categories at next week's Crunchies awards show, which ReadWriteWeb is co-hosting, is Best technology innovation / achievement. The 5 finalists in that category are: Earthmine, Like, Move Networks, Twine, Viewdle. Here's a look at what each of these startups does and what makes them "innovative".One of the
Among the 5 finalists, there is 1 Semantic App, 2 Visual Search Engines, a 3D mapping service, and an Internet video streaming product. Tell us who you think should be the winner in the comments.
Twine is a new Wikipedia-like knowledge management app from Radar Networks. It's currently in a private beta (RWW authors are expecting their invites next week). In our review of a Twine demo from October last year, we noted that it has aspects of social networking, wikis, blogging, knowledge management systems - but its defining feature is that it's built with Semantic Web technologies. Founder Nova Spivack told us that Twine aims to bring a usable and scalable interface to the long-promised dream of the Semantic Web.
Alex Iskold made mention of Twine in his post Semantic Web: What Is The Killer App? this week. He noted that "personal knowledge management is an important problem". However he warned that even though knowing the semantics of knowledge is an important differentiator for Twine, it will need to prove itself: "at the very least Twine has to beat del.icio.us bookmarks and ideally needs to do for personal knowledge management what Highrise is doing for CRM."
Like is a visual shopping search engine that was named on AltSearchEngine's Top 100 Alternative Search Engines of the Year. Like is an offshoot of Riya, the visual search engine. As we noted at the end of 2006, Riya was the first to introduce advanced face recognition technologies in image search and Like is an attempt to commercialize that. Like is similar to Pixsta, which we profiled last year.
According to their About page, Like.com utilizes their "Likeness Technology" to create a digital signature that describes the content of a photo, which they say "enables a more accurate search for similar looking items and products." Currently the following products are featured on the site: clothing, handbags, jewelry, shoes, and watches. Users can purchase items they find via Like, through merchants such as Nordstrom and Amazon.
Viewdle is another visual search engine, but in this case for video. It presented at the Techcrunch40 event in September last year, at which time Emre Sokullu wrote that Viewdle uses a facial recognition algorithm to search for people within videos. The main problem, noted Emre, is that people need to be in their database to be covered, and so far they only index celebrities. Viewdle has deals with Reuters and others. One question at the TC40 event was how Viewdle plans to scale when their database enlarges to many people - the company's answer was "contextual analysis," which will allow them to recognize faces in their environment.
Earthmine launched at DEMOfall 07. In our coverage, Josh Catone explained that Earthmine is creating a competitor to Google's Street View maps. Rather than using video, Earthmine will use "laser range-finding and still photography", which will result in perspective-correct photos that are more detailed and complete. Earthmine claims they can capture entire towns in just weeks using their camera set up, and they plan to extrapolate 3D data from the photos. It also looks like they plan to tag real-world objects within 3D panoramas to give their "geospatial inventories" context.
Marshall Kirkpatrick commented at the time that it's "nothing but 'wow' - not truly useful."
Move Networks is a publishing system that includes end-to-end services for encoding, streaming, editing, and monetizing your video broadcast. As last100 noted recently, 3 major US TV networks use Move Networks to power their Internet streaming services: ABC, FOX, and The CW. As last100 editor Steve O'Hear commented: "[The Move Networks player] is not based on Flash, its a proprietary format that uses a QVT file to send little packets across the web, to provide a non-buffering experience for end users that scales based on their connection speed."
Which of the above 5 do you think is most worthy of the title 'Best Technology Innovation / Achievement'? Voting has now closed, but at the end of next week we'll find out which startup won.