September 13, 2008 |
Early this week we have witnessed two major technology events with dozens of innovative ideas introduced. 72 startups and established companies introduced their new projects at DEMOfall and 52 more at TechCrunch 50. While we will be sure to continue arguing if winners are actually innovative enough to get their prizes, I thought it would be a good idea to present a short list of the startups that I personally feel like actually providing some real value – both for our real lives and online lives. I know it has not been easy to track all the startups launched over the week so hopefully this list will help you find something useful and valuable for yourself. Startups are sorted alphabetically and each of the descriptions is accompanied with a video of the company introducing itself.
It is a questionable startup that I see becoming truly useful if it gains enough traction from users. The idea is to connect people to use cars more efficiently for commutes so that you don’t travel alone (and pay for the gas alone) but let people traveling along the same routes join you and pay their portion as well. While it does sound like a strange idea to turn your car into something of a taxi, I feel it can become useful when (or if) it gets enough users in. True, this uncomfortable feeling of sharing your car with others for money may not be a good thing about the idea, but hopefully thinking about efficient use of resources and impact of such an approach on environment will change someone’s mind on this – and wise promotion and marketing may very well do wonders to this startup.
FitBit (TechCrunch 50)
Unfortunately, this is not simply a startup that you can start using and enjoying with a web-based interface right now but if there are things launched over the week that present real-life value, FitBit is certainly one of them. In the 21st century many people lead sedentary life without bothering to do anything to improve their health. And here is what FitBit offers a solution for with its device resembling a big paperclip to track all activities of a user throughout the day. The $99-device is clipped to a user’s clothes to wear all day and a user will be able to see the reports on his or her physical performance later via a web site. This definitely sounds like a great option for anyone too lazy to exercise out of their free will without constant reminders. The sales are promised to begin late this year or early 2009 with pre-orders accepted already.
GoodGuide (TechCrunch 50)
This startup is intended to help make your shopping better by providing all the information on products you are evaluating for buying and their manufacturers, like social impact, health and environmental friendliness so that you could make a more thoughtful decision before buying. The website only focuses on personal care products. The company employed a team of scientists and technologists to compile a comprehensive database on 60 thousand products and their manufacturers from multiple information sources. Feedback from users is also taken into account and is included into profiles for products here. Search for products can be performed on the website or a user can request information by a text message when shopping.
Maverick solves a real problem for people who constantly have their cell phones lost or stolen (me included). The application is intended to protect and restore your data, including all your contacts, and track usage of your handheld device in case of loss or stealing. If a device is stolen, all the information will be encrypted so that the new owner could not access them. The application will also send all the information about the actions performed with the phone by sms to another cell phone number of your choice. What’s more, you can completely disable the device remotely using Maverick application. The best part is that Maverick will even send all your contacts to you so even if you don’t get your phone back, you will at least have all your contacts at your disposal. The application is not available for purchase yet but is promised to come soon.
RealDVD is an allegedly legal way to rip all your DVDs and manage your library on your PC without violating copyright and licenses. The “legal” part is because the DVD is ripped completely along with all the limitations available – and the content can only be viewed on one device so users can not illegally share the movies they rip off their disks. The application features ability to browse movies by genre, for example, and you will also be able to watch all the movies on the go on your laptop, at the same time saving your battery life without playing them from the disks. The application is sold for $30 with price increases if you want to have your movies available on more than one machine.
I know that the majority of people are perfectly fine with the way Google handles our search queries but there are situations when you really want search engine to understand your question better and provide the answer you are really looking for. And here is where SemantiFind comes to play with its semantic search engine built right on top of Google itself. Right now SemantiFind only works as a toolbar for Firefox but further browsers and search engines are also promised to arrive later. This tool that can be described as an add-on for Google promises to understand exactly what you want to find and fetch the right results to you instead of making you constantly refine your search terms to get those results. It really sounds like a good idea because companies that built their semantic search engines from scratch definitely take too long to come up with working solutions. Hopefully this new approach will prove to be more useful.
UsableLogin is quite a nice tool intended to help you manage all your online login needs with just one password. We have already seen attempts to help us gather all our passwords in one secure place, like PassPack to store all your passwords in the same safe place or Clipperz that also offers a centralized log-in functionality to any site from their application. UsableLogin is a new attempt in this field. Basically UsableLogin is an application that allows you to choose one simple code word to log in to any web site. And while you use that one word for log in, the application in the background will create for you secure passwords for every new website you register for. It works simply as a browser plug-in available for allegedly any web browser. The only disadvantage as I now see is that while the application has been officially announced this week, it will only be actually launched early next year so for now we are offered to sign up on their site to be notified when it is available.