Rounding Out Day One of DEMO 08

View OutsideThis is the view outside the Marriott Desert Palm, where the conference is taking place. Jealous? Me too. I shot this picture during the lunch break yesterday, but otherwise, I’m stuck inside a windowless auditorium with several hundred people. So why am I–and everyone else here–sacrificing the fresh air and scenic vistas for a darkened, climate-controlled room? In short, because some of the products being shown here are truly innovative. They’re not just cool for cool’s sake, but they tackle problems in innovative ways. Of the 39 presenters during the first day, several stood out–the kind of companies and products that people talked about over lunch and drinks–as particularly innovative. Here are three of them, selected at random. ribbit_logo_white_450.gifRibbit was one such company. Billing themselves as “Silicon Valley’s first phone company,” their Web-based application enables users to, essentially, use their cell phones on their computers. But it goes beyond being able to make and take calls. In the words of one of their reps, Ribbit’s technology treats voice calls like any other media: you can embed your “phone” into social media and networking sites and have voicemail converted to text automatically (via a partnership with Simulscribe), and be able to save, replay, and search it. The company also has an open API, and says that more than 2,500 developers have signed up to create widgets and add-ons to the service. Ribbit’s back-end servers are compatible with all the major carriers, and can also integrate with Skype, allowing a user to forward calls from a mobile phone to a Skype account. Ribbit somewhat immodestly calls this new category “Voiceware,” but there’s some truth to it. One part of the app is both highly innovative and somewhat creepy. Termed “Caller ID 2.0,” when the program identifies who’s calling you, it will search social networking sites for information about the caller–everything from blog posts to YouTube videos–and display it on your screen. cellspin logoWhile there’s a number of ways of getting multimedia onto a mobile device, a company called CellSpin has developed a new method of getting photos and videos off of it and onto social media sites as seamlessly as possible. After setting up an account on its web site, CellSpin sends its app to the device, which allows the user to send audio, video, text, or photos directly to a blog or social networking site. Currently, the CellSpin app works with Facebook, Blogger, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, Live Journal, Live Spaces and eBay, and from what I could tell, works quickly. In demonstrations at their booth, reps from CellSpin took a photo with their phones, and in two to three clicks–and in what seemed like two to three seconds–had it posted online, without ever having to open a browser. Right now, the program is only compatible with Windows Mobile 5 and 6 and BlackBerrys, but the company hinted that more platforms, and more social media sites, would be supported in the next few weeks. Just imagine what an app like this would do for a site like Twitter. blistlogolg.gifAnother company seeking to open up a staid technology segment is blist. Normally, the words “database management” are either accompanied by yawns or looks of befuddlement. Or both. Blist’s Web app takes a much more graphical and intuitive approach towards creating and maintaining large databases, so much so that it’s no longer limited to IT managers and those with Oracle training. Instead of a spreadsheet with lots of text and numbers, blist allows users to create categories that include images, documents, even star ratings, and then parse and search the records easily. While they’re still finalizing the product (one screen during their presentation hinted that users would eventually be able to import Excel spreadsheets), it does seem like an interesting solution to managing large amounts of data.

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