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Awards0GWA_banners_300x250-02We’re back with another day of voting in the GeekWire Awards, our annual community-wide effort to identify the top technology companies and innovators in the Pacific Northwest. And today’s category is an important one: Innovation of the Year.

As with each of our categories, the five finalists below were nominated by the community and then selected with the input of our panel of judges. They represent a broad swath of innovation — cloud computing, mobile broadband, connected vehicles, efficient power generation and wireless communications.

This is the latest GeekWire Awards category to come up for public vote as we build up to the big GeekWire Awards show, taking place at the EMP Museum in Seattle on May 8, when we’ll reveal the winners in this and 12 other hotly contested categories.

Fresh Consulting LogoA big thanks to our Innovation of the Year category sponsor, Fresh Consulting, for making this award possible.

Cast your ballot below for Innovation of the Year, continue reading for more background on each finalist, and check out the special slide deck, courtesy of Seattle-based Haiku Deck. Don’t forget to sign up below to join us on May 8 to see who wins.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

airbiquitylogo1Airbiquity Choreo: The connected car is an important area for innovation in the tech industry right now, as vehicles become another Internet-enabled device in our lives. One of the key behind-the-scenes players in the industry is Airbiquity, a Seattle-based company that develops a variety of technologies that enable connected vehicles.

Airbiquity’s Choreo is a cloud platform that allows content and services — Pandora and Twitter, for example — to be delivered inside connected cars. Choreo leverages the driver’s smartphone to integrate the content and apps into a personalized experience inside the car. High-profile automakers using Choreo include Nissan, BMW and Ford.

extrahopExtraHop for AWS: ExtraHop, which helps IT managers avoid costly outages and problems, introduced a unique solution for companies using Amazon Web Services in November. ExtraHop for AWS is a real-time tool designed to give developers and companies running applications on AWS a complete overview of how workloads are performing in terms of availability, security and efficiency.

ExtraHop was founded in 2007 and has raised $19 million to date.

kymetaterminalKymeta MTenna: This Redmond-based wireless technology company, spun out of Intellectual Ventures and backed by investors including Bill Gates, is developing unique technologies to deliver mobile broadband via satellite around the world. The company’s beam-steering MTenna technology can maintain a consistent connection with a satellite, eliminating the need for moving dishes.

The company announced a successful test of the technology in December, clearing the way for the commercialization of its technology, including plans for laptop-sized antennas that will be able to establish a broadband connection anywhere in the world. Kymeta’s technology is also expected to improve broadband access on planes and other moving vehicles.

HyGenPlanetary Power HyGen: Developed by Redmond-based Planetary Power, the HyGen is a generator-on-wheels that combines a diesel engine with a proprietary control system and lithium-ion batteries. It can also incorporate solar energy.

Compared to a traditional generator, HyGen promises to reduce diesel usage by 60 to 80 percent by allowing the generator to run at peak efficiency and then shutting down when the batteries are charged. HyGen was able to power a NASA-funded Mars simulation in Hawaii silently via the batteries for as much as 20 hours a day, before the diesel engine needed to kick in.

batteryfreeuwUniversity of Washington Ambient Backscatter: One of the hurdles facing the “Internet of things” is the need for every device to have a source of power. But a project from University of Washington computer scientists promises to overcome that hurdle.

Using a method called “ambient backscatter,” the UW team has built small devices that can communicate with one another and exchange data without a battery. Rather than generating a signal themselves, the ambient backscatter devices communicate by either absorbing or reflecting ambient signals, like those from a TV tower.

Vote in previous categories: Startup of the Year, App of the Year and CEO of the Year.

Tickets are going fast for the big Awards show, so make sure to get yours today:

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