17 Nov 2010

Demo night – Autumn Edition – Roundup from Lauren McGregor and Helen Keegan

It feels like it was ages ago, but it was in fact only a few weeks ago that we held one of our much loved MoMoLo Demo Nights – Autumn edition … a night of some of the best developments in mobile and it delivered! The app market is one of the most crowded and hard to get into in mobile and on the night we showcased some very interesting new-comers indeed. We had everything from security, to planning, to gaming … and as always some fantastic presenters.

Our sponsors for the evening were LUMU Invest who stepped in at the last minute to ensure that we were able to run the event. A very big thank you to Muriel Devillers for her support. LUMU Invest are part of the team behind EuropeMob and UKMob and so the evening began with a short introduction from Julien Fourgeaud from UKMob (or UK Mobile Association) to tell us all about it Julien introduced us to the mobile application landscape taking us on a journey through the many facets in developments across the consumer, governmental, corporate and hackers/developers ecosystem within the market. He stressed the need for this ecosystem to come together, as great ideas come from everywhere … from the student in their dorm room to the developer sat within a mobile operator. On this basis Julian and his colleagues decided to build an association to do just this, organising matchmaking, seminars and conferences to connect these very different people together.

Then we got straight into the demos …

Psonar. First to the start were the chaps behind Psonar http://www.psonar.com/, Martin Rigby (CEO) and Chris Moores – one of my favourite things about a new solution is that looks to resolve an issue that we have all experienced … that sad moment when we lose our mobile or have it stolen or it becomes damaged beyond repair, and (in some cases) it dawns on us that we have lost all the data on our phones. Psonar specifically addresses this issue of losing your music by creating a fully online and streamed music service with an additional social side too. The solution is accessed via the mobile phone web browser, using QuickTime, and includes features like playlists, artists, albums etc ... looking fairly similar to Apple iTunes interface. Touch gesture rearranges any of the tracks. What I liked about this solution is that being web based, there is no need to download anything from an app store. The obvious question of the legalities/rights of the music was raised and Psonar does not currently own a license from the publishers. However, Psonar offers music publishers an interesting new revenue stream via micro payments (partnered with Bango where they can build as a kind of 'eBay for music' - allowing users to sell their music. A very interesting proposition and one that we saw last year at Heroes of the Mobile Screen. It seems to have come on quite a bit since their pitch to the Teenage Heroes.

Roulette Cricket. Next up was Dave Tharp, from Roulette Cricket (they recently came second and won Euro 50k in this year’s Vodafone Mobile Clicks competition) who has created an ingenious application surrounding the game of cricket … The idea first came to Dave when he was at Lords and his group were deciding who was going to buy the next round of drinks. It is essentially a live games app played during a live game of cricket. Each match is segmented into 18 (hence Roulette) and displays interactive feeds of live cricket, where you can play for prizes and bet on matches .... the app is currently free to download and the play for prizes works out around £2 per month and the team take a small revenue from the (optional) betting. The game can be adapted to other sports – baseball, football, whatever. A lovely idea indeed and well executed. The rise in popularity of gaming is certainly going to work in this app’s favour. Currently available on iPhone. Other platforms coming soon.

Phil Woodward had a dream, a dream to connect the real world with online world and lo Hipsnip was born. This is a web based mobile app notepad, the key differentiator being that it is action orientated – for example the movie you want to see or the bottle of wine you want to remember to buy. You can enhance your notes with a social element, add geo tagging and even barcode scanning. The results are designed to be 'smart results' not static notes, for example if I was to make a note of something that I have seen that I wanted, like a new laptop, the note will be linked directly with say a review of it on CNET. You can view your notes in the form of ‘snips’ via a Twitter styled feed. As we are hearing more and more about tablet style devices like the iPad making waves in the business world, I am sure that the two would work well together. One to watch.

Toshl. Then next to take to the stage was the very charismatic, and I have to say one of Lauren’s favourite presenters of the evening, Andraz Logar, the CEO behind Toshl. The Slovenian based team, who had spent the weekend building stuff at Over The Air, has created the app to track spending and exposes your poor spending. Built for Android, Apple and Maemo based devices, you can add expenses and sync them all live via the cloud. The solution currently has an impressive 45,000 users, with 3000 expenses tracked every day. What makes this app stand out from the competition is that it does not attach to bank, so it can be used globally, including places where bank accounts are not the norm. Excitingly though the team is in negotiation with a UK bank, and the potential to white label its service makes it a potentially huge revenue generator from the team. Is this a rival to previous demo’ers, Ribot and their Little Spender service?

