During the opening of the Demo conference here on Monday, dozens of companies demonstrated their software and services in hopes of becoming the next big thing in technology. The products ranged from enterprise tools to consumer gadgets and offerings that bridge the divide.
A total of 73 companies will present at Demo this year, of which 32 represent early-stage companies that have yet to seek venture funding, said Chris Shipley, the conferences executive producer. The emerging technologies on display show how the tech industry has matured over Demos 15-year history, she said.
"The seeds of the technology planted over the last 15 years are coming to fruition," she said.
Mobility is one example of the trend. Newcomer Meru Networks Inc. wants to take Wi-Fi connectivity to a higher level for enterprises, allowing video, data and voice traffic to traverse a wireless network with high performance and quality of service.
The companys wireless networking technology is modeled on the capabilities of cellular networks to support all three types of traffic. The Meru Wireless LAN system, which uses 802.11 access points and controllers, is targeted to deployments with hundreds of access points, said Kamal Anand, vice president of marketing and sales at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company.
Beyond network access, a handful of companies demonstrated new approaches for working while being mobile.
VKB Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., showed off its Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard that projects an infrared keyboard on a flat service. The wireless input system detects a users finger movements and connects back to mobile devices through Bluetooth. The virtual keyboard supports such mobile operating systems as Palm OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian.
Targeting the health care industry, Satori Labs Inc. demonstrated handwriting recognition paired with typical medical forms and connected to a PDA. Called FusionForm, the system lets health care workers use pen and paper while automatically converting forms into digital data in an attempt to address the problem of getting data in medical information systems.
Remote monitoring took center stage with iControl Networks Inc., which wants to take the automation and control capabilities usually relegated to large businesses into the mainstream.
Its My iControl service combines motion sensors and cameras with the Internet so individuals can monitor their homes, small businesses or family members. A home gateway connects the monitoring devices to a home network and the Internet.
Whether it is coming from emerging sensor technology or existing feeds, real-time data is increasingly touching enterprises. For example, StreamBase Systems Inc. is attempting to process streaming data and allow users build applications to take advantage of it.
The companys Stream Processing Engine software can manage as many as 100,000 messages a second and provides a graphical interface for building applications, such as one presented before Demo attendees that bought and sold stock options as pricing thresholds were reached in real time.
"We do for streaming data what database guys do for stored data," said StreamBase Chief Technology Officer Mike Stonebraker, who founded database company Ingres Corp. in the 1980s.
An offshoot from development on NASAs Mars rover played a role in a 3-D modeling demonstration from MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. The robotics company unveiled the MDA Instant Scene Modeler, which using a stereo camera to collect digital images and then uses its software to process the images into 3D models.
For example, MDA showed how law enforcement could use the system to recreate crime scenes with 3-D models. The company has yet to commercialize the software.
Even the software used for corporate presentations got a makeover during the Demo opener. Serious Magic Inc. launched Ovation, software that remakes Microsoft PowerPoint demonstrations with animated, TV-like graphics and themes and provides teleprompter and timer features to presenters.
Ovation is scheduled to ship in the summer for $99, said Serious Magic CEO Mark Randall.
"It makes PowerPoint look dramatically better and helps you be a better presenter," Randall said.