Palm Desert, CA--Demo08 kicked off today here with nearly 80 companies vying for the attention of technologies best and brightest minds. Although the show just opened the morning buzz is centered on which of the companies showing their products had the best on-stage and Pavilion demonstrations.
Looking at my notes, scribbled frantically yesterday and this morning as I met with entrepreneurs, a couple of interesting trends pop to the surface: First, there are several technologists lanching products for the third and fourth time at Demo08. The second thing that came to mind as I made my way back to my room tonight is that the companies launching their products this week have been working on them for a long time. Several of the new product have been under development for more than a year, and in two cases, the products and their underlying technologies are the result of almost two years of work.
This is much different than in years past when technologists sometimes showed products that were sometimes little more than technology demonstrations. And yet, a surprising number of such products went on to redefine various aspects and categories of corporate and personal computing. The sheer number of DEMO 08 products that have been under development for the last year speaks very loudly about the changing nature of today's computing environment and how PCs are used.
iVideosongs is one such product. Aimed at serious musicians who want to play like professionals, iVideosongs provides music charts and multi-camera video views as well as interviews detailing how musicians created their sounds. Although it's long been possible to buy and down load sheet music on the web, ivideosongs.com is the first service that goes the extra mile and shows serious amateurs how proessionals developed and executed their music. thew unique value of this service to serious musicians can be seen in a download featuring Crosby, Stills and Nash band member Graham Nash, demonstrating how he taught the unique drop G, thumb-over chord marking band mate's Steven Stills guitar sound on the song, "Teach Your Children Well."
iVideotunes founder, Atlanta musician and a one time Grammy nominated-artistr, Timothy Huffman notes that his company spent more than a year negotiating the rights to the music and performances for the songs offered on the new serice. IVideosongss has had one round of private equity funding and is now online here. The new service should be a hit among the millions of Americans who own Les Paul, up-market Fenders, or other professional quality guitars or other musical instruments. I'm waiting for the day when Greg Allman signs on with iViedotunes so that piitful whiteguys such as myself can feel more at ease playing a 700-pound hammond B3 with twirling Leslie speakers.
The other product that rocked my boat at Demo 2008, it was Live Scribe's Pulse digital pen. Over the last 15 years I've watched at least four other companies fail at this technology. Live Scribe's Pulse pen (which will cost $149 for a 1GB version when it begins shipping in March, or $199 for a 2GB version) uses small infrared cameras mounted in the tip of the pen to record a users pen strokes. A miniature microphone built into the top of the pen as well as on the ends of a pair of earbuds can be used to record audio in notetaking environments such as classroomse Pulse also suports simple commands for navigatiug through documents and audio files. Audio can be inserted into wirtten notes when they are loaded into documents. A small screen in the upper part of the pen displays text as it's captured by the user. One of bonuses of Pulse's technology is that the pen can be used to teach foreigners the basics of writing Asian character-based laguages on a stroke-by-stroke basis.
LiveScribe's Pulse digital pen is much different than any of the many devices I've seen in this category. Pulse is untethered, and incorporates all of the technologies that are important to anyone who depends on written notes for their livelihood or grades. Also, it's much less expnsive than previous offerings in this category and appears to be much more reliable. Moreover, Live Scribe is also launching a development platform that will allow Pulse users to gain access to third-party productivity and entertainment applications.
At DEMO 08,Live Scribe showed applications from WinScribe, Living Paper and Stiletto Ventures.
Like other digital pens, Pulse uses dot positioning technology to record writing or drawing. However Live Scribe's management decided early on that the company did not want to rely on hard to find paper supplies, so it offers a downloadable template on its web site that allows users to print thier own supplies on common Laser printers complete with Live Scribe's embedded commands at the bottom of each page.
LiveScribe offered Demo08 atendees a $50 coupon that can be applied will allow attendees to purchase a 2GB Pulse smart pen for the same price as the 1GB model. For more information on LiveScribe click here
LiveScribe is a Demo08 company I want to watch closely. To succeed, it needs to evangelize in academia, private industry and in some public sectors, notably law enforcement, public health,and building trades. The LiveScribe platform offers plenty of free storage, the ability to turn hand written notes into .PDF and other files. More importantly, i believe it's a technology that's at the right place at the right time.
I'm spending the rest of the day looking at more companies, paryticularly those that offer radical improvements in integrating and kaing better use of rich media typrs. From Demo08--Jim Forbes 01/29/2008.