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Product and service picks from DEMO Spring 2011

Keith Shaw | March 2, 2011
More than 50 startups launched products and services at DEMO Spring 2011, all hoping to become the next Facebook, Twitter or, or to attract just enough venture funding or press coverage to continue their dreams. All of the products or services were cool in their own way, but here (in no particular order) are my picks for the ones I found most useful, cool or awesome.

7 and 8) There were two online shopping services that utilized augmented reality and webcams in unique ways. Both FaceCake Marketing's Swivel and Zugara's webcam Social Shopping services let you stand in front of your webcam and virtually try on clothes, accessories and other items before you buy. It's a great use of Kinect-like technology, and will only get better with improvements in that and webcams.

9) The Marginize browser plug-in (Chrome, Safari and Firefox) adds a social aspect to any Web page -- appearing on the side of the page, it lets you see who else is viewing (and/or commenting on) that page, generating a community of interest around that page. Good for news sites as well as business product pages.

10) I'm hoping that the Next Island virtual world people can make us forget about Second Life. The game takes aspects of the multiplayer gaming experience of World of Warcraft (quests, raids/events and community) as well as the casual gaming experience of Farmville/Cityville (in-game purchases, friendly interactions).

11) Interestingly, there were several iPad-related apps announced at the show (timely with the iPad 2 announcement) -- my favorite is the News360 app, which aggregates news from multiple news sources and lets you personalize via your own interests (by letting you set up topics or even letting it search Facebook to see what you've already liked). It has a very slick interface and can eliminate the need to read multiple news feeds in different apps.

12) Another fun app was HighNote, which lets users send free media-enhanced messages via your mobile phone to other users. Messages can include video, music, voice recording, pictures, maps, and even iTunes songs.

13) Ending the show on a high note was ON Voicefeed, which lets you provide personalized voicemail messages for each incoming caller (based on their incoming number, of course). It's visual voicemail made easy, letting you provide separate messages for your spouse, boss, parents, etc. Bonus points -- the voicemail messages you receive are stored in the cloud for retrieval later.

There's more DEMO coverage online -- including a bunch of video interviews that we conducted at the show. You can also watch every demonstrator's presentation at


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