Home' Technology Review : March April 2011 Contents Feature Story 39
Why: Conventional solar power is
still too expensive to compete with
fossil fuels, in part because of the
cost of manufacturing silicon-based
Key innovation: Developed a
cheaper method for making silicon
wafers, the most expensive compo-
nent of a solar module.
Why: Budget cuts will force
NASA to rely on private com-
panies for supply missions and
Key innovation: Introduced a
low-cost production method for
everything from rocket engines
to astronaut capsules.
Why: Its technology can reduce
the cost of computing in data
Key innovation: Runs serv-
ers with cell-phone chips
rather than processors built
on industry-standard designs,
which are more power-hungry.
Why: Computer chips that oper-
ate with probabilities instead of
binary logic could speed appli-
cations such as fraud analysis
and machine vision.
Key innovation: Its micropro-
cessor uses electronic signals
to represent probabilities rather
than binary 0s and 1s.
Why: user interfaces based on
gesture recognition make pos-
sible new applications in gaming
and everyday computing.
Key innovation: Developed the
3-D sensor system that Micro-
soft’s Kinect device uses to
Why: Expanding the use of
mobile payments will help small
Key innovation: Built technol-
ogy that lets anyone accept
credit cards using smart phones.
Why: Web applications must
get faster and feel much more
responsive to users if cloud
computing is to keep growing.
Key innovation: Its technology
efficiently routes traffic across
the Internet and makes web-
Why: Corporate decision-
making gets smarter if it taps
the insights of rank-and-file
Key innovation: Private pre-
diction markets let employees
forecast the results of corporate
Why: Social networking on the
Web is becoming a powerful
advertising medium and a plat-
form for startups that offer add-
Key innovation: Adapts quickly
to shape its site into a medium
that advertisers consistently
want to use.
Why: By encouraging millions of
people to sign up for quirky daily
advertising e-mails, Groupon
has created one of the fastest-
growing revenue generators on
Key innovation: offers local
businesses a way to guarantee
a return on their promotional
budget, thereby tapping into a
huge advertising pool that has
eluded many Web companies.
Why: Augmented reality
enhances the value of a mobile
device, employing its camera and
GPS and displaying information
about the user’s surroundings.
Key innovation: Its develop-
ment platform lets businesses
and advertisers add AR func-
tions to their own apps.
Why: Now that the company has
begun to make money from its large
user base, a service that has woven
its way into everyday life is more
likely to stick around.
Key innovation: Its business model
offers selected opportunities for
advertisers while drawing income
from deals that let search engines
index its content.
Why: Web tools can help people
respond to crises such as earth-
quakes and political protests.
Key innovation: Its open-source
crowdsourcing tool overlays field
reports on maps, providing critical
and often life-saving data during
Why: Companies are building
businesses inside platforms like
Key innovation: Its social games
offer people a new way to interact
Why: Light-emitting diodes are
an energy-efficient option for
lighting in buildings and homes,
but they are still expensive.
Key innovation: Its low-cost
process produces LEDs on the
same equipment used to make
Why: Biodegradable plastics that
aren’t made from petroleum offer
several environmental benefits.
Key innovation: Its polymer-
manufacturing processes use
carbon dioxide to make plastics
needed for packaging.
Why: Retrofitting existing buildings
is a cost-effective way to increase
Key innovation: Mass-produces
windows with energy-saving fea-
tures such as coatings and gas
Why: Targeting cancer drugs nar-
rowly to tumor cells will reduce the
side effects of chemotherapy.
Key innovation: Its delivery system
uses peptides to deliver drugs to
Why: Screening drugs on
human heart cells will help
researchers find treatments for
cardiac problems and test drugs
for toxic side effects.
Key innovation: uses induced
pluripotent stem cells to make
large numbers of heart cells for
Why: Simple, fast diagnostic
tests can help physicians track
Key innovation: Its microfluidic
device for doctors’ offices can
quickly detect elevated protein
levels associated with prostate
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