Travel Plan. Many of us have had to travel for work and it is not long before the novelty wears off and the need for a seamless trip becomes paramount. That is where Travel Plan comes into play, a name that you may well recognise as it is currently a successful desktop application that has been on the market for the last 12 years. Mark Melody demoed the mobile version (iPhone only for now) of the app, which is essentially an offline tracker for the frequent traveler. I like that it is offline as we do not always have WiFi available and the high cost of data roaming is an instant turn-off for us all. The application not only acts as a travel planner for you, but also allows you to check for fares and availability of flights offline and also works for hotels and car hire. You can send updates directly to email and even to your social network ... should you so wish.

Myappmarks. Self confessed newbie to the scene, Adrian Cuthbert, had one of the most interesting propositions on the night and one that certainly got the audience’s attention. His application, Myappmarks, is an intelligent way to bookmark the apps that you love and discover, via the cloud. Currently in beta and available on iPhone, the application searches your local area via your mobile and identifies say Foursquare and allows you to instantly check-in and/or download the app direct from the app store.

Milestone Planner. Social Optic's Benjamin Ellis came to tell us about his Milestone planner (who were also shortlisted for the Vodafone Mobile Clicks competition this year)- everyone needs a plan and plans all the time when shared. Everyone can update this shared plan from anywhere and it is previewed as a timeline including any key milestones ... for example, the next seven days. The solution includes full RSS and twitter integration, facilitating a discussion around the a plan. The team is looking into further device integration for e.g. Dell Streak. Another cool thing about this planner is that you can produce reports directly, this can be on a daily, weekly or any other basis. The app currently runs in a freemium model with paid for add-ons. One of the interesting things about this service is that it recognises that not all the people using your plan are linear thinkers and the way the app works means that it can accommodate that too.

Qootia. Tomaz StolfaQootia - Tomaz began his demo with a video, which you can view on the website, and this describes his solution perfectly. Basically it is a real time game that the public can directly interact with via their mobile phone. The team first trialled the game during the World Cup and set up in 12 bars across 6 cities over a total of 45 matches. Users were encouraged to dial in to compete against other bars in a game of penalty shoot out. There were a number of innovative controls, but one that I thought was great, especially to get the crowd excited, was to scream down the phone to set the power of penalty shots. 95% of those that played did not opt out, which is phenomenal and has immediate implications for the gaming and advertising market. This is a lot of fun and had the audience playing very quickly to show how powerful this is as a concept. Based on voice technology, this isn’t about downloading an app or mobile web which means it’s ultimately accessible. Great to see old technology thought of in a new way.

Spodtronic. Mikko Linnamäki CEO - spodtronic.com - we all know about app store radio stations, in fact there are 480 apps for radios in the app stores currently. Mikko and his team decided to create one place for all these apps to live and generates income via advertising. This app would certainly be an attractive addition to the phone, giving you access to all the radio stations available via one single app. They have apps for most smartphone platforms and shared with us how important Nokia and Symbian were to them in terms of downloads and usage and showed a live waterfall infographic showing how many people were using their systems and on which platform. Nokia won hands down. IPhone obsessives – take note!

Next for the 'Over night hack-a-thon' winners from Over the Air ....

Robot love. Mobile Monday London regular, Adam Cohen Rose - won Best Hardware Hack and Best Use of Other Features. Adam has a thing for robots. He likes to build them and this year at Over The Air, he built a robot out of Lego and devised a way for it to follow him around using the iPhone 4's face recognition software. The robot has a light sensor that picks up square on the iPhone 4 when it identifies a face ... hilarious demo, with many of the audience trying to trick the robot into following their face and rather than Adam’s. It showed a very human side to technology and also was a glimpse into how we might be interacting with machines in the future.

Lobster. Audience Favourite and Most Cheeky App Award - well it had to go to the Lobster App, demoed by Tom Hannen - an iPhone app (not approved and/or submitted we might add as we don’t think TFL would like it) that simulates the oyster card beep (I guess the team call this the lobster app beep…) and as seen in the video they showed us (see below), fools the bus driver. Great fun and kudos to the team for the pre-planning that went into this so that they had the time to go and do the filming. Follow the team’s antics here @lobsterapp.


And last but not least, we had drama from Ewan Spence. He likes to go a little over the top at Over The Air each year, and this year was no exception. Ok, so we didn’t have Cyber Men or Daleks this year, but I think I liked the Drone much better anyway. It was an innovative use of using an iPhone or iPad as a remote control able assisted by Ewan’s great comic timing. Ewan's drone was controlled remotely by iPhone and iPad, it had an on board video camera, and was definitely a show stealer and well deserved the Best in Show Award.  You can see them in action at Over The Air in the video below – it’s great fun and worth a peek.


So that’s another demo night over. A big thank you to LUMU Invest for sponsoring the event and for all the wonderful people who took the time to share with us what they’re up to. And a special thank you to the participants of the Over The Air  overnight hackathon who suffered sleep deprivation in order to entertain and inform us.