RAE announces this year's MacRobert Award finalists
05 June 2013
The three finalists for this year's Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert technology prize are: Concrete Canvas, Oxford Instruments and RealVNC.
The MacRobert Award is the UK's longest running prize of its kind, and previous winners have included Microsoft and Jaguar Land Rover. This year's finalists are all SMEs and are three examples of British ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and home-based manufacturing. They are as follows:
This small Cardiff-based business has created a fabric which is layered with cement powder and turns into industrial-strength concrete when water is applied. It is being used by companies all around the world to fix, line, build and strengthen things quicker and more easily than any other way of using concrete, and some imaginative designers have also used the concrete canvas to make furniture and even art work (great photos and video available).
With Oxford Instruments' 'X-Max' detector, scientists can analyse the chemicals in samples as thin as a human hair, creating a colour-coded map of exactly where each chemical is, in minutes instead of hours and to a greater level of detail (photos available).
X-Max is sold to labs, universities and factories all around the world and has been used for many purposes, including: the Natural History Museum used X-Max to study meteorite samples, and forensic scientists use it to identify gunshot residues, as well as in factories to identify flaws in manufacturing semiconductors.
It uses Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS) and works in conjunction with standard electron microscopes to enhance their capabilities.
RealVNC's software allows a computer, smartphone, or other device screen to be remotely accessed and controlled from any other device, anywhere in the world (see illustration). This is useful for many things, from remote IT support right through to remotely controlling and repairing cameras tracking polar bears!
RealVNC is used on over a billion devices worldwide, and VNC protocols have even become an official part of the internet (like email and Web protocols). RealVNC uses clever algorithms to only send data about the parts of the screen that are changing (instead of the whole screen), which makes it quicker and sharper than competitor software, and means RealVNC is the only company to be able to embed this technology in third party products. It's even been built into millions of Intel chips.
The winner will be announced on July 17 at the Academy's Awards Dinner and receive a gold medal plus a £50,000 cash prize.
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