SCO, the company the has earned the emnity of the Linux community, is getting into a new business, a smartphone application platform and set of services. Me Inc., available in October, offloads the heavy duty processing to edge servers and handles management, usage metering and billing services. At DEMOfall 05, the company demoed a few Me Inc. applications on a Treo. The applications including Shout, which provides multimedia capture,communications and sharing, and Vote, a polling application. It's a good time for SCO to diversity and build a new ecosystem.
DEMOfall 05 didn't have many companies in the RFID and sensor network category. One of the exceptions was Tendril, which has a developed a wireless sensor network middleware platform for Java. According to the company founders, Randy Willig and Tim Enwall, the software platform automatically recognizes and authenticates new sensors, catalogues their capabilities, assigns programmer property names to each capability, applies event-based rules to each property, issues reliable commands to controls based on those events, and handles routing, power management and monitoring. A .Net version is in the works.
The other was Echelon, which introduced its Pyxos platform for managing embedded wired and wireless control networks. Unlike its LonWorks platform, Pyxos embeds the sensors, which are self configuring, in machines and material, such clothing, building materials and office equipment. One of the more futuristic demoed was smart carpeting, which tracks movement and detects if someone has fallen or something (like a valuable sculpture or a safe) has been removed.
Stanford "persuasive technology" researcher B.J. Fogg believes that the over-50 crowd online, especially women, will become avid users of YackPack, an asynchronous instant audio messager. "Our audience will pay for things that give them emotional satisfaction," Fogg said, who founded the company. The Web app will go into testing in mid-November, and Fogg is looking to make deals with organizations like the AARP.
Jingle Networks' 1-800-FREE411, a free directory assistance service with a pay-per-call advertising model--the advertisers pay. Directory assistance is a highly profitable $8 billion business for the carriers, with service fees per call averaging $1.25, Latinovich said. Over 35,000 merchants, including Terminix, Dominos, ServiceMagic and 1-800-Flowers.com, are potential advertisers on the new service, although Latinovich wouldn't say how many ads have been served. The software detects the location and determines the SIC code (such as Los Angeles/car repair), and then offer pre-recorded ads, which are often assembled from snippets, such "ten percent off."
Trip Hawkins of Digital Chocolate demoed what he called the "next generation of personalization and messaging--SMS on steroids." Hawkins, who founded Electronic Arts, went on to say that the mobile phone is essentially a social computer. "That's where the revenue is, people will pay for social value." He introduced MLSN Sports Picks, where mobile phone users connect in social gaming communities. MLSN Sports Picks poses a series of questions, such as "Will Bonds hit a home run this weekend?," and users vote. The software alerts users to results, and it can be personalized by telling it your favorite sports and adding keywords, such as team names, to get more questions related to your interests. Users can also create their own leagues. Another example of social/mobile gaming is a virtual car customization and racing game. Digital Chocolate will charge about $3 per monthly subscription.
LightCrafts CEO Dean Tucker calls his company's LightZone the "biggest breakthrough in photo editing software since PhotoShop was first introduced." I'll wait for the reviews from photo editors to see if his claim holds water. A Mac version is due next month, and Windows and Linux early next year.
gNumber showed Unwired Buyer for eBay, a slick, and free, mobile phone application that automatically synchronizes with your eBay account and calls you in the final minutes of the auction so you can play the last-minute bidding game.
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