Article

Utah Innovation Awards

Inventing a Better Tomorrow

Presented by Stoel Rives LLP & Utah Technology Council

April 8, 2013


This is what computer programmer Alan Kay once said about innovation: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

That’s something Kay knows a lot about. Decades ago he pioneered processes that are ubiquitous in modern computing. He pioneered object-oriented programming, which made programming easier and more secure, and which is now used in nearly all computer software and applications. He also helped invent the windowing graphical interface, the basis of Microsoft Windows and every other major operating system used by billions of people daily. He invented the future of computers, and it has now become the present.

The creators of the products chosen for this year’s Utah Innovation Awards are poised to help invent the next future. Thanks in part to these innovators, it will be a future in which lighter components make aircraft 25 percent more fuel-efficient and super-light tents withstand 85-mile-per-hour winds.

It will be a future where people find unknown relatives through a searchable DNA database, where teachers spend less time worrying about server crashes and more time teaching students, and where earlier cancer diagnoses mean a greater chance of survival.

It will be a future where children’s broken bones can heal with less trauma and those who have suffered the trauma of losing a limb will be able control new robotic prosthetics using nothing more than their thoughts.

These are men and women who can predict a better future, because they’re helping invent one. We at Utah Business are proud to recognize and honor them.

 

Outdoor & Consumer Products Finalists

The Sleek 4G by Wilson Electronics, LLC

The Sleek 4G makes it easier to stay connected in remote areas or while on the road. The Sleek 4G is a signal booster that improves 2G, 3G and 4G cellular reception in cars, trucks, boats and other vehicles for devices operating on all major U.S. cellular carriers.

The Sleek 4G includes a signal amplifier with a built-in antenna in a phone cradle. Once the phone or other cellular device is placed in the cradle and the unit is powered up, users typically will experience gain, or signal enhancement, of approximately 20 decibels more than the unamplified device.

The product works by detecting and, when necessary, amplifying signals on the nation’s five major frequency bands. To accomplish this, the Sleek 4G has five separate radio transceivers, one for each of the five bands, incorporated on its circuit board. Its signal sensors are able to detect signals that are up to 30 times fainter than the faintest signal detectable by the average smartphone.

Bridge Technology Bicycle Chainrings by Wickwёrks, LLC

Extreme cyclists understand the frustration Chris Wickliffe, founder of WickWërks, experienced when shifting his bike’s front derailleur. “The chainrings and front derailleur interface continue to be the worst performing components on a mountain bike. The design is outdated and has always performed poorly, so I decided to build my own,” says Wickliffe. 

Traditional bicycle chainring designs put the entire chain load on a small contact area between the pin and outer link, causing the chain to slip off the pin and creating a rough and slow shifting experience for the cyclist. To solve this problem, Wickliffe developed BRIDGE chainring technology, which has enhanced the shifting performance of road and mountain bikes.

The difference between WickWërks chainring BRIDGE technology and traditional methods is that it allows the chain to “walk-up” to the next ring while fully supported in a smooth, continuous motion. Key to the BRIDGE technology are the “ramps,” which lift the chain from a much more stable and stronger lift point. This creates a secure shift, as well as a faster method of shifting.

Si2 Mountaineering Tent by Easton

From the trailhead to the summit, backpackers and adventurists will find relief carrying—and later resting in—the Easton Cuben Si2 Mountaineering Tent. Weighing only 2.1 pounds, this two-person tent is not only light and compact, its unique build and advanced materials make it extremely reliable in even the harshest weather conditions—the tent has been tested to withstand winds of up to 85 miles per hour.

The tent’s lightness is due to its freestanding carbon fiber pole structure. These light-weight poles boast a strength ratio far beyond the traditional aluminum pole. Additionally, the poles are able to flex without the risk of bending or breaking. The tent also includes waterproof and breathable Cuben fiber fabric. Made of Dyneema threads bound with a polyurethane laminate, Cuben fiber is the most advanced high-strength fabric on the market.

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