In search of the next big thing at DEMO

In search of the next big thing at DEMO

Scottsdale, Ariz. — Technology industry insiders flocked to the DEMO conference last week in Scottsdale. Many of the most innovative technologies that have been introduced over the past 15 years have been introduced at this confab, which celebrated its 15th anniversary.
Over 700 attendees were joined by more than 250 million readers, listeners and viewers worldwide.
“The products that are introduced are a lens through which we can look at the state of the industry,” said Chris Shipley, the conference’s executive producer, who said she screened 450 companies, narrowed them down to 150 finalists, and then selected 74 companies that presented to investors, potential partners and an international press delegation.
Technologies introduced at DEMO include the first integrated multimedia PC 15 years ago. DEMO served as the launching pad for companies and products such as Palm, Microsoft, E-Trade, Hewlett Packard,, Handspring, Tivo and US Robotics.
Only four of the demonstrating companies at this year’s conference were publicly traded: AutoXray, Motorola, Openwave Systems, and Symbol Technologies Friends. Family and angel financing help to sustain 32 of the companies.
“These startup companies bring products to market on sheer sweat and determination,” Shipley said. “Over the last 3 to 4 years more and more companies that have previewed at DEMO have little to no venture backing as compared to previous years, when most were at least at the first-stage venture round. Most of today’s demonstrating companies have less than $1 million in funding.”
“Consumer and IT buyers are coming back to the market,” she added. “The DEMO conference will illustrate that that tech industry’s ten-year-old promise of convergence is finally beginning to be realized.”
Here are just a few of the products that launched this year:
IControl Networks introduced the IControl Dashboard, a Web-based system that monitors doors, windows, temperature and security. The IControl sensors can be monitored on PDAs, PCs or cell phones and can adjust temperature settings from a smart phone.
Motorola introduced a new service called iRadio, which will allow cell phone users to play commercial-free music on their phones, car and home stereos by use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. At a cost of around $7 per month and with MP3 file storage and playback, this could be a potential threat to podcasters, who beam music to iPods, and satellite radio providers. “Your music follows you wherever you go… your car, phone and home. This will fundamentally change how we listen to music,” said David Ulmer, director of marketing for Motorola’s Media Solutions group based in Tempe, Arizona.
VKB Inc. demonstrated a Bluetooth virtual keyboard that uses infrared lights and sensors to make it easier enter data on handheld devices. A red virtual keyboard is projected on a desk or other surface. They announced that Radio Shack will carry in it stores across the U.S. and it will also be available direct from the company.

First blogs, now vlogs and improved presentations

Serious Magic introduced two products. One is a tool for video logging or “vlogging,” named Vlog It, is video blogging software that allows you to combine different media including video, music, still pictures, voice and text. The other product is Ovation, developed to improve PowerPoint presentations.
Vlog It is based on the company’s existing Visual Communicator product, which simulates TV-studio-like presentations. The company is jumping on the blogging phenomenon. The product will sell for $99 and allows you to create your own newscasts or sitcoms, or to express your life or reaction to stories in video.
Ovation is a companion product for PowerPoint that automatically imports and transforms your presentation into more professional looking presentations in just a few moments. The company showed a usual flat, two-dimensional presentation with simple bullet points that they “re-imagined” into broadcast-quality presentation with animation and moving images. The tool also contains a time clock, and built-in teleprompter that allows the speaker to stay on time and script. This product is also going to be available in the summer of 2005 for $99.

Nanotech Displays

NTERA introduced their NanoChromics displays, one of a growing number of products intended to resemble ink on paper and serve as a replacement for standard LCD screens. With their technology we could see brighter and less power-consuming displays in a range of products such as thermostats, music players or airplane cockpit displays. The company is a spinoff using nanotechnology developed at University College Dublin and has already secured over $30 million in venture investments.

Mike Klein is WTN’s editorial director and can be reached at