It was about five hours into the first of two days of tech presentations at the DEMO Fall Conference in Santa Clara, California last week, when George Zachary of Charles River Ventures let out a big sigh and confessed to the audience “I think I’m all collaborated out.”
Zachary, sitting on a panel of judges, echoed what many at this year’s conference clearly felt. The theme of the week among a host of startups showcasing their new technology in front of media, venture firms, and industry analysts clearly was focused on how to share tweets, emails, photos, store coupons, medical ailments, digital signatures, grandparents, business contacts, traffic reports and even roasted coffee across platforms with everyone in the known world. In other words, collaborate….or die.
Still, among the many young companies on display at DEMO this year, there were quite a few that stood out for their intriguing approach to moving technology forward in some fairly significant areas.
There were several companies who were targeting the medical world. Pristine, one of the early developers of applications using Google Glass, unveiled a new use – first-person video streaming for patient care, including surgery. Another company – Hello Doctor – uploads and stores medical records from multiple sources in one (well-protected) location. And a third firm – Seratis – is an app that “brings together the entire patient care team on a smartphone” by allowing hospital personnel to see all of the caregivers for one person on a central screen.
Cybersecurity remains a hot button issue for many consumers and SnoopWall showcased a new product designed to help smartphone users limit the amount of malware that runs hidden on many devices. “Everyone here today is infected with spyware,” founder Gary Miliefsky told the gathering last week.
There was also a new development on the digital signature front, as a Russian-led team demonstrated a cloud platform called SignToLogin that can accurately verify any unique handwritten signature. If this technology proves out, it could have a big impact on the cumbersome password-driven security layers we all suffer today.
In an effort to streamline the travel industry experience, a company called Ve-Go showcased a mobile app that lets travelers not just book, but also check-in to their hotel room before arrival. There are a number of companies working with the hotel industry to actually allow keyless entry using a smartphone code, but this technology is yet unproven, so Ve-Go customers still have to stop by the front desk to get access to their room.
Although some may feel that email’s time has come and gone, one company has built a tool that generates messages in a much more appealing visual format, using pictures, graphics, and even voice accompaniment. PointDrive’s new email product is clearly designed as a sales tool for professionals, but some consumers might appreciate the opportunity to liven up a technology that today seems as old as computers themselves.
And, in one of the more bizarre new technologies, EmoVu demonstrated software that actually reads facial expressions in real-time as people watch video or other media. Using webcam-generated images, the product “reads” joy, fear, anger, surprise and a host of other emotions on a person’s face and then charts it all in a bar-graph. If EmoVu is successful, then rooms of people in focus groups watching TV pilots or political commercials could soon join bookshops, phone booths, and record stores as the latest casualties of the technology revolution.