More cool stuff from startups at DEMO

A roundup of the conference

360desktop

The PC desktop (the space on your screen, not the machine) hasn’t really changed in the last 15 years, despite internet advances. It’s still a place where users dump their folders, application shortcut icons, assorted files and other junk. If the user has even changed the wallpaper of his desktop, the image is usually hidden behind the rows and columns of icons. New web or desktop gadgets (or widgets) make the problem worse, as they end up taking more of the desktop’s real estate.

Australian company 360desktop aims to change this with its “panoramic desktop platform”. Available for free from its website, the 360desktop platform extends the Windows desktop into a panoramic workspace (users can pan either left or right).

In addition to giving users a way to better organise their existing desktop content (such as application shortcuts, files or folders), the 360 platform lets users add Web 2.0-type content, such as web pages, videos, RSS feeds, slide shows and widgets. This creates a dynamic desktop that lets users get away from their browser for content.

Content publishers and advertisers should also take note: The platform allows brand owners to create and deliver content dynamically to their target audiences, through the desktop instead of a browser or web page. For example, a movie studio could create a “360” that includes images from the movie, but also animated interactive scenes, movie trailers, etc, that can also be launched at specific times through the campaign.

Even enterprises can get in on the act. They will be able to create special private “360” content that can be distributed through a private intranet, or for selected partners, to deliver content to specified desktops. While the company hopes for a community of users who create specialised “360” desktops for others to download and enjoy, the company will allow for private ones as well.

The company says advertisers will pay for branded channels through the 360desktop web site, but they also plan on working with advertisers for special advertising areas on the 360desktop platform, as well as special corporate licensing opportunities.

SceneCaster

SceneCaster wants to take the 3D web and make it mainstream, so that even Mum can start building virtual areas that she can share.

While virtual worlds like Second Life allow its users to build their own virtual stuff (including rooms, furniture, clothes and other “stuff”), it usually involves a complicated programming language and more effort than a user wants to make. SceneCaster users work with a browser plug-in and use drag-and-drop tools to create their own 3D space.

The tool will be integrated with Google’s 3D Warehouse, which includes 3D models of virtually everything you’d want to furnish in your virtual scene. In addition, the company will have deals with e-commerce sites where users can look at someone’s virtual scene and then click over to purchase the real item online. For example, if you like the virtual couch in one scene, you can buy the actual couch from one of SceneCaster’s partners.

Users will be able to build their scenes through creating dimensions of any size, through templates or directly from scratch. The most likely early users of this free service will be those interested in interior decoration and design, furniture stores that want to create a virtual showroom for customers, or even a restaurant or nightclub that wants to show customers what the inside of their real locations look like.

“We think SceneCaster will be a new form of digital art online,” says Mark Zohar, founder of SceneCaster. “It’s not a virtual world, but rather a virtual experience.”

Social network integration means users can export their scenes into Facebook and Flickr (you can export static shots of the scenes to the photo site), for example.

Ncursion: MyGladiator.com

When Facebook opened up its API earlier this year, it led to a flood of new applications for the social networking platform. One company that wants to make more interactive games through social networking is Ncursion, which launches its MyGladiator.com game and website at DEMOfall 2007.

The game lets Facebook users create a virtual gladiator character, train him to improve certain attributes (strength and intelligence), and then face off against other opponents. The battle consists of five rounds, and includes some Flash animation to keep you entertained.

Social networking also allows Facebook users to view and “gamble” on others’ gladiator fights — spectators receive 100 gold to bet on each match, and get to do the “thumbs up/thumbs down” on conquered gladiators at the end of each match (the virtual gladiators never get deleted, though).

The self-funded company says it is looking at possibly adapting its platform to other genres and styles of fighting games, but also plans on creating more Facebook games as well.

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