The DEMOfall 09 show in San Diego showcased more than 60 companies offering pitches of new companies and products aimed to make your life better, whether as an individual user or at your company. Here are a few of my favorites:
Emo Labs certainly captured most of the buzz at the show – the company showcased technology that could add better speaker systems to flat-panel TVs and desktop computer monitors. As TVs and monitors have gotten flatter, speaker systems have often had to shrink to comply with the TV's thinness, creating a smaller sound. Owners who wanted big sound from their new flat-panel TV have needed to attach larger speakers to the TV, attaching them with wires, etc.
Emo Labs developed its Edge Motion technology, in which tiny motors apply force along the sides of a flat, lightweight and transparent membrane. The motion generates sound saves that then radiate perpendicularly from the surface, giving users the sound directly from the screen instead of from a tiny speaker. The technology can be applied to TVs, desktop monitors and all-in-one PC systems. The company is aiming to then move into notebook monitors and even smaller devices like smart phones.
I didn't think a comparison shopping site was needed these days, but Cazoodle helped convince me otherwise. The site utilizes large scale data integration technology to scan thousands of Web sources to create a deeper list of options for shoppers, quite often providing better prices.
For example, on a digital camera search, Cazoodle returned 610 offers compared with 33 offers at a leading shopping site. Cazoodle also launched an apartment-hunting site and a Firefox plug-in called Shopping Caddy that watches what you're browsing and can find offers from other vendors as well as alert you when the product drops to a specified price. Beyond that, the technology seems ripe for other search-based queries, including job listings, university searches, and even news aggregation. The company seems ready to build its own sites, or partner up with other companies already doing search or looking for in-depth search analysis.
TravelTrac launched a Web site that allows travelers to share "adventures" with friends, family or the public at large. The site lets you upload photos, videos, journal entries and even geo-locations to the site, letting people know about some of the different things you've experienced along the way (like when you find that really cool Stuckey's). The cool part is a free iPhone app that lets you snap photos, add a location (via the iPhone's GPS), add journal entries or even upload videos (if you have an iPhone 3GS). The "adventure sharing" feature is fun, and adding locations along the way can let family members know where you are on your journey. E-mail alerts can be sent to friends/family during the trip, giving peace of mind during a road trip, for example. Beyond the vacation aspects of the site, I can see the technology being used in business scenarios, allowing traveling employees to easily geo-tag their locations and provide text updates and photos during their workday.
Finally, there was Date Check, a free mobile application from Intelius that lets users perform instant background checks on people they meet (or potential dates). The application includes features like a Sleaze Detector, which searches criminal records based on the person's name and state; a "Compatibility" search based on their astrological sign; a "Net Worth" search that provides property ownership information; and "Living Situation" search that finds out if the person lives alone, with roommates or with his parents (or a spouse!). The application generated lots of buzz at the show (the company had a highly entertaining on-stage demo), and it's an interesting application developed from Intelius' large database of people-based information sources. The company had previously launched its iSearch application at the DEMOfall 08 show.
There were a lot of other cool companies and products from the show – be sure to check out our video interviews with other companies.