As 2011 draws to a close, there’s a lot of focus on tech that flopped. And while part of me likes rubbernecking as much as the next guy—RIM’s “Amateur hour is over” ads for the PlayBook were indeed priceless—it’s also important to recognize the mobile companies that innovated throughout the year. To help celebrate these triumphs, I hereby announce the winners of the first annual Spoony Awards, highlighting my favorite mobile tech advancements. The most telling thing about this list is that it’s not so much about the gadgets themselves anymore but the software that powers them.
No, it’s not inside a real product yet, but an innovation from Wysips could change mobile devices forever. The company’s transparent photovoltaic film literally sips energy from ambient light, allowing a next-generation phone or tablet’s screen to help power the device. No more hunting for outlets by lunchtime, as we’ve seen with certain 4G LTE phones and tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for Verizon or Motorola Droid Xyboard. The company won first place in CTIA’s 2011 Emerging Technology competition, and it’s been commissioned by the French government to co-develop the first self-powered 4G tablet. The future can’t come soon enough.