ceatec-2014-innovation-awards[CEATEC 2014] Never mind typhoon Phanfone which thankfully passed over Tokyo a day before CEATEC 2014 kicked off officially for the masses, although some of us judges had train troubles getting to the cavernous Makuhari Messe. Still, come hell or high water, the work of judging needs to be done, and after a few days of walking from booth to booth while munching on onigiris for lunch, the CEATEC 2014 Innovation Awards have been decided by a panel of journalists. Ubergizmo’s co-founder Hubert Nguyen is on the journalist panel and has weighed in on the following winners.

omron-ping-pong-robotThe CEATEC Innovation Awards Grand Prix for this year belongs to the Omron Ping Pong robot, simply because of the potential applications for such technology that merges machine vision alongside other technological aspects. In fact, the future of machines that boast of such fast reaction speeds might see one robot replace up to several single-function robots, thanks to its versatility and practicality.

technics-r1-1In the Home Entertainment category, it was the Technics R1 Reference System that took top honors out of a hotly contested group. It might seem to be a no-brainer in this situation, especially when you take into consideration that this happens to be one of the first major Hi-Fi releases from the vaunted Technics in six years. Yes, it is well worth waiting half a dozen years for this big, bad, piano black monster, going to show that bigger is better in this particular instance.

rohm-usb-power-delivery-system-1Under the Computing & Networking category, the idea of having your notebook powered by a USB cable is a tantalizing one, which is why ROHM’s USB Power Delivery System makes perfect sense as the winner. Granted, this does not mean that you can start powering big ticket items like a microwave oven with USB anytime soon, but at least steps have been taken in the right direction with the correct chipset for a USB 3.0 cable to juice up your notebook while maintaining its ability to transfer data at USB 3.0 speeds simultaneously – sweet!

sensor-network-module-2As for Electric Components, it would be the ALPS Network Sensor Module that would walk away with the award. After all, wearable computing continues to move in the right direction, and with this Network Sensor Module, it goes to show just how one can interact with a computer or tablet in the future while wearing but a simple “ring” on the finger. I suppose there will be diamond studded ones for the geeky other half of yours as an engagement ring, making it all the more useful.

toshiba-smartglassUnder the Mobile Technology category, the Toshiba Glass would be the winner here, although the choices are not really all that difficult to make in the first place. One of the main reasons that the Toshiba Glass picked up this gong is due to the fact that it comes in a variety of frames, allowing fashionistas to geek out at the same time. Will it take over Google Glass’ position in the hearts and minds of gadget lovers everywhere? Who knows? It really depends on the affordability and number of practical apps that come along with it.

You can have the best hardware in town, but if there is no right software to keep it going, then it is not going to do much at all. Hence, for the Software category, it would be the software behind the Omron Ping Pong robot that picks up the gong this time around. As we mentioned, the Omron Pong is pretty impressive – and perhaps a little bit intimidating due to the overall size of the robot, but it is far from being ready for competitive matches just yet, especially when you take into consideration how it far better for basic rallying than anything else.

sharp-ir-nv-camera-1In the Digital Imaging category, the Sharp IR Color Night Vision Camera ends up as the winner here. It is somewhat similar to making the jump from black and white all the way to full color back when TVs were introduced, now how about that? The little bit of “pixie dust” that Sharp sprinkles all over the IR Color Night Vision Camera certainly does its “magic” well for sure. The home security systems of the future that incorporate this unique Sharp IR Color Night Vision Camera would be worth a second look actually.

whill-1When it comes to Health & Household, WHILL Inc. takes the cake here with their WHILL smart wheelchair, being able to ferry its user (up to 100kg in weight – anything more and he/she probably could not fit in anyways) around at speeds of up to 6km/h in Japan and 10km/h in the US. The WHILL smart wheelchair was a successful crowdfunding project that took input from more than 400 mobility impaired people in order to deliver a seamless and smooth experience.

denso-x-mobility-4As for the Industrial Design category, the Denso X-mobility ultimately proved itself to be a worthy winner, having put up quite a “show” to keep the masses entertained with its seemingly futuristic look that would not be out of place in a science fiction movie. It is like moving on wheels without wheels (sounds weird, I know) – you simply have to see it in action to believe it.

mitsubishi-turksat-4aWhere Smart Community is concerned, it would be Mitsubishi Electric’s Satellite Program that picks up the gong. Most of the time, there is a seeming disconnect between the world of consumer electronics and space technology, but Mitsubishi’s Satellite Program might be a whole lot more practical than we think. Showcasing the satellite’s highly accurate positioning capabilities, it might just change the way a disaster response team works in the future as they will have a far more accurate representation of the actual landscape than ever before, and this is just a start.

mazda-led-2Last but not least, under the Transportation category, it would be the LED Headlights from Mazda that take the cake here. Who does not like LED headlights? They are not only bright, but also less energy consuming as well, and last longer than regular bulbs. If one LED goes off, you need not fret too much since you can still have enough lighting ahead of the road in pitch black darkness to see, but when one regular headlight fails, you are effectively half blind. Not only that, with Mazda’s innovation, the LED headlights will be able to work with its high beams on, without blinding oncoming cars due to the adaptive technology involved. Neat!

So there you have it for the winners in this year’s edition of the Innovation Awards. We hope to be back next year with a slew of new releases and updates for you to check out.

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