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HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2016: Editor's Choice - Part 2

By Team HardwareZone - 27 Feb 2016

Innovation Awards

Innovation Awards

Four Innovation awards were also given out in this year's Editor's Choice segment, with the aim of recognizing innovative products and cutting-edge technologies that have emerged during the eligibility period. The winners are AMD, Apple, DJI, and Sony.

 

1.) AMD HBM Technology

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X is the first card to feature High Bandwidth Memory.

As display manufacturers begin to push out more and more quad HD and 4K monitors, the demand for higher bandwidth cards that can handle these ultra-high resolutions is only going to grow. Unfortunately, GDDR5 memory, the type that has traditionally been used on graphics cards for a while now, is quickly running up against a power wall that is making it unsustainable to continue to attempt to squeeze out additional bandwidth.

That's where High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) comes in. It is a potential game-changer, possibly ushering in a new generation of cards that offer huge amounts of bandwidth and are more compact than ever. In a nutshell, it involves stacking memory chips on top of one another to save space. These HBM towers are in turn arranged around the GPU die, both of which sit on top of an ultra-fast silicon-based interconnect called an interposer. Furthermore, because it is positioned so close to the GPU die, it enables extremely wide memory bus widths and significant power savings. In fact, for first-generation HBM, we're looking at around a 3.5x improvement in bandwidth per watt over GDDR5 memory.

Additional read: High Bandwidth Memory: What it is and why you should care

 

2.) 3D Touch technology in Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s 3D Touch


This year Apple introduced a revolutionary new technology called 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. 3D Touch uses a layer of  capacitive touch sensors under the display that register varying levels of pressure. This means you can press harder on the display to register a different input, giving you a completely new way to interact with your phone - think of it like a right-click for your phone. On the iPhone, you can use this 'hard press' input to jump straight to your favorite features inside an app, or to preview web pages, messages, maps or images. Apple has cleverly integrated 3D Touch into every part of iOS 9, so that whatever you're doing, 3D Touch can make it quicker and easier.

Like the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5s that came before it, we won't be surprised if 3D Touch, or a similar version of it anyway, becomes a staple feature in every smartphone over the next few years.

Additional read: Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus review

 

3.) DJI Osmo

DJI Osmo

The DJI Osmo is perhaps the most interesting "camera" to come to market in a long time. It takes the gimbal-stabilized camera from their flying drones and places it on a stick with controls that you can easily access. The camera itself has a highly capable 1/ 2.3-inch 12.4MP CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 100-3200 (video), true 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels) 24/25p recording capabilities, and also the ability to record timelapse videos and Slow Motion at 120 fps. Everything is controllable from your smartphone via a simple app interface, so you get a much larger screen by which to control your camera with. The end result, is steady videos from literally any angle in a compact package that’s extremely portable. It’s a combination that works so well, you wonder why no one else has done it before.

Addition read: Hands-on with the DJI Osmo

 

4.) Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II packs an astonishing number of innovations into a compact body.

To start with, it has a 42.4MP full-frame sensor. It’s not just the sizable megapixel count that impresses, it’s also the fact that this sensor is among the first series of backside-illuminated (BSI) full-frame sensors in the world.

BSI sensors capture higher quality images, especially in low-light, and while they’re commonplace in smaller cameras and smartphones, Sony’s 2015 series of A7 cameras, including the RX1R II, mark the first time that full-frame BSI sensors have been produced.

The RX1R II’s variable optical low-pass filter is also the first of its kind. Optical low-pass filters reduce the fine detail you can capture, but they also reduce the appearance of moire artifacts. Every other digital camera either has one or not, but the RX1R II is the first to come with an optical low-pass filter that you can either turn off or turn on, with two intensity settings, for maximum detail or moire reduction.

And if that’s not enough, the RX1R II hybrid auto-focus (AF) system features 399 phase-detection AF points, which cover nearly half of the entire frame and is the widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor. The RX1R II complements that with 25 contrast-detection AF points, for even faster focus.

Each feature would be hailed as ground-breaking in any other camera, but to have all three in a single product is game-changing. It’s not perfect, but the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II is one camera that solidly deserves our Innovation Award.

Additional read: Hands-on with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II

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