Chris Shipley started the 16th Winter Demo with a call for the tech industry to simplify its technology, making it easier on the user. "The industry must commit to a better user experience. If not, she warned, " People will stop buying and using" the stuff the industry relentlessly seems to produce.
Her morning segment was filled with companies that seemed to echo her theme for simplicity. They include:
- MooBella- of Taunton, MA introduced a vending machine that let's you custom design the flavor of your ice cream. It's already showing up in Massachusetts malls and plans to bring it's chilling effects to a shopping center near you in coming months.
- Blurb introduced an online system that lets customers produce commercial quality book in less than an hour for under $30. Using something she called a "blog slurper" founder-CEO Eileen Gittins complied a 175-page photo-rich coffee table quality book in just a few minutes. The company then binds and ships it to you. We don't know if shipping is included. Either way, it's a fascinating process that takes self-publishing a whole new route, making it possible to publish to an audience of just family members. This was my favorite of the opening 17 presenting companies..
- Bones in Motion has a personal trainer utility that goes into your cellphone, letting a runner get a visual/statistical record of runs. Your routes can be laid over a Google map as well. If the user wishes, the jogs can be uploaded to the company website where it can be shared with others. Now, if it can just improve our best time somehow.
- MP3Car.com introduced StreetDeck a Bluetooth-enabled box that basically creates a networked system for all the digital devices we hazard to use in cars, including MP3 players, cell phones, navigators, etc. Then it posts all the information on a large computer touch screen. It improves organization, visual information and just may stop you from inadvertently careening across multiple screens.
- Network Streaming, of Ridgeland, MS claims that it can provide tech support for any personal computer on Earth over the Internet, even through enterprise firewalls. Big claim and valuable if that proves true.
- Tiny Pictures of San Francisco creates a personal channel on your cellphone where you can take photos and add comments then share the content with just your friends. It reiterates the micro channel's new viability in the same way that Blurb does. Web 2.0 applications are rapidly creating the day that anyone with Internet access can publish what they want to whomever they want, even to just one person.
- Ugobe of Emeryville, CA a robotics and inventions company introduced lovable little Cleo, a robotic dinosaur who has sensors all over his foot-long body and the sort of cute eyes, with drooping lids that makes you want to say, "Awww." Cleo, responds to petting and even mopes puppylike, when you stop playing with him. He senses when he's at the edge of the table, takes puppy nips on fingers and naps after it has played too hard. Insufferably cure and a potential hit if the pricing turns out to be equally appealing.
- GuardID of Hillsborough, CA introduced IDVault which it claims makes it impossible to steal your identity online. It appears impressive, but impossible is the sort of claim that gets a hacker thinking there must be a way.
All in all it was a strong first session, reiterating Shipley's focus on simplicity.