2014 Icon Awards shortlist: Technology of the Year 24.11.14

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  • Aakash UbiSlate 7Ci tablet by Datawind

  • Blackphone by Silent Circle

  • Citymapper app

  • Google contact lenses

  • UltraRope by Kone

Jake Evill's Cortex 3D-printed cast won in 2103. Check out this year's nominees for Techonology of the Year, sponsored by Monotype

by Datawind

The UbiSlate 7CZ is a low-cost tablet from DataWind, which bids to bridge the digital divide and connect the next billion internet users. The company tasked itself with developing a device costing £30 (the average weekly salary in India) and targeted consumers that have not previously been able to afford tablet technology. Co-founder and CEO Suneet Singh Tuli also sees the product as a means to deploy core education through improved internet access. By reducing data usage without compromising functionality, the UbiSlate is up to 30 times cheaper than the average tablet.

aakash Ubislate 400

by Silent Circle

Blackphone, launched by private communications company Silent Circle this August, is the first commercially available smart phone to encrypt calls, text message and internet browsing. Recognising the need for greater privacy for everyone in the light of revelations about government and tech corporations' leeching of communication data, the phone is aimed at the mass market and costs $630. The Android handset still lets you download apps like Facebook, but gives you greater control over its access to your personal data, contacts and photos.

Read our latest issue, Data, for more about Blackphone and other privacy-conscious gadgets

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Citymapper's mission is to reinvent the transport app, and to help people navigate their way around even the most complicated of cities. Useful for both newcomers and those looking to explore their hometown further, the app currently maps out routes in London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Madrid, and more. Using the app tells you the fastest route from your starting point to desired destination, and offers all modes of transport, including jetpack.

Omid Ashtari, the general manager of Citymapper, will be speaking at Icon's event at the View From the Shard on 10 December 

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Google X announced it was working on a prototype glucose monitoring contact lens in January this year. Brian Otis and Babak Parviz's product is a non-invasive alternative to current care for diabetes patients and works by measuring the glucose in tears. The lens is made of three layers, in which antennae "thinner than human hairs" measures glucose. The lens will draw its power from a nearby device and communicate with it using a wireless technology known as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Still in development, this technology is likely to take up to five years to hit the market. 

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by Kone

Launched last year, UltraRope is a lift cable that will make it possible for people to travel to the top of a 1km-tall building on just one lift. Until now, the reliance on steel has meant that 550m was about as high as a elevator shaft could be, limited by the weight of adding more steel. The slimmed-down UltraRope strip delivers the strength of steel for less than a fifth of the weight and it has already been commissioned for the Kingdom Tower under construction in Saudi Arabia – which, when complete, will be the world's tallest building. In addition to heralding a new generation of super-tall buildings, it had been suggested that the UltraRope might be a suitable material for a space elevator – a (comparatively) cheap way to boost people and materials into orbit. 

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