DEMO: Mixing The Fun and Useful

SAN DIEGO — The annual DEMO tech conference will feature consumer and business debuts including music and photo sharing services, a raft of mobile services, and even a new family tree genealogy service that includes a DNA kit. Plus, search engine technology will get a fresh look.

But there is a caveat for each of the 72 companies presenting these technology wares at the influential industry confab: They get six minutes on stage to demonstrate their new product or technology. No Powerpoint or Flash is allowed; show organizers feel the product should speak for itself. Or, as it says in the conference welcome page, presenters have six minutes to “innovate or die”

There is also a rule, adhered to by DEMO and the newer Techcrunch 50 conference also happening this week in San Francisco, that companies can only show a product or significant upgrade that hasn’t been shown publicly or released anywhere else prior to the event.

“There were a few instances where both DEMO and Techcrunch were competing for the same companies and I think we won some and they won some,” Chris Shipley, the main host and executive producer of DEMO, told

Having seen numerous product introductions over the years, she’s not ready to declare this latest batch revolutionary, game-changing or whatever bit of hyberbole the various PR and marketing teams may want to label them with. “We’re moving the chains with products that are going into some new territory and moving the industry ahead,” said Shipley.

And it’s not all demos. There’s an exhibit area and panel sessions too including one on Where the Web is Going: Web 2.0, 3.0 and Beyond. “We have some off the radar thinkers,” said Shipley of the panel that includes speakers from Microsoft, Yahoo and Google.

Close to a thousand tech industry execs, investors, analysts, public relations and media professionals are gathered at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina this week for the bi-annual DEMO conference.

The potpourri of new technology starts with a who’s who reception of industry starts and wannabes and others, followed by the official kick off of presentations by some 72 startups and more established players. DEMO ends Tuesday evening with a closing awards dinner.

Products, products, products. Demos, demos, demos

Generally there is no overarching theme to DEMO conferences, though there tends to be a lot more consumer-oriented companies on hand than business or enterprise-focused ones.

“The fact that you can use these venues, DEMO and Techcrunch, to launch a new product and get significant buzz is pretty powerful,” Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told “If you’re a company, especially a small one, it’s a great way to get press coverage.

Bajarin added that any consumer company worth its salt should be able to show why its basic value or fun factor in six minutes or less. “If you can’t, you’ve got a problem,” he said. “But business-oriented products can be more difficult to explain and take longer to get the benefit across.”

Here’s a quick snapshot of several interesting products debuting at DEMO.

You might not think the world needs another search engine, but hey, who thought we needed another browser till Google made its big splash with Chrome” last week?

Infovell will be showing its “research engine” for the “Deep Web” targeted at the vast amounts of information the company said popular search engines don’t reach. The initial focus is on information in life sciences, medicine and patents (including both public and subscriber-only content) with plans to add other reference categories over time. Infovell debuts as a premium service September 22 with a “risk free trial offer” available. A more limited free public beta version is planned for later this year.

Citing a University of California at Berkely study, Infovell said less than 0.2 percent of the Web has been indexed by traditional search engines. The company was founded by two scientists who worked on the Human Genome Project.

Rocketron’s eponymous service lets mobile users navigate access to news sources using voice commands on their mobile phone. The service offers “personalized, hands-free news from thousands of in-depth sources,” the company said, using voice commands only; no texting, video or downloads required.

A company called Coretrace flips the antivirus model around by focusing on a whitelist of “good” applications rather than a blacklist of malware or other dangerous apps. The company said that since its Bouncer service, designed for the enterprise, only allows approved applications to execute, it stops malware and other unknown threats and increases overall security.

“Instead of attempting to monitor all the evil in the world, Bouncer keeps track of only the applications that should be running on a machine,” said DEMO in a product analysis. “Others simply aren’t allowed to run. It’s a fresh approach in a sector that desperately needs such.”

Mac users who loves photos, might find Blue Lava Technologie’s free ILovePhotos service of interest. The desktop software utilizes facial detection and visual tagging designed to help users quickly organize and share their photos. It can be used as a standalone photo manager or to complement iPhoto.

Blue Lava said the software can help people create “intelligent personalized slideshows” based on how often people appear in photos, who they appear next to most frequently, and many other attributes.

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