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ToolboxOf all the many conferences I attend each year, my favorite is Demo. Many conferences offer insight in various ways. All conferences offer a chance to network with friends and colleagues from the industry. Only Demo offers the chance to meet with the top couple of people from dozens of technology companies, see their product in action, and discuss their plans and strategies with them. The conference is attended by analysts, consultants, editors, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs. This year was special because it was the fifteenth year of Demo. There were several people there who had attended fourteen of the fifteen (I have been to thirteen of them). There were 73 companies showing off their new offerings.
Various stories have appeared in the media about Demo this week and news about the conference will reach 250 million people around the world via print and online media. Chris Shipley is the Executive Producer for DEMO Conferences and she always opens the conference with her vision of where things are headed and what technologies will have the biggest impact. Half or so of the companies get six minutes to tell their story and do their demo on stage — others get one minute. During half of the morning and half of the afternoon, the 750 attendees get to mingle at the company booths. Needless to say, a lot of networking occurs and much of it leads to new relationships and in some cases financing.
Chris says that she gets to be like a kid in a candy store – she looks at more than a thousand companies in order to select the ones that present at Demo. At breaks, colleagues always ask each other "see anything you like?". I always do. It is hard to summarize the excitement I felt for what I saw. I’ll highlight a few things I saw but you can see a one page summary and link for each company at the demo ALUMNI page.
Intellifit is a technology made for me. You walk into a large kiosk (roughly ten feet in diameter). An administrative assistant places shoulder pads on you and you place your hands on your hips in a certain way. She closes the door and a ten foot high scanner rotates around you. You walk out of the kiosk and are handed a printout that shows your height, chest size, waist, hips, and inseam. You are now ready to order clothing that fits. Their business model is to install these in shopping malls and have the clothing manufacturers pay for them. Attendees (including me) stood in line to get measured and then sent to a web site to order a free pair of Levi’s jeans. Can’t wait to see if they fit.
Novint Technologies, Inc.is in the field of haptics. The Novint Falcon is the first haptic interface device to bring interactive 3D touch to the mass market. This is one of those things you have to see to believe. The Falcon, which is expected to retail for under $100, coupled with their 3D touch software, enables people to experience a realistic sense of touch while interacting with their computer. It actually gives you the ability to touch and feel things on your computer – to touch a piece of sandpaper that you see on your PC and feel its gritty surface against your fingertip or feel the force of a golf club as it swings and connects with a ball. I was quite impressed. This product may change the way we play games on computers and also how engineers design products.
In The Chair has an interesting musical concept. you download some music from their site and then you play a musical instrument of your choice (a real one) and the software coaches you to learn the piece. A lot of potential here. They have just 300 songs now but have plans to partner with a major symphony orchestra to gain additional content. I would love to try this with the Mozart clarinet concerto — which I have not played for quite a few years.
Imprivata has a single sign-on technology that handles PC or mainframe applications and logs you on using a fingerprint reader. I use a similar application at home and it really simplifies things. A slew of other security companies showed some tools for detection and risk management. The tools are getting very sophisticated. The bad guys are certainly getting more clever and it is good to see that there are tools to keep up and hopefully pull ahead.
Autoxray plugs into your car’s OBD port. Turns out all cars made since 1996 have an OBD port but most of us have no reason to use it. With autoxray, any of us could plug the device into the port and be able to see any problem conditions the car may have. The most likely thing of interest is the “check engine” light. With autoxray you can now know exactly why the light is on and what to do about it.
iControl Networks is a home automation system for the mass market. it provides a simple web interface that gives you a view of everything going on in your house. It allows a homeowner to monitor the status of every door and window from a web browser wherever you may be. You can also check the temperature and change the thermostat setting. You can look at what is going on in various rooms via webcams.
MDA showed a handheld stereo camera that produces three-dimensional models as easy as taking a picture.
Meru showed a WiFi technology that allowed simultaneous transmission of voice, audio, and video streams with no detectable distortion.
Mission Research has developed a suite of software called GiftWorks that makes IT simple for non-profits. The context sensitive menus make it easy to track donors, donations, and events.
Motorola demonstrated a new audio system that allows you to listen to digital music on your phone, in your car or in your home, all being directly controlled by the phone! It was an incredible demo.
Vlogit is a tool that enables video blogging in a professional way. The demonstrator looked like he was a TV reporter as he showed it. A second product called Ovation brought pizzazz to PowerPoint presentations by adding dynamic slides and a teleprompting capability.
Ntera has a “white and bright” replacement for the normal LCD screens we are so used to. The demonstrator showed two iPods — one with the normal gray screen and another fitted with Ntera’s screen. The difference was huge. They claim the bright white background screen draws 90% less power than normal screens.
Newtech demonstrated an amazing package of video production tools that fit into a backpack and allow for the creation of professional video programming. You had to be there to see it to believe it.
Satori Labs, Inc. has a product called FusionForm captures and transforms handwritten data into digital text that is easily integrated into computerized physician order entry and electronic medical records systems. This is an important technology because healthcare professionals not being able to painlessly enter patient information in a natural and familiar manner is a definite roadblock to improved and less costly healthcare.
Realtime Enterprises showed a web services application that integrates with Outlook. It allows you to book an Avis rental car and have the reservation show up in your Outlook calendar. The potential is to integrate all your travel arrangements — hotel, car, air travel — with your calendar and expense accounts.
Streambase showed tools to create a streaming data application. Most data in applications today is stored data. Streaming data from financial markets or sporting events represents a huge potential for new applications. Streambase provides a tool to build apps which can receive streams of data, make computations on it, and display and transmit the results.
Teleo has an Internet calling service, similar to Skype but with some extra features. The main difference is that enables you to receive inbound calls from any phone. When you sign up for Teleo you get a phone number that is tied to you, not to a phone. Teleo claims their VoIP service allows Internet calls to get through any firewall. One nice feature is that if you see a phone number on any website, you can click on the number and Teleo will call it.
Jotspot uses Wikis to offer “situated apps”. Rather than create spreadsheets or lists of information and email it to others, Jotspot lets you use a web-based application to create, edit, and share the information. By creating the data on a server with Jotspot you can be sure the data is always the latest and through the web access everyone can see it and use it. It includes version control which provides a safety net that allows you to go back to a prior version in case some errors were made.
See the complete list of companies with a one page summary of who they are and what they are doing.