showed of its much-ballyhooed instant ice-cream making machine. A custom scoop of a custom flavor was made well within the 6-minute demonstration time.
Don't bother putting this on your list of potential wedding gifts, though. It's not for the kitchen, but rather works as a vending machine in retail. Moobella's pitch is that it allows any company to become an ice cream company. You don't need food factories and a transportation network to ship ice cream (which is usually 3 to 6 months old by the time a customer gets it) to all your stores. Just set up the machine. As an example, the presenter said "Moobella could make Starbucks the biggest ice cream vendor overnight."
won my heart immediately. It's an application that lets you create a book by drag-and-drop tools, with no special knowledge of page layout required. And Blurb automates the process to a large extent. For example, it has a tool called a "slurper" that sucks up all the content in a blog and formats it into a book. Many other features are automated, as well. For example, it puts in a copyright page and table of contents.
It also allows for collaborative publishing. For example, the CEO Eileen Gitins showed how a bunch of people in Napa County each typed in recipes for a cookbook. Blurb allows for online collaboration, so you don't need to have the entire book on your computer. You just type in our part and submit it into the project.
The app runs on PCs and Macs, and Blurb claims it allows you to make a full book in an hour. These are nice-looking books, too - hard cover with dust jacket. Once you've produced a book, you or others can order online individual or multiple copies from Blurb, which does the printing.
If this works as well as it appears to, it might really eliminate the need for first-time authors to struggle desperately to get into the Byzantine, old-boy publishing network.
The application will be available in March.
Bones in Motion
impressed me a lot more than I had thought it would. The application runs on most mobile phone and uses their GPS data to record and guide you through a jog, hike, or bike ride. For example, it will tell you how far you've gone, calculate your pace, and even calculate the difficulty of the run you did - based on items like elevation, grade, and weather. It uses Google maps to create a plot of the run or ride you just did, and you can upload the information to a Web site where you can store it and share with others. For example - you can recommend a route to someone and show him or her the map.
Sprint is now offering the app/service for $9.99 per month.
also impressed me or than I had expected. A PC for your car? Big deal, I thought. I imagined some Mac mini shoved into the dashboard. Well, the hardware is perfectly fine - a compact little box with every possible input and output, plus a radio tuner and an amp. It basically fits in where your old radio would go.
But the interface is the real innovation. It has a very neat, easy-to-read touchscreen that pulls in all your gear and functions - for example, via Bluetooth it automatically pulls up your phone address book, and it gives you control over the radio, satellite radio, GPS, etc. Because the PC has pretty powerful hardware, it can display 3D GPS maps - which make it more like being inside a video game. And you can update the GPS or other data. For example, maps can account for road construction.
Best of all is the gesture-based interface. Use your finger to scribble an "M" on the touch screen, for example, and the MP3 music collection comes up. Make a forward sliding motion, and you jump to the next song; use a backward motion, and you jump back a song. You don't have to use the gestures, but once you learn them, it should be a lot safer than looking down at an intricate screen while you're driving.
showed off its mini-LCD projector called Digismart. The prototype measures 1.5 inches long and .5 inches square (And should be 20% smaller in final form). They are hoping it can be incorporated into items like cell phones, PDAs, and laptops to create 11x17-inch projections.
The demonstration didn't look too impressive. The image appeared pretty faint and dull-looking. But it's a hard thing to show in a giant conference hall. I'll have to see it up close to know if it's any good.
