Home' Technology Review : March April 2012 Contents TR50
technology review March/ April 2012
Why: Small businesses benefit from
its simple mobile payment system.
Key innovation: Square has moved
beyond its initial credit card reader
for smart phones; a new app lets
you automatically open a tab with a
merchant on entering a store.
Why: Its processors combine the
flexibility of software with the effi-
ciency of hardware.
Key innovation: Chip designs
that can reconfigure themselves
faster than existing reprogramma-
ble designs make smaller, cheaper
Why: A manufacturing process
specifically designed for smart-
phone and tablet processors
will produce chips that increase
computing performance without
Key innovation: Its new materials
avoid the leakage of current that
saps the energy efficiency of other
high-performance processors with
very small features.
WEB & DIgITAL MEDIA
Bluefin Labs New
Why: It mines social-media sites to
gauge the audience response to
television shows and advertising.
Key innovation: Natural-language
analysis of comments on social-
media sites provides fine-grained
information about audience size
Why: Its technology makes it easier
for users to sync and share files on
smart phones, laptops, and desk-
Key innovation: Cloud-based sys-
tems are the basis for a consumer-
focused service that works across
Why: The social network has
become the means by which many
online users communicate, get news,
and find entertainment.
Key innovation: New features
automatically integrate casual
online activity, such as listening to
music or reading newspaper arti-
cles, into the social sphere.
Why: Despite its lukewarm perfor-
mance in social media, Google’s
willingness to move into new areas
shows it can still be an agenda-
Key innovation: The introduction
of Android 4.0 (also known as “Ice
Cream Sandwich”), with its crowd-
pleasing interface, confirms the
company’s position as a major force
in mobile computing.
Why: Allows users to access appli-
cations too powerful for their hard-
ware to support.
Key innovation: Its video stream-
ing technology minimizes lag so that
applications running on a server
appear to be running locally.
Why: Has deployed mobile health
services over Kenya’s cellular net-
Key innovation: Through cell
phones, the company offers
services such as first-aid recom-
mendations for subscribers.
Why: Its digital music subscription
service has succeeded where oth-
ers have failed or had only lackluster
Key innovation: Spotify has nego-
tiated with record labels to allow
users access to a large library of
music one track at a time; they can
even download music for offline use.
Why: Microblogging has become a
ubiquitous adjunct to major events,
from earthquakes to revolutions.
Key innovation: A redesigned
mobile application encourages
users to discover content relevant
to them while remaining within the
ambit of Twitter rather than turning
to third-party systems.
Why: Social gaming has dramati-
cally expanded the demographic
appeal of computer games and cre-
ated new business models for game
Key innovation: Zynga has mas-
tered the art of giving away games
and then persuading players to
make in-game purchases of virtual
goods, sometimes adding up to
many times the typical purchase
price of a game.
Why: A key supplier of equipment
for making solar cells, it is helping to
lower the cost of solar power.
Key innovation: A new manufac-
turing system allows solar produc-
ers to increase the output and
efficiency of their cells.
Why: Using lightweight parts will
decrease the fuel consumption of
the company’s aircraft and make its
satellites cheaper to launch.
Key innovation: Redesigning
select parts to take advantage of
the capabilities of 3-D printers has
cut their weight in half.
Why: Has reinvented transistor
architecture as it continues to
shrink the size of devices on a chip.
Key innovation: Its 3-D transistors
will be used in a new generation of
Why: Its catalytic process is able to
convert cheap and abundant natu-
ral gas into ethylene, a commodity
chemical used to make plastic.
Key innovation: Developed a fam-
ily of catalysts that selectively cause
methane to react to form ethylene.
Why: Has used high-speed meth-
ods to find materials that improve
the performance of batteries.
Key innovation: Identified a pair of
materials that could increase energy
density by 25 percent in batteries
for cars and portable electronics.
of solar power.
Why: Its new infrastructure extends
the effective range of electric
Key innovation: Has designed
and installed battery swap stations,
a charging network, and a central
control station to manage a fleet of
electric cars in Israel.
Why: Its spacecraft and rockets
could replace expensive govern-
ment vehicles as a way into orbit.
Key innovation: The reusable
Dragon cargo capsule is set to
become the first private space-
craft to visit the International Space
Why: WiTricity is making it more
convenient to charge electric cars.
Key innovation: Its system can
recharge a battery pack wirelessly.
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