CeBIT: Four U.S. Companies Among 50 Finalists in Innovation Contest
NEWS ANALYSIS: The Code _n contest identified 50 finalists vying for awards at CeBIT as top innovators in sustainability and energy savings. But what constitutes innovation?HANNOVER, Germany—One of the much-anticipated events at the CeBIT show in Hannover is the presentation of the Code _n awards. Unfortunately, I've never actually seen this presentation because it takes place on the final day of the show—long after I've returned to Washington. But I'm not sure it matters very much who wins, although the winner does stand to win a quarter of a million euros in crowd-sourced funding. The real question is whether these seemingly prestigious awards are really rewarding innovation. After a visit to the spot at this vast trade show where the finalists show their wares, I have to wonder if the definition of innovation has changed. Four of the finalists in this global competition are from the U.S. Although it's safe to say that the ideas are interesting, just how innovative they are is another question. One of the four is the Elf, from Organic Transit in Durham, N.C. The Elf is a delivery or commuting cycle with electric assist. In other words, when the going gets tough, the Elf gets some help with an electric motor and battery. The Elf has solar cells on its roof to help charge the battery. It's marketed as a transit solution that also helps your overall level of fitness.
Another finalist, the PICOwatt from Tenrehte Technologies, is a WiFi-enabled device that plugs into your wall outlet. You then plug other devices, such as computers or television sets into that. The PICOwatt device has its own Web page that lets you examine how much power your devices are consuming, even while they're turned off.