A sleek touch-screen laptop, a voice-to-text service for the iPhone, and various tools to help employees work more efficiently are being unveiled at Network World's DEMO 09 conference in Palm Desert, Calif. this week.
A start-up called Always Innovating will reveal the Touch Book, a portable device that works both as a netbook with a small keyboard and a touch-screen tablet. About the size of an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper folded in half, the Touch Book is for those times when the iPhone isn't quite enough but a notebook computer is too big, says DEMO Executive Producer Chris Shipley.
Based on open source hardware designs, the Touch Book weights two pounds, offers "never-before-seen battery life," and is ideal for typing e-mail, opening an Office document, or playing games and watching videos, according to DEMO's company guide.
"This device will find a ready market among people who want a more capable read/write device with which to navigate cloud computing," DEMO says. "And with its ARM processor, Linux and commodity components, we won't be surprised to see an ecosystem of applications grow up around this product."
Always Innovating will be one of about 40 companies demonstrating new products and services on Monday and Tuesday at DEMO, a launch pad for emerging technology.
While the show has a big focus on consumers, it will also showcase numerous tools IT pros and businesses may find interesting.
Symantec will launch Project Guru, which will appeal to IT pros whose family and friends expect them to solve all their technology problems. The project is a Web-based remote support tool that lets "tech savvy individuals" provide remote support to family and friends.
"It's kind of like the nerd in every social group," Shipley says. "It's software that is going to make it easy for you to provide remote long-distance support for all the people who count on you to do it."
Business users of the iPhone might be interested in ShoutOUT, a voice-to-text Short Message Service (SMS) application that will soon be available in Europe through a major wireless carrier.
"Built on Promptu Systems Corporation's powerful speech recognition technology, ShoutOUT lets users dictate messages in natural language, quickly check their text message and send the SMS to their intended recipients," DEMO says.
ShoutOUT sends the speech file to a remote server for transcribing, but lets users review the transcribed message for errors before sending to intended recipients. While the product is targeted at the consumer market, it could be useful to business users especially if it is extended to e-mail and calendaring, as the company promises.
"The iPhone is going to come into businesses whether businesses want them to or not," Shipley notes.
Businesses looking to improve collaboration may be interested in Cc:Betty, a DEMO company that aims to make e-mail conversations more productive by sorting through messages and parsing "conversations, files, images, media, dates and places, in the spirit of saving time while collaborating and coordinating with groups of people."
"We're conducting more and more business dialogs via e-mail, a tool that is great at delivering information, but not so effective when it comes to parsing and organizing it," according to DEMO.
Cc:Betty turns e-mail messages into Web-based collaboration spaces, and be useful "across a variety of business and personal productivity applications," DEMO organizers say.
Businesses having trouble organizing legal documents may want to check out Document Depository Corporation, which has made a hosted service that handles storage, tagging, sharing and retrieval, while giving companies the benefits of disaster recovery.
"It's a really clean, easy way to do document management," Shipley says. "It really resonated with me because we were ripping through file drawers at DEMO."
Speaking of disaster readiness, a DEMO presenter called Transformyx is unveiling RallyPoint, a Web-based crisis communication system designed for businesses in hurricane-, earthquake- and terrorist-prone areas.
"By combining all modes of standard communication with the Web and a touch-tone-based phone system, RallyPoint can quickly and accurately provide secure communications and accountability between management, employees, clients, vendors and even the media," DEMO says.
Another business-focused product to be unveiled at DEMO is Pixetell, an online software platform that lets you deliver mixed-media presentations that combine screen recordings, voice, Webcam, rich text and attachments, through existing channels such as e-mail, blogs, wikis, instant messages and Twitter.
DEMO will feature several technologies designed to make e-commerce easier, including Zipadi, a software-as-a-service platform that helps integrates digital publishing, e-commerce and CRM. The idea is to make online shopping interfaces more attractive by combining "rich media publishing with back office management that allows merchants large and small to make their catalogs truly interactive," according to DEMO.
In a sign of the economic times, this week's DEMO features only about half as many presenters as DEMO 08. Many start-ups are cutting back on engineering and lengthening development timelines, Shipley says. But there is still room for new, innovative ideas, particularly those that enable people to be more efficient and do more with less.
"Even if it's only 40 companies, we want to make sure it's 40 quality companies," Shipley says. "I am really optimistic about this class of 40 companies because they're so focused on delivering customer value and building businesses around these products."
This story, "DEMO 09: Voice-to-text SMS for IPhone, Touch Screen Laptop Turn Heads" was originally published by Network World.