The ever-popular Chris Shipley kicked off DEMO 2006 with a "sweet 16" of product launches for the day. (This the 16th year for DEMO.) Here's some sound bites from this morning's six-minute demonstrations:
StreetDeck comes from MP3Car.com and is (duh) essentially a computer integrated into your car - the difference is that it's designed to be user-friendly, like a consumer PC that you can run your own applications on. The touchscreen interface is reminiscent of the Palm OS. Sample applications: access to your own MP3 lists and multidimensional direction maps that you can tilt in the screen window, and though they remain flat you more intutively feel yourself 'driving' in the right direction. StreetDeck also talks to your cell phone, so you can pull up your address book in and make calls from the touchscreen, which is easier than having to menu through the phone.
StreetDeck was quite interesting, but I would bet that direct consumer adoption will be a tough hurdle. I know that I would hesitate to monkey with my car's computer electronics, especially in order to integrate a device that runs my own software. I don't worry about a software virus on my desktop killing me. That being said, it would become a very compelling offering if offered by the dealer, with assurances of protection. Alternatively, it's pretty compelling for me since my car has very few electronics embedded (I drive a stick, two-seater roadster.) The StreetDeck system would basically be standalone in this case.
The DigiSmart projection system from Digislide Holdings has interesting potential, but still needs some work. (The company is looking for $9.75M to finish development and a business plan.) This system integrates with your phone, PDA, or laptop and creates a 11" x 17" projection. From the audiencem, this looked dim and small, so it's most applicable if sharing video from something with a very small screen (like a phone). I'm not sure that this is worth it if working with my laptop, which already has a 15" screen.
Tiny Pictures (FKA the Fours Initiative) launched a phone client for picture sharing called Radar. It's quite nicely done. The idea is to share your life stream of experiences with your friends and family, which possibility is uniquely enabled given the preponderance of cameraphones. The most neat thing about the client is that it's not only for smart phones, but for any Java phone. There's also a browser-enabled version for people who don't have Java-enabled phones, but have a phone with a browser.
Most cool! The inventor of the Furby has a new venture called Ugobe, and has invented a new robotics toy called the Pleo. (Pleo is a very, very cute baby dinosaur.) The audience watched the initial activation of the Pleo, and with time and learning the actions become more sophisticated. The motion is much more lifelike than the Aibo.
Zingee is peer-to-peer file sharing for any kind of file that you want to make available from your desktop. Individuals can add Web links to any desktop content, and then share those links over blogs, emails, etc. About freaking time!
GarageBand just launched a service for iPods called Gpal. This service-based application helps music listeners to create and share smart playlists; CEO Ali Partovi thinks that it will replace music radio. Gpal automatically creates playlists based on any artist that you select. Based on that selection, the application sets up a randomized playlist based on what other artists sound like the artist selected. Right now, matches are based upon editorial selectionn, but over time this will get smarter based upon how other individuals are combining artists in their lists. Gpal also allows you to discover new artists, with automatic downloads of free material from other artists, and automatically adding new artists that emerge to your existing playlist if they are a style match. What I liked was that the names would be added even if I didn't already own any songs by that artist...so in the future, if I do purchase a song from that artist, my iPod will know that it goes in that list.
The Multiverse Network makes it possible for real, community-developed online worlds to emerge, so I took special note of this product. In its first week, 2200 game developers have already signed up to be part of the Multiverse beta program. The company is talking to several game developers with $MM budgets who are interested in using the Multiverse Platform to build their game. Film developers are interested in using Multiverse Platform to build virtual worlds based upon their film projects. (James Cameron has signed up with interest, and agreed to be an advisor.) For context, the company notes that World of Warcraft cost $55M to make, and that their system will allow independents to enter the massively-multiplayer online gaming (MMOG) market without betting on an individual title.
CNET touted a new product to drive cross-selling. Most of the offering seemed to be good common sense, but there was a true innovation: they only charge success fees, so if you don't have any add-on sales, you don't pay them a dime.
ID Vault from GuardID Systems enables consumers to 'take control of their online identity' by selling them a two-factor, token-based sign-on product. The user enters one pin on their computer, which then enables the ID Vault to open up any online account that has been set up within it. Password grabs are blocked because the user is entering his or her password into a software application, rather than into a browser.
BiggerBoat provides digital media search - products, web sites, events, downloads - with a focus on entertainment distribution and advertising. The company states that it has no competitors, but the offering compares reasonably to Loomia and GoFish from a user perspective. In CEO Adam Lilling's brief talk, it seemed that the business model differentiator seems to be BiggerBoat's interest in owning an entertainment ad network, rather than the inventory of content.