusive and it’s rather debatable at the moment as to whether we even really need it but - well, it is fast. More than anything, perhaps, it’s that the company should be praised for pushing this tech through when the OFCOM auction was set to drag on and on.

We can’t quite decide whether Dolby Atmos is hardware or not. The truth of the matter is that this revolution in cinema sound is a combination of the two. Abolishing the idea of channels, it puts speakers in all four walls of the cinema and plots the intensity of each as part of a 3D system on 3-axes. You’d best have a read of our Dolby Atmos ears-on session for the full explanation.

Last of all comes some software - operating system software, that is. Windows 8 is the obvious one to look at. Its global popularity has yet to be seen but there are plenty of positive murmurs already from the experts, including Pocket-lint’s own Ian Morris whose words on the matter you can read right here. Whatever your feelings, the push to an all-touch interface is certainly a bold one.

Then there’s BlackBerry 10 OS. While it may not be out just yet, we’ve certainly had plenty of hands-on time with the Dev Alpha B. It’s pretty, it’s interesting, it’s new, but is it too late?

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