Since 1991, Demo has been THE place for high-tech companies to announce new products. Skype, TiVo and the Palm Pilot are among the graduates of this conference which promises “a sneak peek at the future of the technology business”

twice a year. Chris Shipley (right picture), the sought-after producer of the event, says she meets with about 500 companies every year and looks at them “with a human eye for usefulness, practical advancement, and social change.” From this year’s crop, Shipley takes away two lessons: “Users are in charge and influence is highly distributed.” For their 6 minutes of stage and a table in the demonstrator pavilion, companies from all over the world are willing to part with $18,000. What they buy is the attention of 700 venture capitalists, corporate business development executives, influential journalists and bloggers as well as fellow entrepreneurs. A good half of them are presenting consumer technologies and products. On Day One, video applications, “wisdom of the crowds” sites and mobile applications took to the stage. Below is a selection. As impressive as these companies might be (and, frankly, some of them do seem a little flimsy), one of the “whoa!” moments came when three 20-something innovators sat down for a panel discussion with Shipley. Michael Callahan from Ambient demonstrated his thought-to-speech solution which he hopes will soon help handicapped people communicate and, further down the line, might find applications in games.   :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Our closer look at six companies Video killed the radio star In the post-YouTube world, companies are looking for ways to work the video angle whether they want to distribute video, touch up cell phone videos or help consumers discover new video content. Proxure Hailing from nearby San Luis Obispo, Proxure is introducing Filmaroo, an application that allows Internet users to share their video with their friends very easily. More private than YouTube and the likes, it automates and secures the process of uploading the video to a delivery network. Social networking is still part of the picture with sharing features and synchronization with mobile devices. MetaRADAR This San Bruno-based company started from a simple premise: we have to learn every site we go to from scratch and we must remember an increasing number of passwords. The idea behind the company’s product, still under beta, is to bring all of the user’s favorite content under one roof. This “media masher” is an interface from which users can search and view content without going to the original site.  The wisdom of many, many individuals The companies in this space are trying to harness the infamous “wisdom of the crowds”. As central authoritative sources have been replaced by many voices, it has become more difficult to find useful gems of information and to separate good stuff from pure noise. coComment Most online conversations are not really conversations. “It’s just me throwing something at you,” says Matt Colebourne, CEO of the Swiss company coComment. To fix that problem, coComment gives users a central place to keep track of the comments they make on various social networking sites. The second feature of the site is to track conversations across thousands of sites on any given topic. After 8 months, Colebourne says that his site has attracted 500,000 users. RelevantMind People turn to the Web to make buying decisions, whether they buy online or not. There are hundreds of opinions out there about the products they are thinking about buying. After sites where consumers can review products à la Epinions, here comes RelevantMind which pulls conversations from all across the web and aggregate them on a vertical page about a specific product category (road bikes and golf only at the moment).  Enablers Propel The San Jose company wants to help individuals manage their bandwidth so that time-sensitive applications get priority, i.e. a Skype conversation takes precedence over an upload. IT managers have able to do this for a while, but Propel brings their PBM (personal bandwidth management) solution to the masses. Where in the world… Myxer Take any site and build a store front where you can give away or sell its photos as wallpapers, its music as ringtones and so on. That’s what this Florida company is working on. Visitors can then enter their cell phone number and receive the data on their phone. It is as simple as that. Watch videos of these companies here! Isabelle Boucq - from San Diego - for Atelier FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at