At this year's Demo Spring conference, which closed Tuesday, many of the new services that were launched attempt to solve nagging problems.
Solutions for signing and faxing back documents without owning a fax machine, finding lost gadgets, or trying to type on a mobile phone's on-screen keyboard, were all targeted by companies as easy fixes. That is, if people are willing to buy into what are often proprietary systems.
In the photos that follow, you'll see companies old and new showing off their latest products, as well as a few memorable moments.
Zosh.com CEO Joshua Kerr takes a baseball bat to a fax machine in an homage to late-'90s film "Office Space."
Kerr wasn't destroying it just for fun though. His company is actually trying to kill off the need for physical fax machines, by putting the act of receiving, sending, and signing documents on people's mobile phones.
Hillcrest Labs' CEO Daniel Simpkins demoed a new version of its couch-friendly browser called "Kylo." It's a browser that's been designed to be used from the couch, including big, easy to press buttons.
It works with both PCs and Macs, and can be paired with the company's Loop pointer hardware, which the company is hoping to sell more of once people install it.
Nyoombl's CEO Oladaya Olagunju demos his company's video conferencing gadget, which can be added to any TV. It straps onto the top of your TV to do one-on-one live video, without any special software. Instead, it goes through your TV's coaxial connection, and adds an interface to accept or reject incoming video chat requests.
Viaclix makes hardware and software for surfing the Web on your TV. Users need a special box and remote to make use of it, in return for being able to surf Web sites like flipping channels. This includes video sites like Hulu and YouTube.
Along with Internet video sites, Viaclix boxes can do things like live video chat (with a connected Webcam) and run third party apps.
Osama Bedier, vice president of PayPal's platform and emerging technologies bumps phones with Punsri Abeywickrema from Rentalic, one of the winners of the PayPal developer
challenge, in order to transfer them the $50,000 prize money. Bedier said that the actual transfer would take place a little later, and joked that in the past they would have used an oversize check instead.
Medl Tech has cooked up a truly niche product: an external screen for laptop users. This could act as a secondary display when users are out on the road, all without taking up as much space as a traditional external display.
The 13-inch display sports the same resolution as an Apple MacBook, and can last around 4-5 hours on an internal, rechargeable lithium battery. The company plans to ship out later this year for around $300.
General Inspection's Greg Nygaard demonstrates the "Li'l Magic" part-identification system, which is designed to help places like hardware stores more easily do inventory and point-of-sale identification.
All users have to do is drop hardware parts like screws, bolts, nails, etc., into the top, and it uses a precision system to figure out what it is based on things like size, weight, and shape. These are then cross-checked with a store's inventory system to keep track of large numbers of small parts without too much effort.
Want to grab attention for your demo? Come out in handcuffs.
That's what Genio.com's CEO and co-founder Sol Tzvi did. Believe it or not, there was a point to it all. Tzvi was trying to demonstrate how typical content aggregators were limiting--just like hand cuffs.
Contact-slurping service Gwabbit demonstrated its new "gwab-o-sphere" product, which can sync up contact information changes from around the Web.
Gwabbit president Todd Miller donned a replica Dharma Initiative jump suit from the popular TV series "Lost" to show how the new tech could grab the right contact information no matter what time the e-mail had come from.
Phone Halo is a $60 gadget that turns your
BlackBerry or Android phone into a handheld finder. Unlike some more traditional key finder hardware, however, Phone Halo integrates Bluetooth and GPS to create a tethered radius for your gadgets. So, if
one of them goes out the door without the other, you get a message about it back on your phone, or through e-mail and even Twitter.