This past year was a big one for innovation, but few technologies saw as exponential a rise as the mobile app.

The creative range could be seen among some of our favorites, such as Eureka — the iPad magazine created by The Times of London that takes interactivity to a new level or Flipboard, the news aggregator app that allows readers to curate a group of publications and easily share the articles.

Meanwhile, music lovers got to revel in Aweditorium, a visual, auditory, and informational journey through a world of bands, videos, and songs. Elements showed that you don’t have to be a Phd. or science geek to creatively interact with the periodic table of elements. And Star Walk provided an interactive guide to the sky just by pointing your IPhone 4 towards the stars. And these are just a handful of the ones that snared us among the thousands out there already.

GE has been in the app fast lane, too — from consumer-friendly apps such as healthymagination’s Morsel, which helps people chip away at unhealthy habits, to GE Lighting’s Mood Cam app, which let’s you snap a picture of a room and see how different lighting styles might look to CNBC Real-Time, the only free app that offers real-time stock quotes from the NYSE and NASDAQ before, during, and after market hours. (The professional version gives real-time information and analytics on over 100 international markets.)

But three that particularly caught our eye this year are the ones that most people might not at first think of when it comes to apps — as they’re for planes, trains and electric utilities.

PDS Movement Planner: This app for GE rail customers provides real-time rail monitoring of all things “train.” Currently in a pilot program, it can revolutionize transportation solutions by providing information on traffic, track scheduling, cargo information, geo-location, and train speed. This app makes it possible for rail companies to leverage the Movement Planner software system — which acts like air traffic control for railroads — on the go so that they know everything going on with each train they have in transit.

Transformers: This colorful and vivid app, also in a pilot phase, allows customers, GE sales teams, and field service engineers to remotely monitor and diagnose GE transformers and transformer stations that supply electricity to homes and business around the country. The real-time sensor data helps improves efficiency and problem solving, which benefits both GE and its customers.

MyEngines: With MyEngines, GE Aviation customers can get up-to-the-minute information on the location of their jet engine in the maintenance or repair cycle. Imagine being able to take your car to the mechanic and knowing exactly what is happening with it at any moment — that’s what GE has made possible for jet engine customers.

“Within our Mobile COE [Center of Excellence], we have a cross-section of technologists from every GE business and division, all focused on moving our mobile efforts forward,” says Murali Narassiman, GE’s Mobile COE Leader.

Adds James Blomberg, GE’s Director of New Media & Emerging Technology: “Having a robust and vibrant suite of mobile applications that align with and complement our software ecosystem sets the digital future for GE.”

 

On the go: The Movement Planner app is fueled by an advanced software system that analyzes train schedules, traffic control systems and train movements relative to each other and then creates an optimized traffic plan for the trains.

Power tools: The Transformer app for monitoring electrical transformers also comes in an iPad app. As econsultancy.com noted in a recent story, it’s easier for engineers in the field who wear gloves to use the iPad version.

Jet set: The MyEngines app is tied to GE’s software that tracks overhaul progress; allows for urgently needed materials to be researched and ordered; monitors the health of critical engine parameters; and helps engineers make decisions by accessing engine specs and verifying compliance with service bulletins.

* Try out GE’s Patient Shuffle app, the game that let’s you see how tough it is to run an busy emergency room