The drumbeat of news about mobile technology can be deafening at times. Smartphones are getting bigger and bigger. The consumerization of IT is a buzzword only slightly less buzzy than cloud computing. Wearable devices of varying utility are flooding into the marketplace. Seemingly every single company in America beyond a certain size has its own official app, most likely for both iOS and Android.
Obviously, much of the noise over new advances in mobile technology is just that – noise. And sometimes, it can drown out the quieter sounds of some of the more innovative new players in the sector.
Here, then, are the soft, developing new themes in the thunderous mobile symphony. Or, if you’re tired of this metaphor already, some mobile startups (listed in no particular order) that are doing new, different and potentially groundbreaking things.
Founded: September 2014
Funding: $4.25 million
Reddo recently grabbed headlines with a $4.25 million funding round, its first since it changed its name from Gizmox last fall. (Under the previous name, the company had raised $18 million.) Reddo’s big idea is to deliver Windows desktop apps to mobile devices via an HTML5 interface – without any coding or script work on the customer’s end.
Founded: June 2011
Funding: $50.5 million
A similar idea is at the heart of Capriza, but instead of desktop apps, the focus is on major enterprise apps like SAP and Salesforce. Capriza is the brainchild of four former executives at Mercury Interactive, a management software company bought by HP for $4.5 billion in 2006.
Founded: early 2000s (bear with us…)
We know – a company founded in the early 2000s doesn’t sound like a startup, exactly. I mean, by now, it should have started and probably finished, right? But it may wind up being worth the wait: Founder and serial entrepreneur Steve Perlman says that the company’s wireless pCell technology will be able to handle vast amounts of 4G traffic using the same handset radios now in use.
Founded: January 2005
Funding: $57.1 million
Another slow-burner, Ostendo has raised a lot of money in an attempt to bring really tiny hologram projectors to your smartphone – how’s that for glasses-free 3D? Founder Hussein El-Ghoroury, who sold a previous venture to IBM in 1997 for $250 million, told the Wall Street Journal last year that 3D-capable chips could be on their way as soon as the second half of 2015, though the company’s current-gen hardware is limited to 2D projection.
Funding: $23 million
Google Glass gets plenty of abuse from the techie press and beyond. Some of that is deserved – it’s a wonky, highly optional accessory for particularly well-heeled nerds, currently – but there are undeniable use cases for it. Enter Augmedix, which is aiming to keep patient information squarely in front of a doctor’s face. There may be just a few privacy concerns to address, of course.
Founded: January 2012
Funding: $14.5 million
GPS is great and all, but it does have its downsides – it’s not all that accurate to a matter of feet or inches, and forget about using it inside. IndoorAtlas’ mapping and location technology, however, is based on tiny variances in the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s accurate, the company says, to within about 3 to 6 feet.
Founded: January 2013
Funding: $10 million
The mobile web is not everyone’s cup of tea, it must be said. As fast as smartphones have become, the browsing experience is still not as fluid as on a full-sized computer. Wildcard wants to shrink a lot of web content into “cards”- little packages of pre-rendered data that, supposedly, load much more quickly.
A lot of the most important mobile technologies of recent vintage revolve around sharing. Share your location info, share your contact lists, share those saucy selfies. The hell with that, says Blackphone, a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone. The company’s eponymous product features a heavy emphasis on security and privacy, boasting a custom Android operating system and several baked-in services for private messaging and file sharing.
Funding: $3.7 million*
XOEye Technologies bills its flagship product as industrial wearables, which is accurate enough – the idea is to provide a remote viewing ability for managers and co-workers of employees working on complicated industrial tasks, using a pair of customized smart glasses.
Founded: June 2014
Semantic Machines is a Boston-based startup that’s still at least partially under wraps – but founder and CEO Dan Roth’s LinkedIn page contains tantalizing hints about what’s to come: natural language processing and artificial intelligence, with the aim of creating advanced voice-enabled mobile agents. Look out, Watson.
* - XOEye Technologies contacted Network World after this story was published to say that investors have pledged an additional $1.5 million as part of a still-open funding round.