The best business innovations of 2014

Clear Final
CLEAR smart security pre-screening means getting to your flight faster

There's no question that 2014 was a year of great innovation for business technology. From faster airport security screening, to longer lasting smartphones and much easier mobile payments at retail, these advancements helped to make business life more productive.

1. CLEAR airport pass

One of the great challenges for business travel is getting through airports faster, making your flight, and getting to your meeting on time. In 2014, we saw the introduction of the CLEAR pre-screening system. With CLEAR, you can bypass the security line and, using a biometric scanner for your fingerprint or iris, walk directly through the metal detectors.

The innovation is important because of how much it expanded. It's installed at airports in San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, Orlando, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Westchester. Miami and Los Angeles will also get the upgrade soon.

2. Long lasting batteries

2014 was the year smartphones finally started lasting longer, although we're still waiting for phones that last all week. The first sign of good news came from a company called StoreDot in April when they posted a video that showed how a smartphone could charge up in 30 seconds. It's not available for the masses, but it proved prescient when the Motorola Droid Turbo debuted, a phone that also charges up quickly (you can get eight hours of charge in only 15 minutes) but even more importantly lasts much longer using a massive 3,900mAh battery with a longevity of 48 hours per charge.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is a much slimmer, lighter phone that accomplishes a similar feat using an "ultra" power-saving mode that turns the screen black and white and disables apps, but pumps out another two days of usage.

3. FIDO security

With multiple high-profile hacks in 2014, from the recent Sony infiltration to the celebrity nude photo hack that compromised Apple iCloud passwords, it became obvious that businesses needed a better way to protect their data.

With devices like the Yubico FIDO U2F Security Key and Google 2-Step Verification, which you load onto a FIDO USB key, business users can rely on two-factor authentication. If the key is not present, it is impossible to gain access.

Apart from the less common biometric security enhancements, including one called MyIris that scans your iris to gain access to a computer, having a hardware key adds a layer of security but also makes the login process faster and more intuitive.

4. Easy videoconferencing with Chromebox for Meetings

Both Dell and Asus released new videoconferencing computers in 2014 based on the Google Chromebox for Meetings operating system. Designed specifically for small teams in a company to chat over video using the included video camera and high-quality speakerphone, the small Chromebox also fits nicely in a conference room and doesn't look too obtrusive.

The OS boots directly into Google Hangouts and IT admins and meeting organisers can send meetings to a calendar so the people in the conference just click a link to get started. The computers can also boot into Chrome OS for normal productivity computing sessions.

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.