A system for turning poop into drinkable water; a ride-sharing program for commercial space cargo; a beam-steering satellite antenna the size of a laptop; technology that can charge devices wirelessly from 40 feet away; and an in-car navigation system that tells you when it’s better to take the bus.
Voting begins today in this category, and the winner will be announced at the GeekWire Awards on May 7 at EMP in Seattle. A big thanks to our Innovation of the Year category sponsor, Fresh Consulting, for helping to make this award possible.
If you’re just tuning in, over the past few weeks, GeekWire collected hundreds of nominations from the community in 13 categories, ranging from Young Entrepreneur of Year to Next Tech Titan to Geekiest Office Space. In conjunction with our judging panel, we then sifted through the nominations to come up with five finalists in each category.
Over the next two weeks, we will open voting in each of 13 categories, with GeekWire readers choosing their top picks. All of winners will be revealed at the GeekWire Awards — presented by Wave — on May 7. It’s a giant party that celebrates innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit in the Pacific Northwest. Tickets are available here or below.
Vote for Innovation of the Year here, and keep reading for background on each finalist.
INRIX for BMW i3: Developed by Kirkland-based traffic technology company INRIX, this is billed as the world’s first intermodal navigation system in a vehicle. First deployed in the all-electric BMW i3, the system includes an EV Range Finder that tells driver their range capacity and helps them find nearby charging stations.
But more than that, it integrates public transit data, working in conjunction with traffic information to inform drivers when it would be faster to take public transportation — then gives them turn-by-turn directions to the bus stop or train station.
Kymeta satellite antenna: This startup, spun out of Intellectual Ventures and backed by investors including Bill Gates, has developed a laptop-sized satellite antenna that uses metamaterials for to acquire, lock and steer a beam electronically, avoiding the mechanical movements found in much larger, traditional satellite dishes.
In addition to providing Internet connectivity in remote locations, the technology can be used for a consistent connection on moving vehicles such as boats and planes. Kymeta recently struck a deal with Intelsat, the world’s largest satellite services company, to further develop its technology.
Spaceflight Industries: Ride-sharing is the big trend on the road, but what about space? This company works with a variety of commercial customers to let their satellites piggyback on existing launch vehicles from companies including SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Roscosmos and Virgin Galactic.
Spaceflight, which recently raised more than 19 million in financing, operates from a headquarters near the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Omni Processor: This machine, designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm north of Seattle, takes human waste and turns it into clean drinking water, electricity and clean ash. It got a big influx of publicity earlier this year from Bill Gates, who drank a glass of water produced by the Omni Processor and challenged Jimmy Fallon to do the same.
“The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle,” Gates wrote in a blog post about the technology. “And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.
Ossia Wireless Charging: Wireless charging isn’t a new phenomenon, but what exists today largely requires a device to be within close proximity to the charger. And that’s where Ossia’s patented technology, called “Cota,” is different.
A tiny charger can be installed inside devices. It sends out a low-power beacon signal to the transmitter, a charging station that mimics a large PC tower and contains thousands of smart antennas. The transmitter then sends focused streams of targeted signals to power multiple devices — from smartphones to cameras to wearables — simultaneously at a radius of 40 feet and through obstructions like walls or human bodies.
Don’t forget to grab your tickets for the GeekWire Awards. This event usually sells out. And this year, things will be especially geeky as we open up the amazing Star Wars costume exhibit at EMP to all GeekWire Awards guests. What better way to get your geek on than go face-to-face with Chewbacca!