Forget Facebook and iPad: 3 emerging tech start-ups to watch during and afterSXSWi
Technology’s most cutting edge is at SXSW Interactive this week, with countless new gadgets being released (why, hello, “The new iPad”) products launched and ideas vying for the honor of next Wave of the Future.
Among the myriad newcomers, from web hosting companies to brand marketing ideas to Facebook apps and one satellite video site that could put Google Earth out of business; it’s hard to drill down and find the really cool stuff that has any staying power.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how much of what we’re seeing among the 300-plus exhibitors at SXSW will be around even long enough to see SXSWi 2013.
But here are our picks for the Tech Standouts - chosen either because they could give the Big Names a real run for their money, or because they’re just super cool and you should hear about them before they run out of money and fade back into someone’s brain. We left off things like new content management systems, established companies, hosting sites, etc., because really, these are way more fun.
Take a look at the name for a minute, and you’ll see that while you pronounce it like “earth cast,” it really says, “You are the cast.”
It actually means both.
This satellite video site is what Google Earth wants to be — or it will be once all the cameras are on the International Space Station later on this year.
Billed as the world’s first high-def streaming video of the earth, Urthecast will have video streams of some part of the earth for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unlike Google Earth, which may or may not have a three-year-old still shot of your house with last years’ renters’ car in the driveway, Urthecast is close to real time.
And as if that’s not cool enough, you can link Urthecast to anything that has geotags — Twitter and Facebook, for instance — and it’ll show what people are saying in those spots, with icons overlaid on the video.
For example, they’re rolling out what they’re calling “Alpha One,” the “first iteration of their software,” so people can see video of downtown Austin and, while looking at the map, watch SXSW Tweets popping up at various places all over the downtown area. Looking at the screen of today’s video, we see a label at the top that says the next film will be shot and beamed on March 20. That’s better than 2016.
“We’re hoping to get a sense of what people will be looking for when the cameras go live; how they want to benefit from the fact that this is an open-source project,” says Eric Bieller, the Vancouver-based UrtheCast’s head of development.
The UrtheCast cameras are scheduled for launch in late 2012, aboard the Russian Soyuz Mission.
UrtheCast’s head of product, Matt Boyd, will be giving a presentation at Next Stage: BUILT, Tuesday March 13, at noon.
This is one of those apps/sites that gets better the more of your friends that use it. And that is the rub obviously, as we all have way too many apps and social networks to manage as is.
But this one, based in New York City, could a super cool and hyper-local alternative to the Yelp! reviews that are becoming way more popular than they should be. (I mean, who are we kidding? Yelp! reviewers could be anyone, including competitors or paid markets, and aren’t we bombarded with corporate advertising enough as it is?)
Whether you agree with your friends or not, having your friends review restaurants and venues in their own cities is 100 times more helpful than simply reading some random stranger’s ideas.
LocalFave is an esthetically attractive and far more trustworthy alternative to those huge, random review sites out there — and you can really drill down on the truly important questions, like, “Who makes the best fried chicken in Austin?”
See? You probably know 10 people with an opinion on that.
“The other sites have gotten so big and commercialized,” said Kyle Chen, a promoter standing near LocalFave’s booth at SXSW. “It’s just not one-size-fits-all anymore.”
LocalFave is one of those apps that may or may not last, because it kind of depends on going viral. But if it tanks, it won’t be because it’s not a great idea.
This is like a Kickstart for bands, and it’s about dang time someone came up with a way to elbow out the Big Anonymous Record Companies and let the public decide who the rock stars really are.
The very first 90 days of ArtistSignal started on Monday, March 12, at SXSW Interactive. Artists who have uploaded their songs to the site have 90 days to convince people across the world to vote for them and make them their No. 1 favorite band on the site.
When that happens, the site gives $25,000 to the artist or band to try and make it for real. At press time, some singer-songwriter from Missouri is at No. 1 with 388 votes. His first song is about how he “went to Austin for a one-night stand.”
Seattle-based Clayton Timmons, the fresh-faced founder who appears to be in his 20s, turned on the site about three weeks ago — and the first 90 days of voting started today.
The site is free, and it’s all about letting the public pick the Next Big Thing. Enough, Timmons says, of letting corporate music pick our Billboard hits for us.
Amen to that.
Glomper, a Facebook-event app that features a cute little fuzzy guy and lots of adorable features that let you power-charge your events calendar.
SoJoLife by Blendology is an awesome idea for brand managers. It looks like a jump drive, which can be customized to look like anything. You hand it out to attendees at big networking events, and then instead of exchanging business cards, they simply touch their drives together and it automatically exchanges information — along with where and when you met them, and even with a picture if the person has fully loaded their drive.
Palmu, which launched a week ago: It lets you gather your friends’ music playlists on iPod or iPhone so that you can check out their collection. You can’t listen to it - you have to get it on iTunes - but still. You get the list, and that’s a cool idea in itself.