On February 8, some of the best and brightest startups, entrepreneurs and investors will pack into San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House for the 9th Annual Crunchies, essentially the Oscars for startups and technology. They’ll be hoping to win a Crunchie award in one of 12 categories up for grabs at this year’s show.
The Crunchie for Hardware of the Year goes to the gadget that had the biggest impact on the tech landscape in 2015. Below are the companies that have been selected as finalists for the Hardware of the Year award this year, as well as a look at the previous winners of this coveted award.
The 2015 Nominees
Apple launched the Apple Pencil stylus as a unique new way to interact and create with the company’s new massive iPad Pro tablet. The Pencil is an incredibly accurate stylus that detects position, force and tilt, allowing artists and designers to create elaborate works of art and business folks to markup documents for easier edits on the go.
Devialet Phantom Speaker
If you’ve got some money to spend on a speaker, the Devialet Phantom is an amazing device that delivers rich bass, excellent treble and interesting separation, and all in a device that’s not much larger than your average Bluetooth speaker. Of course, that incredible sound comes at a premium, as the Phantom will set you back about $2,000.
Parrot launched the company’s new Bebop drone in March with a chassis that was lightweight and built with safety in mind, as the propellers immediately stops on collision. The Bebop features a 1080p video camera with built-in stabilization that captures motion at 30 FPS, and captures 14 megapixel stills with the fisheye lens, and all for under $500. An updated version of the drone, the Bebop 2, launched in late December with double the battery life for $550.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung launched the second generation of the Gear VR virtual reality headset in November for $99. The slimmed-down version of the Gear VR weighs just 0.62 pounds, and it’s compatible with a wide array of Samsung’s current and previous lineup of smartphones and phablets so more users can partake in the Gear VR experience. You can read Drew’s hands-on with Gear VR here.
BB-8 is the awesome new droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Sphero is a toy company that makes robotic, connected toys. Seems like a match made in heaven, no? Thanks to a partnership with Disney, Sphero launched the must-have toy from The Force Awakens, a connected, rolling mini BB-8 droid that kids both young and old can play with and control with their smartphone, voices, or via a new wearable wristband that launched at CES 2016. Oh, and it’ll play holographic messages recorded by you and other BB-8 owners via the iPhone and Android apps. Sphero’s BB-8 is easily the most awesome toy to come out of The Force Awakens so far.
Apple iPhone/iPhone 3G – First and Second Annual Crunchies Winner
After years of rumors and speculation that Apple was making a phone, the company unveiled its first iPhone model on January 9, 2007. The iPhone immediately made waves as soon as it launched, easily handing Apple the first ever Crunchie for Best New Gadget/Device, a feat it won again the following year with the iPhone 3G.
Barnes and Noble Nook – Third Annual Crunchies Winner
Barnes and Noble launched their Nook ebook reader in October 2009 that added a 3.5” color touch screen functionality that bested the competition. The Nook had software that let users share books for up to 14 days with friends and family that could be read by anyone with a Nook app on their phones or computers.
Apple iPad – Fourth Annual Crunchies Winner
In the same way that Apple revolutionized the smartphone market when it introduced the first iPhone, the company brought tablet computers into the mainstream with the iPad, which launched in 2010. The iPad allowed users to not only consume content like books and magazines like traditional ereaders, but also iPhone apps that were redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen.
Nest – Fifth Annual Crunchies Winner
Nest ushered in the Internet of Things movement with the company’s smart thermostat, a device homeowners could use to replace their standard digital thermostats that promised to help reduce energy cost. Nest is a so-called learning thermostat that determines patterns in the way users control their heating and cooling settings, then sets a smart schedule to reduce usage while still keeping people comfortable when they’re home. Plus, it could all be controlled via a smartphone app.
Makerbot – Sixth Annual Crunchies Winner
In the same way that Nest ushered in the Internet of Things movement, Makerbot brought 3D printing to the masses with accessible and affordable 3D printers. The company launched its desktop Replicator 3D printer in January 2012, unveiled the Replicator 2.0 in September, and launched a new retail store in New York City that same month.
Oculus VR – Seventh and Eighth Annual Crunchies Winner
Arguably no device has had a greater impact over the last few years than Oculus, the headset that looks set to bring virtual reality into the mainstream. Oculus won the Best Hardware Startup Crunchie at the Seventh Annual Crunchies in 2013 on the heels of the company’s massively successful Kickstarter campaign, and won again at the Eighth Annual Crunchies with the Crescent Bay update. Oculus was bought by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion, and the company has just opened up preorders for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset for $599 a piece.
Which new gadget will win the Crunchie for Hardware of the Year in 2015? The winner will be announced at the 9th Annual Crunchies on February 8 at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, and the best way to experience the Crunchies is to be there in person.
Tickets to the Crunchies are still available starting at $115 on our ticketing page. That ticket includes entry to the main event as well as a fabulous after-party once the show is finished. Hope to see you there!
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