They hope to release it in late 2006, if they get funding..
showed off an organizing application that is supposed to make our lives easier. But it looked pretty complicated to me. A very nice feature is that it can pull in data from all kinds of places - for example - Outlook calendar info. And you can drag and drop all kinds of media into it, such as emails or Web pages. The media acquisition looked pretty slick, but I'm not sure we need yet another piece or personal organizing software. (Note, we'll be seeing more media-acquisition software and service here - that suck in Web pages, photos, videos, music, etc into custom collections that you build
- has an awesome application called Freepath that puts PowerPoint on steroids. For example, it allows you to make PPT presentations with all kinds of media that PPT doesn't natively play, like video, music, and PDF files. The interface is pretty hip, too. Instead of calling it a presentation, they call the slideshows you create "playlists." And like songs with a music playlist, you build these presentations by just dragging and dropping files into the app to build the shows. You could even use the app as a super-basic WYSIWYG video editor. Pretty cool.
impressed me greatly with the apparent simplicity of its camera-phone photo-sharing service. You either install the "Radar" app on your phone (if you have an open network like Cingular or T-Mobile) or you run a Web client (if you have Sprint or Verizon). After taking a photo, you just click a "Post" button to send it into a photos channel on their servers.
Other people can view your channel (if you give them permission), and you can view multiple channels from friends or family at the same time. (You can also comment on photos in an IM-style fashion.) The idea is that you will use cell phone pictures to share all kinds of details about your life, like what you had for diner last night. This won't interest most people, which is why the photos aren’t available to everyone, but it could interest friends, family, or colleagues whom you do authorize to view your channel. Basically much steam-of-consciousness with little photos.
could be something fantastic. The guy who invented the Furbee is back with amazing life-like (and less annoying) animatronic toys. The first model, Pleo, debuted on stage. A poodle-sized green dinosaur with a long neck and big eyes, Pleo is covered in touch, light, and sound sensors (under his skin) that lets him find his way around and respond to action.
Like a baby, Pleo learns as he goes. So, when his inventor, Caleb, picked him up, he said of Pleo " it's the first time he's been picked up, so he's scared. The next time he'll be used to it."
Especially cute was when he first came to life and kept wiggling around. "In a technical sense, he's calibrating his servos," said Caleb. "But we like to call it stretching."
Pleo really is like a baby; he's even fickle. If you don't play with him, he sulks and looks depressed. I'm not sure I want all that responsibility J
Makes it super easy to share files, at least in theory. It actually converts any PC into a little Web server. You designate a file or folder to share, and it creates a unique URL for the item. When people enter the URL, Zingee's servers direct the request to your PC. (Nothing resides on Zingee's own servers. So they save a ton on storage and bandwidth.)
Note: Turning people's PCs into Web servers could create a field day for hackers. SO WE should watch very carefully to see what kinds of security measures are incorporated into the final product.
If you want to "send" a file to someone, you just drag and drop it onto a buddy list, and it emails or IMs the URL to them. Or you can put the URLs into a blog or regular Web page.
If Zingee catches on, this would radically increase the number of objects available on the Web, and that show up in Web searches.
And this is just the beginning for Zingee. At dinner last night, the co-founder, DK, told me his ultimate goal is to create a network of associations for sharing information. For example, if someone moves and I don't have her new address, I can get it from a trusted network of other people, like mutual friends, who do have the latest info. The Zingee system of making every PC a searchable Web server is what would enable this information network.
Still a long way off, but Zingee is already applying for and having good luck in getting extremely broad patent rights in the US, Europe, and Asia for such an information networking model. Watch them. Even if the service doesn't take off, they could make a fortune on patent royalties!
Is cute. Despite the name, it is NOT a program for crating music. (That belongs to Apple.) Instead, the company has an application called Gpal that plugs into iTunes and allows you to discover music. For example, if you pick an artist from your iTunes collection, it can generates an automatic playlist of other artist that have a similar style - both those you have in your collection and others that you don't. That’s a nice way to get suggestions for other music you might want to buy. Garage Band is also tying to be a launching pad for new acts. SO, for example, when you crate that playlist, you can also subscribe to a service the will send you weekly podcasts of music from new artists in the Garage Band system that have similar music.
Another cool thing, the program will create a scrip that you can paste into your MySpace profile. The Script will periodically check in with Garage Band and create continually update lists of the kind of music you are into. Neat!