Looking back on any year in technology, there is always a mix of things we can point to that are changing the world right now and those that are promising technology that will change our world tomorrow. 2011 was a great year for both. This year, the iPhone launched voice recognition, journalism got collaborative, and apps did everything from helping us connect with new friends to letting us organize all our content. A smart little plastic gadget let anyone turn their mobile device into a portable cash register--and some of the most innovative new technologies of the year promised amazing new developments like flexible electric skin and multitouch projection technology.
So, without further ado, here is my list of some of the Character Approved devices, websites, and innovations from 2011!
Light Touch Projector: The Light Touch Projector is bringing projection technology together with touchscreen technology by projecting a touchscreen onto any flat surface. Already industry partners are buzzing about the potential uses for this technology, from virtual projected menus at restaurants to running a PC off a small USB device, where the screen and keyboard could be projected instead of carried. [Image: Light Blue Optics]
Jawbone Up Wristband: This new wearable wristband from popular bluetooth headset designer Jawbone is one of the most popular in a new category of wearable technology that measures different aspects of your life, from how far you walk to what you are eating. As people track their health on a daily basis, the idea is that we can all live better lives in the process. [Image: Jawbone]
Flipboard: As content exploded online, Flipboard was one of the most popular apps of the year, allowing anyone to browse multiple forms of digital content in a magazine-like format. [Image: Flipboard]
Sonamba: For anyone with aging parents, it can be a constant battle to try and find the time and tools to stay connected. Sonamba makes a home gadget designed especially for seniors, with a touchscreen, cell network link, motion sensors, and the ability to send text messages, set reminders, and even play games. [Image: Sonamba]
Square: You might not immediately think having a cash register in your pocket would be useful, but this simple device that plugs into an iPhone has helped organizations like the American Red Cross revolutionize how they collect money. In addition, it offers you the ability to take a credit card payment from anyone. [Image: Square]
Kindle Fire: Coming with a boatload of free content from Amazon, the first color touchscreen Kindle has staked a new middle ground it tablet technology. With the ability to stream and watch content, a low price point, and integrated shopping on Amazon, the Fire is already introducing a whole new consumer market to the browsing benefits of tablets. [Image: Amazon]
Nokia Flexible Skin: One of the most hotly anticipated technologies of the coming year is flexible electric skin which would allow all sorts of devices like mobile phones and MP3 players to be bendable and wearable. Nokia has pioneered demos with this technology already, and there will be many others to come in the new year. [Image: Nokia Research Lab]
Siri: Thanks to an early acquisition, Siri launched as an integrated part of the new iPhone 4S. The technology allows voice recognition for the iPhone to answer questions posed in natural language, but the part that has everyone talking about Siri is just how good "she" is at helping with nearly any query and having a personality to boot. Artificial intelligence never sounded so good. [Image: Apple]
Storify: Journalism is rapidly evolving, and one of the sites in 2011 that helped pave the way was Storify. Allowing anyone to curate content on any topic, the site helped make it easier to understand stories and create your own look back at nearly any topic. [Image: Storify]
Color: Now you don't have to limit your friends just to people you know. With Color, you can open yourself up to meeting people who happen to be in the same place as you--whether you are at a concert or just taking your morning commute. Finding new friends is great, and allowing strangers to connect is even better. [Image: Color]
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These awards pay tribute, to the real characters who are changing the face of American culture. The 2010 honorees are innovators in their field who are influencing our opinions,
our style, and our view of the world. They're celebrated by their peers, and their fresh, authentic ideas both suprise and inspire us.