Search, sharing, and social networking. Demofall 07, a two-day new product showcase being held in San Diego, had plenty of products in each category, many blurring the categories, most adding a new twist. Attendi, for example, searches for experts instead of web pages, and connects you to volunteers willing to chat with you about your particular problem. Your Truman Showâ''s V-Linker maps video viewing and can plug a map onto Facebook pages, connecting video search and social networking. SceneCaster lets users design a 3-D scene, with real products in it, to organize online shopping or, again, stick into a Facebook page. None of these evolutionary applications really blew me away.
But Iâ''ve yet walked away from a day at the Demo conference without some new product to love. Today Iâ''ve got two; PiP from Vyro Games out of Dublin, Ireland, and FixMyMovie from Motion DSP out of San Mateo, Calif.
Pip, for Personal input Pod, is a biofeedback gizmo intended to help people relax. Sure, Iâ''ve seen attempts at consumer biofeedback devices for years, but this one gets it all right, for once, I can actually envision myself using it. I liked it so much that it could even be a reason to get my high-stress tween daughter a cell phone. But Iâ''m getting ahead of myself.
PiP is a wireless cellphone peripheral. It uses a Bluetooth connection to control software installed on the phone. Held between the thumb and forefinger, it tracks the electrical conductivity of the skin to determine changes in the userâ''s stress level. The Vyro Games folks demonstrated a two-player dragon racing game (the more you relax, the faster the dragon moves, from a slow plod to speedy flight). Dragon racing made for a good short demo; but better for a real relaxation session is the storm application, in which the user tries to clear up a thunderstorm and replace it with sunny skies. The company announced but did not demonstrate a lie detector application.
I got a chance to play a quick round of dragon racing. It wasnâ''t easy to relax in the noisy demo hall, but I did briefly get my dragon airborne, and then got so excited with my success that it quickly landed. I lost my race.
Vyro expects to release PiP early next year; the company is hoping to attract business partners, like cell phone providers, to market the gizmo. Company representatives arenâ''t yet talking price.
Vyro Games onstage at Demofall
The demo by Motion DSP also rang the â''winnerâ'' bell for me. Motion DSP originally developed its â''FixMyMovieâ'' video enhancement technology for use in military intelligence (one of its backers is the CIAâ''s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel). FixMyMovie is aimed at a broader marketâ''consumers who take videos using cellphone cameras or digital still cameras, rather than higher resolution dedicated video cameras. FixMyMovie reduces noise, removes blocky artifacts caused by dropped data, and adjusts color and lighting, turning horrible quality videos into acceptable onesâ''not great, true, but certainly better and, for most applications, good enough.
The company envisions wireless carriers and videosharing sites offering FixMyMovie to their customers, but until then, anyone can use it at the companyâ''s website for free. (When I looked at the site, the company had prices listed for different services, like downloading a cleaned up version of a video or making high-quality still pictures from a video, but company representatives told me these are fictitious prices, and the whole thing runs for free, at least for now.)