Demo07 launched to the sound of pounding music and a watch-us-build-it video/image montage that amply illustrated host Chris Shipley’s sense of humor. As Shipley said in her opening remarks, Demo this year seems a lot like a reunion tour: A significant portion of the attendees look familiar from years past.
Looking at the 68 companies coming our way in this year's Demo (sorry, Chris, can’t use all caps: DEMO sounds like shouting), Shipley asked herself, “Is there a theme for Demo this year?” She suggested that our current labels for the technology shift we're going through - Web 2.0, SOA, etc. - should instead be people-centric: The age of the empowered individual. Empowered to be mobile, to move markets, to do cool things.
I'm not sure if the lineup actually supports that contention yet, but here’s the list from the opening morning segment, a hodgepodge of presentations labelled "WHERE’S THE INNOVATION? EVERYWHERE."
- Kauffman Innovation Network, Inc.
- ZINK Imaging, LLC
- QTech, Inc.
- 6th Sense Analytics, Inc.
- Eyejot, Inc.
- Wyse Technology, Inc.
- Adobe Systems, Inc.
- Mission Research
- Ceelox, Inc.
- Serendipity Technologies, Inc.
- Symantec Corp.
- Jaman.com, Inc.
- Total Immersion
I’ve included overviews of each below, and will add the URLs and a full overview of all 68 demoers in a subsequent post.
Kauffman Innovation Network: Innovation Unbound
First up was the venerable Kauffman Foundation, which has supported entrepreneur-focused initiatives such as a well-regarded venture capitalists intern program. Laura Paglione and Bo Fishback took the stage to talk about the Foundation’s new entrepreneurial platform, the ibridge network. It’s a database of “innovations” held by universities and others, products and intellectual property developed inside institutional walls. Innovations are searchable by organization, product, and tags. Paglione said that the system is designed to pull information from existing university databases, and makes it easy for IP buyers to actually purchase the IP online. If schools don’t find a ready market of buyers, though, It’s not clear what the incentive is for them to continually post their information, especially across any reasonable range of industries (hi-tech and medical were two that were demonstrated).
ZINK Imaging: The New Polaroid?
Paul Baker had his picture taken with Shipley to demonstrate his “Zero Inc” system. Baker held up a printer about the size of a pack of cards, which had the image wirelessly transmitted to it by Zinc’s CTO. “There’s no ink cartridge inside,” said Baker. Hundreds of millions of tiny heat pulses melt dye crystals to produce full-color prints in a single pass, creating a print that can even be dipped in water. The company hopes to make money by charging a premium for the paper. And because the technology is pretty spare, they also intend to embed the Zinc technology in other products – such as in a camera itself. Though Baker’s demo might have been a little more scintillating, Zinc seemed to be an immediate crowd favorite.
Shipwire.com: Little Companies Get Big Footprints
CEO Damon Schechter talked about his company’s Web-based shipping and inventory logistics service for small businesses. He emulated a small business owner in the U.K. looking to move into the U.S. market, opening a $30 monthly account on Shipwire, describe his shipping requirements, and pointing to locations he’d like products stored and shipped from. Shipwire then provides a shipping address for remote vendors (in 103 countries, Schechter claimed), making the company a virtual receiving platform. Why is this important? It’s a way to rapidly legitimize a small business in a new market to its suppliers and buyers, providing local fulfillment services, and potentially helping the business manage and scale inventory in remote locations.
QTech: Total Reqall
“We all have important things we need to remember, right?” VP Products Deb Miller asked rhetorically. “We all forget.” Any solution, said Sunil Vemuri, Chief Product Officer, “…has to be simple, everywhere, and smart.” Miller demonstrated Reqall, a voice-based system for storing and retrieving notes. Notes are saved by using voice tags, and retrieved from any phone. Benori said that notes can also be received by email and SMS. Miller gave the product URL – www.reqall.com. “And if you had our product, it would be easier to recall,” said Benori.
6th Sense Analytics: Code Catcher
Founders Greg Burnell and Todd Olson talked about the increasingly distributed and global nature of software development teams. There are lots of processes for trying to coordinate the work of these teams, but how can a manager make sure developers store their code efficiently, and how can you know what’s going on? The software auto-finds development tools on each developer’s computer, then creates a “thin” layer of management “sensors” that capture all of a programmer’s development activities, and store it in an online diary of the day’s work of coding. It also keeps granular and comparative records of each individual’s and team’s work – to a level of detail that might be a little uncomfortable for the average developer.
Eyejot: Video Me, Baby
David Geller and Daryn Nakhuda demoed Seattle-based Eyejot’s ability to quickly capture, transmit, and play video messages. After recording a brief message using a laptop-based Webcam, the team showed videos in email messages, a browser, in iTunes and on an iPod. Eyejot also offers a widget that can be embedded in personal Web pages, such as MySpace, and allow people to leave video messages as well. The technology makes it look fast and easy; the question is how simple the process will look to the average consumer.
