Rafe's picks from Demo 2008: Lots of doubles, no home runs

These were the most interesting developments at the Demo 2008 conference.

There was a good, but not earthshaking, lineup of products at this year's Demo 2008 conference (see all stories). The show didn't offer any new products to capture the hearts and minds of the general public or even a majority of the tech elite. There was no Pleo, no Moobella, no Palm Pilot--all products introduced at Demo in years past. But there were several very strong new ideas and products here. These are my top picks.

Blist. This is the Flash- and Flex-based database I raved about yesterday. It is the database that FileMaker should have become by now--and it's all online. It has rich features and a gorgeous front-end that's simple when you want it to be yet also supports complex table design. Read: Blist: Awesome Web-based database.

Blist is also part of another story at Demo: The rise of Flash applications. See also Spout, a killer Flash authoring environment, and Joggle, an AIR application that manages your photos, no matter where they are stored. The design and usability of these applications put many "traditional" software competitors to shame. And they're all cross-platform.

Delver, a search engine with a strong social twist. It returns search results from people in your social circle, and ranks them according to relevance and strength of connection to you. It's no replacement for Google, but if you want to ask all your friends for advice all at once--without bothering them--it's killer. Delver uses your implicit social network, which is much smarter than requiring users to specify in advance who their friends are. Read: Damn clever: Delver makes search social.

Ribbit makes a voice platform, aka Web telephony. It's a powerful technology that will allow developers to do cool things with voice services, without dealing with traditional telephone switches and cantankerous phone companies. There's a Salesforce application already. At Demo, the company showed off its own homegrown consumer application, Amphibian, a useful application that melds your mobile phone with your Web presence. Amphibian does new stuff like pull up the social network profile pages of people when they call you. Creepy. But cool. Read: Ribbit hops into Web telephony. See also, Toktumi, a business VoIP product I like a lot.

Jodange Top of Mind is a tool by quants, for traders. It looks at the published opinions and prognostications of market analysts and correlates them with stock moves. From that data it tells you which writers are the ones that either predict or influence the public markets. Why I like it: Because it's a real business. Access to this service costs $10,000 to $15,000 a month for a small workgroup, and people in the financial business will pay it if the data bears out. The company will also release simplified widget versions of its data that consumers can put on their Web start pages.

If you're interested in predicting your own financial outcome, also see Voyant At Home (Read: Voyant tells you when you can't retire.)

Green Plug. This is an initiative to build the universal DC power supply. Key components: Devices tell the supply what voltage they need, and the supply shuts off power to a device when it indicates it's fully charged. It's greener that traditional power supplies and could be a lot more convenient for consumers as well. It's a small step toward a revolution in power delivery for electronic devices, and the revolution is long overdue. Read: Demo goes green.

 

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