While the majority of companies launching at DEMO are entirely Web-based, there are some exceptions. This morning, we saw a handful companies hit the stage with gadgets in-hand (or in tow) that offer interesting perspectives on the future.
What does the future look like? If DEMO is any indication, it's filled with mind-reading headbands, and augmented reality dressing rooms, and kiosks that eat your old devices and spit out cash in return.
Every year, more than 500 million devices reach consumers hands. The average smartphone lasts barely more than a year, with the average consumer swapping out at the 13 month mark. Where do these devices end up? In the landfill.
What's the solution? An automated recycling station at your local grocery store that takes your old devices and give you cash or store credit in return, automatically. It's call the ecoATM and it's currently All you need to do is put your old device, be it a smartphone, MP3 player, game DVD, GPS unit or other device into the unit and it scans it and determines what it is. It then determines the object's condition and figures out a price. Then, right there on the spot, the machine offers you store credit or cold, hard cash.
That's how we like our eco-activism - meted out in crisp 10s and 20s.
MindWave from NeuroSky
In a world of multitasking and distraction, it can be hard to concentrate. NeuroSky makes a game of it. Their device, which you wear on your forehead, monitors electrical EEG brainwave impulses and feeds the data through an algorithm to determine your state of mind. It then uses this measurement to advance the game. For example, on app requires a certain level of concentration to push an apple across the screen. Another poses quick mathematical questions and then graphs your ability to quickly and accurately respond.
Children's games, however, seem to be just that. The company has a much larger play on its hands, with biosensors providing early diagnoses, "seizures avoided, machines operated, movies edited, games controlled, REM prolonged, bullseyes scored, and lessons learned using only the power of biosensors."
Swivel & The Webcam Social Shopper
With the 2010 release of the Microsoft Kinect, the world is quickly getting used to the idea using your entire body as a controller. The device sold like hotcakes and now people are playing video games and controlling their Netflix accounts with the swing of an arm and shake of a hip.
What if, instead, you could use this same interface to see if that shirt really goes with that pair of pants? Or how about that purse with that dress? That's the vision of Swivel from FaceCake Marketing Technologies and The Webcam Social Shopper from Zugara. Simply stand in front of an Internet-connected camera and try on your clothing before you buy it online.
Now, is it perfect? Far from it. The video was choppy and we have to wonder exactly how a system like this could tell you how something will really look on your without a full-body, 3D scan, but maybe that isn't the whole point. Maybe it's better to go from nothing to something, and right now when you're shopping online you have nothing. Will this tell you if those pants are going to be a little tight? Or that shirt a little to slim in the shoulders? No. But it will tell you how they look together.
Both companies go beyond virtually trying on clothes, however, and tackle the more broad realm of augmented reality. In reality, the virtual dressing room is just one example of a wide variety of implementations and, if the Kinect is any indication, we're going to see a lot more from where these come from.