DEMOthemes: Search, Security And Photos

from the themes-reassert-themselves dept

Yesterday I noted that there didn't really seem to be many "themes" in the first day of DEMO -- which I actually thought was a good thing. The only one I noticed was that there were too many search companies. I spoke too soon. Way too soon. Day two of DEMO started out with a ton more search related companies, followed up by a bunch of photo related companies (there were a few on day one also) and then a bunch of security companies. So, those were the "hot" areas -- though, the buzz was just how half-baked many of the solutions were. Lots of interesting potential, but everyone wanted to add caveats about how much further most of these solutions need to go. That's not uncommon for DEMO, where many of the launching companies are early on. However, after a bunch of demos I found myself wondering how much more powerful some of these offerings might be if you could string two or three of the different products together into a single offering. Anyway, Riya probably got the most overall buzz -- but considering just how much hype they already had over the past few months, it was hard to get too excited about their offering (which, it would appear, broke DEMO's rules by having demonstrated their product in the past). Lots of folks liked the pet/toy dinosaur and the ice cream -- but mainly because they were "different." Click on through to get a few more thoughts on some of the companies that presented. I tried to discuss ones that either didn't get as much attention or where I didn't agree with what many people were saying about them.Lots of people were trashing StreetDeck.com after the conference for having a niche solution that just few people would buy. The company makes a system for connecting all kinds of standard computer and electronic equipment into the car environment. It also came up with a unique touch screen interface specifically designed with in-car usage in mind. I agree that the company has challenges, but it seemed like too many people were simply assuming that the company was pitching an end-user product, rather than an enabling platform for all kinds of in-vehicle computing. There was also talk that the company wouldn't get anywhere without an automaker partner -- something the company has been working on. Apparently they're already working with Ford, and are talking to other automakers as well. There are challenges, but the company seems to have the right idea.

Garageband launched their Gpal offering, which is basically an attempt to put a Last.fm/Pandora type music recommendation system onto your iPod and iTunes playlist. It also includes tie-ins with new artists on Garageband which is a good idea. Still, there's a lot of competition in the music personalization space, and it seems like everyone may still be a few iterations away from getting it right.

IPswap is trying to setup a marketplace for simple programming tasks with the added "feature" that both the requester and the programmer can then set a revenue share for any future buyers of the same software. Seems like one of those ideas that sounds great in theory and on the whiteboard -- but getting people to actually buy in is a huge challenge.

While everyone was fawning over Riya's facial recognition, it seemed like Nexidia's audio recognition for search was even more impressive. It wasn't entirely clear how the company did its magic, but it made for an impressive demo. Being able to quickly and accurately search through audio and video files is pretty powerful -- much more so than just recognizing a face.

I have to say that the only thing I could think about while watching Zinkkat demo a piece of plastic shaped like a giant chili pepper, was that it sounded like the latest incarnation of the CueCat. Cute plastic shapes acting as computer peripherals just don't seem to catch on.

Locamoda seemed to confuse some people, and the company needs to get its messaging down a bit -- but offerings that allow the digital and physical worlds to blend can be very powerful. In their case, they allow mobile phones to act as remote controls for digital signage, allowing someone to get more information directly. It has a lot of potential if done properly.

Steelcase subsidiary Polyvision definitely has put a lot of thought and effort into their modern conference room system, but there's gotta be an awful lot of added value to convince companies to outfit each of their conference rooms with a $100,000 system.

The Vivid Sky system to bring more info to fans sitting at a sporting event sounds cool -- but is way too reliant on sporting venues buying into it. Also, proprietary hardware? Ick. Considering the venue, those things are going to get smashed up pretty quickly, adding to the expense. The company should focus on making similar software to run on smartphones, PDAs and laptops instead.

It's almost hard to believe that SimpleFeed is a company. It's really not that hard to create RSS feeds -- and it's hard to see how this company can stay in business just by building feeds for corporate communications.

Astav is one of those ideas that sounds cool... until you think about how it would work in practice. It's a system to protect you from credit card fraud, basically by calling your mobile phone every time you make a transaction to make sure it's really you making the transaction. Yes, this will prevent fraudulent use of your credit card... but, considering how infrequently that happens, it's most likely to just be a nuisance for most people. If you have to wait for a phone call and answer it affirmatively every time you use your credit card, it adds a lot more friction to the transaction process, and that's not what people want.

So, overall, a lot of interesting ideas -- many of which have potential, but will need to evolve over time.



Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Moogle, Feb 9th, 2006 @ 7:01am

    An idea for Astav

    If they could get some sort of cellphone integration, it'd be nice to have a way to tell it to authorize the next transaction that's under $###. Even without the integration, it wouldn't be too hard to just call a programmed number and have it respond to a voice command like "under 150", "about 230", using caller ID to verify you. Or entering a quick pin in addition if you're worried about Caller ID spoofing.

    I should patent this idea, right? *gets pelted with tomatoes* Ack! Kidding, kidding!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Agonizing Fury, Feb 9th, 2006 @ 2:52pm

    Streetdeck looks pretty cool

    I can't believe people were talking bad about street deck. I've been waiting sooo long for a product like this (in fact, I've been putting together a list of the hardware I would need, and thinking of a good way to design the interface). Granted $1,700 is a little pricey, but when you consider the cost of some in car stereos nowadays, plus GPS Navigation it's really quite reasonable. I'm gonna start saving up my pennies.

     

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