DEMO: 70 companies hope to please venture capitalists

Smart new technologies debuted at this year's influential high-tech showcase

The annual Demo 2007 conference in California last week laid bare for an audience of venture capitalists the results of thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears on the part of hardware and software engineers.

In the hopes of attracting investment dollars, this year’s event saw 70 companies get six minutes each on stage to strut their high-tech stuff.

Here’s a quick look at a handful of the presenters from A to Z. But in high tech, numbers always come first.

6th Sense Analytics unveiled a data-collection platform for measuring unstructured processes. In its first implementation the technology is targeted at monitoring and measuring software development projects, on or offshore.

With Eclipse as the backbone for most Java development, 6th Sense taps into the infrastructure of all development technologies that plug into Eclipse to give managers an inside look at the status of a project.

“A project manager in the US can now know when an offshore developer has instantiated the debugger or when they are editing the file. The system monitors files by checking byte count,” says Greg Burnell, co-founder and CEO.

By monitoring sign-in and sign-out times in context, an Active Time feature measures the amount of time spent actively developing software in such contexts as modelling, Unified Modeling Language design, and testing.

Burnell says 6th Sense is perfect for monitoring offshore developers because it insulates managers from cultural differences.

“The neat thing is it is an empirical method, so an hour of active time in China is the same as in the US or India,” Burnell says.

A is for Adobe Systems, and for those who spend more time online than off but who always worry about getting disconnected, Adobe officially unveiled Apollo, a not-very-well-kept secret project that takes RIA (rich internet applications) and puts them back on the desktop.

The Apollo platform offers nervous users the reassurance of desktop storage and desktop performance, overcoming, Adobe officials claim, “the constraints of a browser”.

While most companies presenting at Demo had as their market segment either consumer or enterprise, Devicescape Software offered a technology that straddles both markets.

Devicescape introduced what it calls a “trick” technology to ease access to wi-fi hot spots by logging the user on to the network before they actually log on.

Part of what Glenn Flinchbaugh, vice president of products, calls “the secret sauce” is a technology that can get users on to almost any network without being authenticated onto that network.

“We have a trick that lets us go over the network before we are logged in,” Flinchbaugh says.

When a user attempts to gain access to a hotspot, such as one managed by T-Mobile, the device sends an alert or signal to the Devicescape server identifying itself and telling the server what network it is trying to gain access to.

The Devicescape server sends a signal back that includes the data on user name, password and instruction on how to navigate the log-in procedures.

The server has in its database about 30 major networks and their log-in procedures and new networks are constantly being added.

Flinchbaugh says that while the small amount of information about the hotspot operator’s network would not allow a user to log in and surf the web, there is enough information to configure the device to the hot spot.

The technology will be available for free download as well as licensed to device vendors and chip manufacturers.

Carrying the concept of distributed applications where no software has gone before, DARTdevices will allow developers to create a single application that can use the unique resources of multiple devices.

Put the Dart Player on multiple devices and they all become one virtual device, according to Rich Mirabella, CEO. The Player exposes the devices’ content, programs and resources and any application written to the Player platform will run as if it is on one device.

“The applications spread and configure themselves,” Mirabella says.

Using a technology called Renditions, the single application can also adapt to various screen sizes, dot pitch, keyboard, and other usability factors.

Because a Dart Player-enabled application can directly see all the hardware capabilities when executing any software feature, it can decide which device has the fastest processor or which device has built in GPS and use those devices to complete a task.

Zoho Notebook introduced yet another online desktop software suite. But this time the Web 2.0 Office-like suite includes a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation application will also add business solutions to the mix with CRM and project management, plus wiki applications for collaboration.

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