The Economistís Innovation Award for Consumer Products

The Economist's Innovation Award for Consumer Products and Services given to pioneer Steven Sasson of Eastman Kodak Company for contributions to photography and imaging which have revolutionised the face of consumer photography.

- The invention of the digital camera began with a 30-second conversation when Mr Sasson's supervisor asked whether it was possible to build a camera with a new type of electronic sensor called a charge-coupled device.
- Mr Sasson's original prototype weighed eight pounds, recorded black and white images to a cassette tape, had a resolution of 0.01 megapixel and took 23 seconds to capture its first image. In 1978, Mr Sasson was issued a US patent for the digital camera and Eastman Kodak was the first company to develop a megapixel digital camera in 1986, and one of the first companies to develop a consumer digital camera.

- Come and meet Mr Sasson, inventor of the digital camera, as he accepts an award at The Economist's Innovation Awards Ceremony in London on October 29th. He will be joined by seven additional 2009 Innovation Award Winners who will also be recognised for turning their innovative ideas into reality. The Innovation Summit will follow the next day at the Dorchester Hotel on October 30th. This unique Awards Ceremony and Summit is the only event of its kind focusing on the interface between innovation and business.

- The Economist's Eighth Annual Innovation Summit provides an opportunity for delegates to meet the greatest thinkers and doers of this world in an inspirational setting, take away content relevant to their business and hear from the 2009 Innovation Award winners. This year's line-up of speakers includes: Sachin Duggal, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nivio, a service that provides a PC desktop that can be accessed through any web browser, and Syl Saller, Global Innovation Director, Diageo, who oversees all new product development and launch programmes worldwide, as well as the management of research and development.

- Previous winners in the category of Consumer products and services Innovation include Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, founders of YouTube for their work building multi-media content sharing, and Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo for his leading role in shaping the video-game industry.


Judge's quote:
"Steve Sasson's digital camera invention was not a simple improvement on the status quo . . . ultimately it rendered the existing technology virtually obsolete. It revolutionized photography for professionals and amateurs alike and created unlimited possibilities for digital images. It's remarkable and fitting that an employee at an icon of the "old technology" (Kodak) pioneered the seismic disruption. The Economist Innovation Awards are not for "theoretical breakthroughs", but are earned by innovations proven in the competitive marketplace where consumers reward winners with hard earned Euros and Dollars. Sasson's digital camera innovation certainly qualifies as a market proven game changer." - Jeffrey D. Weedman, Vice President, External Business Development, Procter & Gamble Company

Winner's quote:
"I am very honoured to receive this recognition. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been part of the digital transformation of the photographic industry over the last 35 years. Although this transformation has changed much about the way we take pictures, in the end, the challenge is the same. We are dealing with people's most precious possessions, their personal memories. Whether these reside on film, a file on a computer disk or a Flash microchip the technology at issue must always meet the goal of reliably capturing, storing, and sharing these most valuable moments. That has been and will always be our primary mission. Again, I want to thank The Economist for this distinguished recognition." - Steven Sasson, Eastman Kodak

Sponsor's Quote
"Only infrequently does an innovation appear that truly changes the game. Yet when Steven developed the first digital camera, this is exactly what he did. Innovation is about daring to see the world differently - but here at ?What If! we believe that truly great innovation takes much more. It takes the tenacity to sweat the idea until it really works for the business and the consumer. It takes the passion to push through the inevitable obstacles on the way to market. Finally, it takes the ability to manage the delicate balance between creativity and reality all through that journey. By creating the digital camera, and by developing and growing the photography and imaging markets over the last thirty years, Steven and Kodak have in our view delivered innovation at its best. Congratulations." Atif Sheikh, global client director and a senior inventor at ? What If!.

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