Tech Impact Awards 2012: Mobile


Microsoft (Photosynth)
1 Microsoft Way, Redmond
Employees: 94,290 (worldwide)

Few mobile applications demonstrate the growing level of computing power and features of today’s smartphones as well as Photosynth, an impressive system that combines the web and a mobile app to create a 3D, walk-around view or seamless panorama from multiple photographs. The mobile app uses sophisticated pattern recognition to help an unsophisticated user snap a sequence of pictures that can be stitched together to create an immersive experience that interacts with the viewer. The result can then be shared through social media, such as Facebook, a facility that is smartly integrated into the app. Developed by Microsoft Live Labs from initial research at the University of Washington, the Photosynth mobile app is an innovative way to apply a much larger body of research to a more narrowly defined task. With downloads to more than 6 million devices including iPhone and Windows Phone, Photosynth could help recreate a 3D virtual map of the world.


Silver Award
2401 Utah Ave. S, Seattle
Employees: 95,000 (worldwide)

The coffee giant continues to lead the way in retailing through its use of mobile technology to improve its ongoing relationship with customers. Starbucks’ mobile app offers patrons a comprehensive resource to find the nearest store efficiently, manage their accounts and pay directly through their smartphones. Its smartly integrated features provide a customer experience that encourages loyalty to the brand.

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Susan Gates, left, and Kate Isler

Longtime friends Kate Isler and Susan Gates encourage consumers to shop with purpose