Build-your-own iPhone and Android apps, cloud services, photo tools and more
About 50 startups will unveil hot new products at the DEMO Spring 2011 conference this week. Mobile applications for iPhone and Android, cloud-based services for businesses and consumers, security for Facebook, a dating site for gays and lesbians and even a headset that reads your mind will be on display. Each vendor will get just six minutes to impress the crowd. Here's an early look at 20 of the hottest companies you'll see at the show.
1. Next Island virtual world
A virtual world "with a real cash economy and time travel," Next Island players "can explore, go on adventures, hunt, craft, socialise with friends, have professions that can yield them real cash and time travel to Ancient Greece." Next Island is free to play, but users can purchase upgrades and virtual goods, allowing them to sell harvests or in-game creations.
Platform-as-a-service cloud offering simplifies the creation and deployment of web applications, and allows web apps to be "embedded and spread to other websites, blogs and social networks."
3. Small Business iPhone and Android Apps
Small businesses may benefit from building iPhone and Android apps, but often lack the resources to create them on their own. That's why Bizness Apps aims to make creating apps for these smartphone platforms simple and affordable. "Create, edit and manage iPhone and Android apps online without any programming knowledge."
4. Defensio for Facebook
Security software for Facebook protects users from viruses, profanity and spam by rejecting inappropriate URLs, filtering out comments, detecting and stopping harmful scripts and malicious code and automatically managing comments with predefined filters.
No search engine is likely to overtake Google, but HeyStaks hopes it can make a dent in the Google monopoly by bringing social networking to search. "HeyStaks is web search, shared," the company says. "HeyStaks is a new social search service that allows you to collaborate anonymously with friends and people of like minded interest as you search, to get better, more relevant results recommended by people you trust around topics that matter to you, and HeyStaks works with your favourite search engine so you continue searching as normal."
Recycling cans and bottles is easy, but consumers often don't know where to turn to recycle used electronics. The ecoATM lets you insert a portable consumer electronics device or handset, and with a combination of machine vision, diagnostics and artificial intelligence the machine values the device and provides users with a trade-up coupon, gift card, store credit or cash.
Bringing social networking tools to businesses, this enterprise grade "business information networking platform" helps colleagues collaborate "and explore relevant content such as news stories, press releases, videos, slide presentations, financial and analyst reports, blog feeds, social media conversations, case studies and brochures".
This online, do it yourself market research platform goes far beyond existing survey tools with a "recruitment engine" that lets businesses "filter through a database of over 3.5 million potential participants (by age, income, geography, etc.), and select target respondents for their panel. From there, companies can submit questions and any related media (photos, videos, etc.) to each participant with a single click, then save the feedback in a chatlog after the session is complete."
Cloud-based service gives subscribers the ability to share, access and create content across a variety of devices including iPhone, Androids, BlackBerry, PCs, the Nintendo Wii and PS3.
Bringing mobile app development tools to a wider population, MobileNation provides an intuitive drag and drop interface for designing apps that can be used on both smartphones and tablets. Use cases include businesses that need to reach customers in new ways, or even just regular Joes who want to share mobile apps with friends though Facebook and Twitter.
11. MindWave BrainCubed Education Bundle
"The human brain is the fattest organ in the body" and needs exercise, says NeuroSky, which built a headset that measures brainwave impulses, letting users play games on a PC or Mac with a wireless USB connection. New educational games include neuroscience apps to test mental fitness and intelligence. One math game "monitors student attention level when learning early-grade arithmetic lessons," and a movie viewing tool "uses the mental state of the viewer to determine plot changes in the movie".
You might call OneGoodLove an eHarmony for the gay and lesbian community. Designed to serve "relationship-minded gay and lesbian" users, OneGoodLove uses a proprietary personality profile test and matching algorithm to match up couples with the best potential for a long term relationship.
Photo-sharing service works on Windows, Macs and iPhones, letting users share photos to Facebook, Twitter and other sites with a single click. "Launch PhotoRocket nearly anywhere you have a photo to share... PhotoRocket eliminates emailing, resizing, attaching and other hurdles, letting you share more photos more often."
14. Pixable Photofeed (on iPad)
Free app for browsing Facebook photos on an iPad provides personalized streams of photos, and displays them in full size format. "Pixable's WonderRank technology analyses dozens of variables associated with a Facebook account to intelligently rank and discover photos," and provides notifications of friends' photo activity.
Cloud-based service provides a single location to manage household information and one's "memories". "This first comprehensive online family management tool is fast, fun and easy to use, leveraging users' time with APIs, wizards, and auto-magically created newsletters, scrapbooks, paper cards that mail themselves, other shareables and an organisational GPS. AboutOne provides ready access to information necessary for informed decisions and emergency preparedness."
If you use the web a lot (as all of us do), you could have a dozen online accounts with different usernames and passwords. Primadesk unites all these services with a single sign-on and simple way to share and move content, including photos, documents and emails, from one service to another. "Primadesk makes online life easier to manage, enabling users to search, manage and backup personal data from anywhere, whether it is from a personal computer, tablet or smartphone."
A "real time search and curation service for Facebook and Twitter," TrendSpottr makes it easier to discover top trending content. "Using advanced algorithms and curation tools developed specifically for the real time web, TrendSpottr filters, aggregates and publishes the top trending headlines, videos, images, phrases, hashtags and places for any search term or topic of interest."
Improving upon existing commenting and forum systems, Viafoura aims to give users better ways to engage with their favourite websites and help publishers make money off the conversations happening between content creators and readers. "Viafoura at its core is built around obtaining user contributions through text, audio, video and split screen video debate and combining these contributions to a gaming reward system."
Cloud-based customer engagement platform connects salespeople to new customers on corporate websites, search engines and mobile devices. Starting at $25 a month, Workface "comes packed with powerful tools to track performance metrics and monitor return on investment, and maintain complete administrative oversight."
KloudDock expands the capabilities of Apple laptops with a desktop docking station or portable attachment providing a "secure locking configuration, kickstand, 3G/4G data modem, GPS, external battery, HDMI/VGA port, Ethernet port, USB hub" and more.