Demo Fall 2013: Little Slices of Amazing New Technology
Demo's fall conference took place last week, and it didn't disappoint. This show has proven to be both a great and an expensive experience for me every year. Great because the technology shown is often truly amazing; expensive because I almost always end up buying one or two items, and my taste trends toward pricey. This year was no different, and my product of the week is the product I'd most like to personally own.
So let's get to it.
Mainframe2: The Network Is the Computer
I was pleased to see this product again. I received a personal demo that I had a ton of fun playing with before the show. Basically, what Mainframe2 does is give you a workstation or high-performance PC in the cloud.
The service uses Nvidia Grid as the central technology to provide a massive amount of performance on the cloud through your browser. The demo I received was Adobe Photoshop running in the cloud, and performance was equal to or better than it would be had I been running the application locally.
This means I could use Photoshop on an iPad. I think this is the future of computing. Mainframe2, which has a rather unfortunate name, is pointing to a very interesting future.
Think of IdealAsset Match as a dating service that hooks up IP sellers to IP buyers. It mines both public and, with permission, private IP repositories. Using semantic analysis, it indexes and summarizes the related patents, and people who are looking for properties can then search on and find them.
More importantly, interests are also indexed, allowing the creation of buyer and seller profiles and connecting them virtually so that IP that is just collecting dust can be monetized.
One interesting result of this solution is that patent trolls are starting to look at the product to locate folks developing IP and then coming in and offering to help monetize and protect it in exchange for a piece of the action. This turns what are basically attorney-rich bandits into White Knights.
Justworks - Obamacare That Works
We've all seen that the federal government's implementation of Obamacare is likely the worst tech deployment at scale in the history of technology. Justworks, which now has a somewhat embarrassing name for the administration, is a tool targeting small businesses that helps them organize and provide their employee benefits -- mostly healthcare and payroll.
After watching these guys, I was hit with the Idea that the Obama administration should fire its tech staff and hire the folks from Justworks as replacements, because their solution should just work. For the small company needing a tool for its employees, something both comprehensive and easy is a godsend.
Argopay: 1-Click For Retail
Granted, I kind of thought Argopay might have some IP issues with Amazon, but what its solution effectively does is provide an alternative to a credit card that works like Amazon 1-Click.
The user experience is kind of like a blend of using the iPhone application and Amazon. You go to the cash register with the app open, scan a code to connect the phone to the transaction, and then press Buy to get it. This is very simple, and having it on a smartphone is potentially better than having it on a card.
You are less likely to lose a phone, it is harder to copy a phone, and if a phone is stolen, you possibly can disable the app. You can also get things like balance information as part of the process, which could -- but likely won't -- prevent you from overspending.
Explorer by Bounce Imaging
When Bounce Imaging started, I thought it was nuts. This is a ball with a camera built into it designed for military, police, fire departments, or parents with insane children (OK, I'm kidding about this last one).
It actually makes a ton of sense. You toss the ball into an area, and the ball, which is hardened and uses infrared, sends a 360-degree view while in flight and after landing back to a linked cellphone.
Before the space is entered -- and without putting the person tossing the ball at much risk -- the user can get a clear idea of what to expect. It could be an important tool for rescues, as well as police and military operations, not to mention paintball competition. This has turned out to be really cool, and it's much cheaper than robots or drones.
Bedscales by Genetrainer
The backstory on this product is actually a bit cooler than the product itself. The company, Genetrainer, which is offering this product through a Kickstarter program, takes your DNA information and designs an exercise program based on your DNA. That sounds so 21st Century.
Anyway, the product goes under your bed and monitors both the quality of your sleep and your weight over time. People on diets and other weight management programs are generally not as rigorous as they should be when it comes to weigh-ins. A connected service then can not only report on weight progress, but also can point to behavior that is hurting your sleep and suggest things to do that could help you sleep better.
Wrapping Up: Waze to Vanderveldt
There are always a number of very interesting presentations at Demo. This year a Waze executive gave one that showcased what made this very successful app a success -- it is a GPS program supported by a social network that Google bought for $1 billion and will likely accidentally kill.
Dell's incredible Entrepreneur in Residence Ingrid Vanderveldt gave a presentation on a program funded to empower small businesses run by women and turn them into successes. She works with organizations like the Clinton Foundation to help make this happen. One of the companies receiving support is Current Motors, which sells the electric scooter I fell in love with last year.
All and all, this year's Demo was a fascinating event, but the product I really wanted to buy is...
Product of the Week: The Motorcycle Helmet Steve Jobs Would've Built
There was something ironic about seeing a product on stage that immediately hit me had been built to Steve Jobs' product template named, and I kid you not, "Skully." It was almost as if it had been named after John Scully -- the guy who fired Steve Jobs from Apple and whom Jobs hated until his death.
I'm an ex-biker, and this is largely because the technology that helps me enjoy a ride only works in a car -- that is, until now. The Skully helmet puts GPS navigation and smartphone control, including music access, into the helmet using a heads-up display on the visor.
Not only that, but it has a built in rear-view camera that has an automatic horizon -- shows a level picture of everything, 180 degrees, behind you no matter what angle your head is in. This reminded me of what Iron Man gets to see in his helmet, and it's incredibly cool.
Like a Steve Jobs product, the Skully doesn't do a ton of things -- but what it does, it does amazingly well. I now have motorcycle lust again, thanks to this helmet, and that's what makes it my product of the week.
I'm trying to figure out a way to either buy another bike or get this thing to work with my car.