The Wall Street Journal 2009 Technology Innovation Awards
Medical detective work may have just gotten a lot easier.
Just how difficult it is gets highlighted every time an infectious disease sweeps the globe, as the new strain of swine flu did earlier this year. Current methods of testing for disease-causing microbes are pretty effective at discovering whether an infected fluid or tissue sample contains a known virus or bacteria. But trying to detect previously unknown organisms is a whole different story.
To address this problem, David Ecker, co-founder of Ibis Biosciences Inc., and a team of researchers developed a sensor able to quickly detect and identify all the pathogens in a given sample.
The equipment promises not only to alert health officials to new disease strains, but also to guard against bioterrorism and enable hospitals to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Abbott Laboratories and its Ibis Biosciences unit, which developed the Ibis T5000 sensor, took the Gold in this year's Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards.
The Silver award went to Touch Bionics Inc. for its i-Limb artificial hand, which features bendable fingers and a rotating thumb. The hand uses sophisticated motors and computer controls to grip objects and move in ways that traditional prosthetic hands can't.
Vihaan Networks Ltd., an Indian telecommunications company known as VNL, won the Bronze award for a solar-powered base station to bring cellphone access to remote rural villages. The inexpensive base station can be quickly assembled and set up by unskilled villagers, and can run entirely on the built-in solar panels and batteries.
For the ninth annual Innovation Awards, a Journal editor reviewed nearly 500 entries, sending more than 180 to a team of judges from research institutions, venture-capital firms and other companies. Judges considered whether innovations were truly groundbreaking and ââ¬new this yearââ¬ looked at whether their application would be particularly useful in a time of economic hardship.
And the winners in each category are:
Capturing real-life motion to use in computer animation can be complicated. Typically, actors are filmed wearing bodysuits covered with glowing dots or embedded with sensors that trace their movements, then high-powered computers use that data to help create characters that move realistically.
The core of the system is technology that uses sophisticated software to produce a digital clone of a person being filmed. Fourteen video cameras capture images simultaneously and send them to a standard computer with a high-end programmable graphics card, making the system far cheaper than the specialized equipment used in movie special-effects shops.
Organic Motion systems are being used in the creation of virtual environments for training coal-mine rescue personnel and for helping returning military veterans readjust to civilian life. Andrew Tschesnok, the company's chief executive and founder, says future versions will work with next-generation game consoles for more-lifelike game experiences.