At Demo 2012: Battery-powered skateboards and other hardware innovations
The Demo conference is mostly a show highlighting mobile, cloud, and software startups. But a few hardware guys generally show up. At the Spring 2012 Demo conference, of the more than 70 presenters, 18 alone were tagged as "cloud" vendors. Here are the few who were making real stuff (and in one case, destroying it).
The ZBoard is a battery-powered skateboard. It uses weight sensors front and back to control acceleration and regenerative braking. You steer the old-fashioned way, by leaning.
ZBoard co-founder Geoff Larson scoots away from the interview. Before he left, he said he saw the ZBoard being used for non-fun applications, like commuting or running errands. The boards will start at $499. There's even a special San Francisco model with a high-torque motor for climbing hills.
The founders of Vergence Labs, a very early-stage company, give a quick pitch on their tech-equipped eyewear. This model has a camera for recording what you see and do. The team is also working on an augmented reality product.
The ArqBall Spin app (review) creates 3D images from items placed on this motorized turntable. The app is free, but the turntable is $60. The company, hopefully, will also be able to make service revenues from users on eBay, Etsy, etc.
BodyMedia is launching the Patch, a gizmo you stick on your skin for seven days at a time. It records body temperature, galvanic skin response, and motion. At the end of seven days, you upload data to your account via USB, and throw it out. It's $20.
The Penvue electronic mouse and pen plugs into a computer and lets you write on images projected or displayed on a large monitor. Operators can also control the display or call up backgrounds like grids to make clear notes. It's $499.
Filmmaker Justin Evans wasn't happy with the projectors available to him at prices he could afford, so he started BryteWerks and built the Model One, a $2,999 projector (the black box in the picture) that has specs impressive enough for his work: An 11,000-lumen projector, 1920x1200 resolution, a built-in computer with its own storage and Blu-Ray drive, and 7.1 channel audio out. He's sold some to Cirque du Soleil and would like you to put one in your media room.
Ryan Whiteman has started a company, Whiteman Technology, to build a media device that displays and records six channels of cable TV, streams video from the popular services, and plays content from your local network. He's hoping to sell it for under $1,000. Good luck, we say, but you're going to have an interesting time competing with the $49 Roku, even if it does a lot less.