Honeypitch: Pitched Battle
CEO James Tucker and PR exec Melissa Feinstein showed a way to automate the business sales process for professional and technical service firms. Tucker says there are five important steps in a services sales process: Stand out from the competition; have an easy way to personalize the pitch; get immediate feedback; automate followup; and establish buyer confidence. They showed a “response-based sales environment” that automates “personalized pitches that generate results.” Give them credit for taking a risk: Tucker donned a blonde wig to emulate a design firm executive. However, it seems that Honeypitch sets up a mannered, one-size-fits-all sales process that misses Tucker’s first point –
Wyse Technology: The Ubiquitous (and Thin) PC
“As networks become more powerful, we’ll find that the
devices in those networks will become simpler,” said CEO John Kish. And,
Adobe: Cross-Platform Code
Adobe’s Mike Downey talked about the company’s Apollo Application
Environment, a “cross-operating system runtime” that industry buzz says Adobe
has been working on for some time.
Downey claims that Apollo allows developers to create sophisticated cross-platform applications written with Web technologies such as HTML and Flash. Obviously, a development code library has no user interface to demonstrate, so Downey showed an Apollo application being built by eBay that provided a number of flexible new capabilities for participating in and posting auctions. Apollo can also build applications that can read and write files to disk – which might make security experts a tad nervous.
Mission Research: Hybridize
Mission Research: Hybridize Your Sales
“Hosted applications are so 1999,” began Charlie Crystle,
the company’s CEO. He believes that the next step is “the hybrid Web,” which “merges
the power of the desktop with the power and utility of the Web.” Examples
include Skype, Google Desktop - and SalesWorks. “It’s kind of like a Web site
running on your desktop,” said Crystle. He showed a map “mashup” allowing the
user to drill down to a location such as Mission Research’s base in
Ceelox: The Rise of the Embedded Image
CEO Gerry Euston [not Gary Houston] talked about the need for sending embedded information, such as bank statements, patient records, advertising offers, and private user-generated content, in messages. VP Marketing Don Peterson and David Almodovar [not David Almago], head of business development sent messages back and forth between themselves. Almago dragged and dropped images into the Scram email client, and Peterson showed how he received an encrypted attachment that’s attached to the email message, dropping the attachment into the Scram client. After the user authenticates, the message is opened. They focused mostly on the potential value for marketers - “turning spam into Scram,” as Houston called it -creating better impressions by using rich media. But it requires regular use of a separate client program, which would inevitably slow adoption.
Serendipity Technologies: Consumerizing ERP
Reading from notecards, VP Marketing David Lavenda demonstrated a server-based product designed to help “consumerize” the data search process that will “revolutionize your business forever.” He recited IDC’s frequently-quoted statistic, that information workers spend half their time searching for and analyzing information. Lavenda showed the current process for searching an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, which requires repetitive drilldowns to find critical information. By contrast, Worklight scans application data, and converts it into a secure information “stream,” much like an RSS feed. Users subscribe to, say, a sales information or a customer contact information feed with a few simple clicks, and see the results in their browser.
Symantec: Digital You
Mark Bregman, CTO, showed the venerable “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog” cartoon. In the process of trying to protect consumers wherever they are, Bregman said, “Security 2.0” has two major problems: “One is identity, and the other is reputation.” The Norton Identity Client is a new program that shows reputation information about the Web site that a user is interacting with; the information that’s being requested about them, and tools to manage what information they share. The Client is designed to enable a user to securely share their personal information online. If you join a new site, or buy something online, Bregman claimed, you’ll be able to make more intelligent decisions about sharing that information – to the point of even being told if a site’s untrustworthy. This is Symantec’s attempt to one-up Microsoft’s much-criticized Passport, a fractured attempt to outsource identity management to the Redmond giant. It’s a much-needed capability – but Symantec is setting itself up as the arbiter of identity on the Net, a troubling role that extends far beyond the kind of filtering that spam and child-protection programs exert. Microsoft failed at this kind of centralized trust, and a far better approach would be to leverage the “wisdom of crowds” to let Internet users make decisions about the trustworthiness of sites.
Jaman.com: World Cinema
CEO Gaurav Dhillon demonstrated the Jaman site, “the best
place to discover, enjoy, and share quality video.” After showing a trailer
with a range of foreign films – movies that Dhillon suggested few in the
audience had ever seen – he claimed that the reason was because “less than 1%
of all the films in the world get distribution in the
Total Immersion: Real-time Roger Rabbit
CEO and co-founder Bruno Uzzan initially had to survive the nightmare of a failed demo – and the audience had to puzzle through Uzzan’s rather strong French accent – as the cameras at first failed to show his company’s “augmented reality,” the ability to insert 3d images into video in real time, much like the laborious merger of film and animation used in the original “Who Killed Roger Rabbit?” movie. But Uzzan survived, and he was able to demonstrate a variety of ways that characters and marketing messages could be added seamlessly in front of – and even on – surfaces and people. The company’s technology, first shown here at Demo2004, has come a long way, with dramatically-increased resolution and much better integration into its surroundings. Uzzn’s comments ended as he had a 3D Arnold Schwarzenegger head superimposed on his shoulders. Shipley rightfully lauded Uzzan’s grace under pressure, and the audience rightfully applauded his demo’s resurrection. And because I stayed around to finish this post, I was able to see the truly impressive demo again.