The long wait and building anticipation end at 3 p.m. today for the 55 companies who entered the SIA New Product Showcase. That’s when they’ll learn how their products stacked up against the competition as the Best in Category, Judges’ Choice and Best in Show Awards will be announced.

Two new categories – Green Solutions and Mass Notification Systems – joined the mix this year, bringing the total number of categories to 27.

The exposure and recognition companies from winning NPS Awards can make a big difference for a company. Just ask Fred Koonz of Xtralis. In 2010, the company won the Best in Category Award for Fire/Life Safety. Last year, Xtralis won the Judges’ Choice Award for its OSID product.

“We’re a rather smaller player up against larger, monolithic companies, so winning such a prestigious honor brings us attention we wouldn’t otherwise get,” Koonz says. “You can’t really ask for more than that validation from the judges, who are very objective and are experts in their field.”

So who will win this year’s coveted awards? We’ll find out at 3 p.m. at the special events stage in Booth 14035.

For a more in-depth look at the winning entries, join the Best in Show and Judges’ Choice winners tomorrow morning for SIA’s NPS Winners’ Forum at 9 a.m. in room 502. Representatives from the two winning companies will talk about their products and the NPS process in general, followed by a Q&A session.