DEMO Spring 2011 Highlights: Promising Companies Who Are Not Quite Ready for Prime-Time

One of the joys of DEMO is seeing technology trends emerge and evolve. This year there were several companies who had obviously invested a lot of resources and development time in the science behind their product but still managed to come off  as too specialized for wholesale adoption  by businesses or consumers. As part of our series on DEMO Spring 2011 the  following are three companies who I think are working on very interesting technologies that is still not quite ready for prime time.

The first of these was the MindWave BrainCubed Education Bundle (really, could they have come up with a longer name?) by NeuroSky. With a background in EEG machines, NeuroSky has developed a headgear fashion accessory the Borg would be proud of. The purpose of the headgear is to interpret brainwaves and monitor brain function and although it was really developed to access the health and activity of the brain the technology also powers things like the Star Wars Force Trainer  and the Mattel Mindflex.

Although NeuroSky has  a direct to consumer product in the MindWave BrainCubed Education Bundle, as well as apps for very basic games that can be played solely through the user relaxing or focusing, their big play is packaged into a product by a larger game manufacturer. That is if Force Trainer and Mindflex are hits. Ultimately their core audience really seems to be more science based with researchers as well as those in the medical industry being the true target.

Then there was the Cyclic Variations in Altitude Conditioning (which would have beat NeuroSky’s titles but at least had an acronym of CVAC). CVAC wins the most interesting yet impractical (at least for consumers) device award. It is an escape pod shaped human-sized piece of equipment into which the user sits down.  Then, with the use of a vacuum, the chamber is pressurized in order  to simulate breathing at  higher altitudes. Their product is based on the fact that living or “training”  at  high altitudes can produce health benefits resulting from  increased conditioning of the  pulmonary system and the increased oxygen carrying capacity of the body.

But the unit’s base cost makes it impractical for the home, aside from the question of where would you put such a large noisy device. The CVAC units seem geared for health or fitness clubs like the one shown in the video below whose owner does a walk through of the system far better than President and Chief Executive Allen Ruzskowski during the presentation at DEMO:

And the last of the not quite ready for prime-time crew was ecoATM. Essentially it is a recycling device, similar to and invested in by Coinstar, that allows consumers to recycle their phones for cash. The device is self service and in theory prices your phone via visual scan and data check, takes a copy of your id, then quotes and pays you a price for the device. ecoATM then works with other green recyclers to either resell the device in secondary markets or melt-down the components for reuse.

This is an interesting idea, but the malfunctioning DEMO version did not bode well for any potential  maintenance and customer service issues on such a machine. Additionally,  the potential for fraud and money laundering with the use of the devices is high, despite the companies claims that they can mitigate such threats. I am also unsure about the “green” ethics of a company that increases the churn in already short lived devices like cell phones. But still VentureBeat did give them a DEMOgod award at the end of the show, so what do I know?

Next in the series I will look at the what I feel are the top companies at DEMO Spring 2011 who are ready for prime time.

About Angel Djambazov

Born in Bulgaria, Angel Djambazov has spent his professional career in the fields of journalism and online marketing. In his journalistic career he worked as an editor on several newspapers and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Wyoming Homes and Living Magazine. Later his career path led to online marketing where while working at OnlineShoes he earned the Affiliate Manager of the Year (2006) award at the Affiliate Summit, and In-house Manager of the Year (2006) award by ABestWeb.

For four years Angel served as OPM for Jones Soda for which he won his second Affiliate Manger of the Year (2009) award at Affiliate Summit.

Currently Angel serves as OPM for KEEN Footwear and MedicalRecords.com. His former clients include: Dell, Real Networks, Jones Soda, Intelius, Graphicly, Chrome Bags, Onlineshoes.com, Vitamin Angels, The Safecig, and Bag Borrow or Steal.

Angel is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher for ReveNews.com and ReveNews.org.

Angel lives north of Seattle, spending his free time reading up on obscure scientific references made by his wife MGX, while keeping up with a horde of cats and a library of books.

You can find Angel on Twitter @djambazov.

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