If you love technology, you have to love Demo. This year there were 58 companies on stage during the two day conference. Each demonstrator got six minutes to tell their story and show off their product. Here is a list of all the vendors with links to their sites. I didn’t get to visit with all of them but I talked to quite a few. The following are some that I found particularly interesting.
I could have spent a week seeing the demos and especially meeting and talking with the many entrepreneurs at the conference. Some conferences have long speeches. Demo has six minute demos and then plenty of time to chat with the CEO and CTO and marketing exec of the companies. I can’t begin to do justice to the innovative products and services that I saw but I hope the following provides a glimpse of what was going on at Demo.
There were several blogging companies at Demo including Six Apart, Feedster, Technorati, and Oddpost. Ben and Mena Trott from Six Apart did a very nice job of showing their Typepad hosted blogging offering. This is the best tool I have seen for anyone who wants to dabble with blogging but doesn’t really want to install any software and have to learn the internals of blogging.
Groxis said there are 550 billion web pages and that even the best search engine only finds a small fraction of what is there. Their product is called Grokker 2 and it works in conjunction with Google. When you do a search, a great way to get what you are looking for much more quickly because the graphical results allow you to refine your search without having to be a master of Boolean logic. A similar graphical search approach was demonstrated by Fractal Edge UK Ltd. A search results in a display of circles of different colors and patterns. You can visually find your way to what you are looking for. One of those things that is a bit hard to describe — but worth trying.
Speechi showed a technology that allows you to record a presentation or class lecture as you give it and it is then converted into a Flash movie with MP3 sound. It includes using a white board that captures what you write — even multiple colors. The resulting presentation can be played on any platform that supports Flash which is basically all of them. It has a vcr-like interface.
The gentleman from Total Immersion stood on stage waving a flower in his hand. However, when you looked away from the large video screen and looked at him, he had nothing in his hand. It was done with virtual reality. He then showed a virtual helicopter flying around the room with Chris Shipley, executive producer of Demo, in the driver seat. It was completely amazing. You would have to see it to believe it.
There were a number of consumer media products and services shown. They all left something to be desired but they have made great progress and you can see that it won’t be long until we have amazing home entertainment systems available at affordable prices. Akimbo has created a product that is a functional marriage of TV and the Internet, combining easy access to new and fresh video content with the comfort of watching it on your TV. The Akimbo Player—the hardware of the Akimbo system—is a stylish set-top box that connects your broadband Internet service to your television set. Simple on-screen menus make it easy to choose and receive up to 200 hours of high quality video that the Akimbo Service delivers right into your Akimbo Player.
AllMiMedia from BravoBrava! LLC showed a $12/year service which allows TiVo users to remotely program video recording with a wireless device such as their web-enabled cell phone or PDA. For an optional $20/year, it also allows users to view photos remotely and to listen to their music stored on their PC.
I was really pleased to see something for the non-profit market segment. cMarket is a web site that enables a non-profit organization to easily create, extend, market, and manage their fundraising auctions online. This is a really good idea. Non-profits are all being squeezed. Their costs to operate are going up but their donation income is not going as fast. Auctions are an excellent way for them to raise money.
More than a few companies at Demo where there to unseat Microsoft in some way. Some think that is impossible but I admire the courage and determination that these upstarts displayed. Evermore Software Ltd. (Yozo), from China demonstrated Evermore Integrated Office (EIOffice). They called it "the first REAL Office". EIOffice 2004 is a seamlessly integrated Office environment. Unlike separate applications thrown together into a suite, "designed by a marketing plan, then forced to work together", EIOffice 2004 delivers one user interface, programmed under one roof, by one team, with one design, one file format, providing true data integration, focused on enhanced user productivity. All your Office applications have now been integrated into a single program. When the demonstrator launched EIOffice 2004 a single application appears that included a word processor, spreadsheet and business graphics application. All text, worksheets, slides, presentations, charts, tables and graphs are controlled from one application using a simple and intuitive interface. It was quite impressive. They plan to charge $99. Not sure that is low enough to cause people to switch.
Bloomba claims to have an "Outlook killer". It is quite impressive and I especially liked the way the files are structured. Instead of a single file that contains everything Microsoft Outlook saves, it breaks things into files by month. It basically archives everything monthly. I think this is a superior approach, especially from a backup point of view. I will install the Bloomba CD on the flight home and give it a try. Microsoft has made a lot of improvements in Outlook 2003, but there is a lot to be desired. I have never met anyone who doesn’t have complaints about Outlook.
Expertcity announced their "GoToMeeting" service, a technology that provides an easy and secure means for conducting meetings and demonstrations online. GoToMeeting can connect participants that may each be using a different instant messaging platform. As soon as all of the desired people appear on line at the same time, the desired e-meeting can begin. I plan to give this a try as soon as I get home.
As I predicted some time ago, venture capital is going into companies that are fighting spam. There were some very interesting companies showing their capabilities in this area. Some of them have gone way beyond spam filtering and have developed technology for Internet service providers which identifies inbound spam and blocks it before it even gets sent. Very impressive.
There are dozens more to talk about but I will wrap this up with some comments about just two more. Look at the demonstrator list if you are want to look at some more of the companies.
Memento introduced a software suite that measures and monitors the business value of enterprise applications. I was really impressed with what they have done. Basically their took analyzes a business transaction, customer sign ups for a new service for example, and determines what software instructions are actually executed. Memento can then monitor whether the transactions are happening. By setting tops down goals, like reducing expense by getting customers to enroll in some form of self-service, a company can determine if they are actually making progress at this or not. It may sound trivial but since business processes span multiple enterprise applications, it is not so simple to know if a process is actually happening or not.
Voltage Security. If I had to say which of the 58 products and services I liked the best, I would have to give the edge to Voltage. They have developed a new approach to using encryption for secure email. I have written a lot about this subject — in my book, Net Attitude, and also here at patrickWeb. One of the great challenges in getting high adoption of encrypted email is that to encrypt a message you need the public key of the recipient. You can get that from a "key server" at MIT or pgp.net or various other servers. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to get a key in the first place. Others have one at one of the key servers but it is expired. With Voltage, the email address of the recipient is used to create the public key. When the encrypted message is received, the recipient gets their private key from a Voltage server and can then decrypt the message. All this happens transparently. Lotus Notes solved the problem inside the enterprise more than 15 years ago, but this new approach from Voltage is scaleable across the worlds population on the Internet.