Greetings from Santa Clara, Calif., where the annual DEMO startup show is winding down. For the past two days, we've heard from 41 startups launching new products upon the world. Will one of these be the next big thing? Perhaps. While launching a product at a show like DEMO seems like a hard prospect, the hard work continues for these startups as they grow their business. <p> I've attended versions of this show for more than a dozen years now (Disclaimer: The event is owned and operated by IDG Enterprise, which also owns Network World), and over the past 5-6 years have done video interviews with several demonstrators. It's no different this year, as I was able to get up close with eight demonstrators that I thought were exceptionally cool or otherwise quite visual (a must for video). To round out the number to "10" for our headline, I've added two videos from the on-stage demonstrations of two other companies:
Skully Helmets' P1
While the entrepreneurs wearing Google Glass units were getting a lot of attention, I thought the folks at the Skully Helmets booth wearing leather jackets were more impressive. They showed off their new motorcycle helmet, which features a Glass-like heads-up display to give riders the ability to access GPS, take phone calls, listen to music and see a view of what's behind them, courtesy of a 180-degree rear-facing camera.
NuRoast coffee roaster
A lot of people are obsessed with their morning cup of coffee (for me, it's Diet Coke), whether they make a run for Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, or brew their own cup via a K-cup machine. Some even grind their own beans, a somewhat obsessive hobby if you ask me. But NuRoast was at the show discussing their prototype unit that aims to make roasting coffee beans an easier process. They were even giving away cups of coffee at their booth, making them a popular attraction.
Bounce Imaging's Explorer
While it's unlikely you'll be buying one of these devices at your local Best Buy, the technology around the Explorer sensor ball from Bounce Imaging is still impressive. For first-responders (fire rescue, police, etc.) heading into dangerous situations, knowing what's behind that door is often of critical importance. This ball includes sensors and cameras that can provide responders with data such as oxygen levels, temperatures and radiation readings, while the camera can give a 360-degree view of the room the ball is thrown into. If law enforcement and firefighters buy into this concept, this could potentially save lives of those groups.
HueTunes drawing/music app
My kids love the variety of music-based and drawing-based apps on my iPad, so HueTunes is definitely going to be a future download. The app mixes the world of drawing with music, so each color becomes a note, and trackers can be used to play the notes when they land on the specific color. Sending people a "song painting" in the future will soon become commonplace.
Magisto phone-based video creator
I've written about Magisto before, but new features launched at DEMO Fall 2013 make it worth another mention. The app takes your photos and videos stored on your smartphone and add professional-level themes, transitions and music (you can add your own music if you like) to create more professional-looking videos. The technology behind the app is quite impressive, as much of the heavy lifting is done via the cloud, and algorithms seem to know exactly what moments amongst your home movies are the most impressive.
If you're in sales, you will definitely like PointDrive. Instead of writing an email and dumping a number of file attachments that get placed at the end of an email, PointDrive organizes your pitch into a more interactive look and feel. Recipients click a link to receive all of their materials via an impressive layout and design, allowing for communication to be more interactive than with email. As seen in my video interview with the company, I wouldn't be surprised to see more job seekers using this platform to submit resumes in the future.
Shoto photo-sharing app
There are a ton of photo-sharing apps on the market, but Shoto is taking advantage of users' locations in new ways. If a bunch of friends or family members are all taking photos at the same location, sharing them and viewing them becomes difficult (especially if one of those friends doesn't get around to sharing them via social networks until weeks later). With Shoto, the app can share photos based on a user's contacts AND their location, making it easier for everyone to see photos from everyone's perspective. Easy-to-use privacy settings (you can prevent the app from sharing specific photos with friends or the world) make this an interesting offering.
SnoopWall mobile privacy app
As we continue to hear about situations where people's phones or tablets get hacked by cybercriminals and other snoops, it was interesting to see the SnoopWall app, which gives app-level control back to the phone's user. The application helps block ports on the phone/tablet often used by malicious apps, giving users more trust that the camera on their phone isn't secretly recording them, for example. It's interesting that this app is being made available first for Android devices, where app trust is certainly a bigger issue than in the more controlled iOS environment.
I didn't get a chance to speak with them at the show, but I was impressed by this company's pitch and concept. The system uses the cloud to enable companies to access their heavy-duty applications via the cloud, rather than putting a bulkier application on a computer or notebook. While this may sound like thin-client computing, the demo of utilizing an application like Photoshop (or a video editor) was quite impressive. If they can manage to do this in low-bandwidth situations (like when someone's in a hotel room editing photos or videos), this could be quite disruptive. Here's their on-screen video, courtesy of the DEMO YouTube channel:
It was pretty eye-opening to hear that many hospitals still rely on older pager networks for communicating with doctors. In a world of smartphones, tablets and other ubiquitous networks, it seems rather odd that pagers still exist. Seratis' solution aims to update those systems - here's their pitch: