Consumer Technology Association inducts Ray Kurzweil, 11 other visionaries into the 2017 Consumer Technology Hall of Fame

November 16, 2017

Gary Shapiro (left) and Ray Kurzweil (right) (credit: CTA)

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) inducted Ray Kurzweil and 11 other industry leaders into the Consumer Technology (CT) Hall of Fame at its 19th annual awards dinner, held Nov. 7, 2017 at the Rainbow Room, atop 30 Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

CTA, formerly Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), created the Hall of Fame in 2000 to honor industry visionaries and pioneers.

A noted inventor, author, and futurist, Ray Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. He has written five national best-selling books, including New York Times best sellers The Singularity Is Near (2005) and How to Create a Mind (2012).

This year’s honorees also include Mike Lazaridis, founder of BlackBerry, which created the first smartphone; Mitch Mohr, founder of Celluphone; and Charles Tandy, legendary retailer. Also honored: the team that developed the MPEG video-file-compression technique — Leonardo Chiariglione, PhD, and Hiroshi Yasuda, PhD; and the team responsible for developing a breakthrough circuit that enabled high-power sound amplification with low distortion — McIntosh Labs founder Frank McIntosh and McIntosh president Gordon Gow.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, praised the inductees for their contributions to the growth of the $321 billion U.S. consumer technology industry.

Kurzweil: “A bright future”

Concluding the evening, Kurzweil gave a few predictions on where he sees the industry heading: “Technology is accelerating, it’s growing exponentially. Technology is also miniaturizing. We will have devices that are as powerful as our cell phones today that are the size of blood cells in the 2030s, and they will go through our bloodstream, keeping us healthy.

“Technology has been making life better. Over the next decade with biotechnology, we will get little devices that are robotic, intelligent and can augment our immune system. I think the future is going to be dramatically better.

“Despite the progress that I’ve alluded to — there’s still a lot of human suffering — it is the advance of these exponential technologies that is going to help us overcome age-old afflictions like disease, poverty, and environmental degradation. If we keep our focus on both the promise and the peril, we’ll have a very bright future.”

With the 2017 class, the CT Hall of Fame grows to 246 inventors, engineers, retailers, journalists, and entrepreneurs who conceived, promoted, and/or wrote about the innovative technologies, products and services that connect and improve the lives of consumers around the world. The Hall of Fame inductees have been selected by a group of media and industry professionals, who judge the nominations submitted by manufacturers, retailers and industry journalists.

Complete profiles of the honorees will be included in the forthcoming November issue of It Is Innovation (i3) magazine.