DEMO Fall 2012 wrapped up in Santa Clara today, where 77 startups took the stage to show off their apps, services and products. The young companies were given six minutes to pitch their ideas and impress the audience, collectively competing for the $1 million advertising prize that went to the idea with the most promise.
From a bird identification app and an “Internet of Things” to apartment finders and augmented reality, here are the 14 startups that stood out from the pack during the three-day launch event.
RentLingo, which was picked as the best of the “Alpha Pitches” given by student entrepreneurs, began as a simple class project at Stanford. Co-founders Dan Laufer and Byron Singh interviewed hundreds of tenants, apartment owners and property managers, during which a pattern emerged. Although there are scores of sites that allow you to browse apartment listings, there is no easy way to find information on prospective tenants, roommates or sublets.
So RentLingo decided to use social networking to make the rental process less of a pain in the ass and help landlords find great tenants and renters find the best apartments. To do that, the startup aggregates info from the major listings players and uses Facebook’s Open Graph to give users social context as they search for apartments. It presents this all via a dynamic map UI, giving listings more of a localized feel and allowing you to see what friends have lived in a particular area and reach out to them (within the app) to ask questions.
Your friends can then drag and drop a comment about the apartment, all of which is visible to people within your network and social graph. The site aggregates and lets you view all of this social sentiment around each listing, aiming to provide a more effective and relevant “review” system. Listings with reviews from your network show up as blue pins, while national listings show up as red pins, all of which can be easily filtered by price, size, location and recency.
The idea is to turn the platform into a place where owners go to see what renters are saying about them (a la Yelp) and to help students and renters find great spots with the help of their social graph and location targeting. With Padmapper, Craigslist, Zumper and seemingly hundreds more, it’s a crowded space, but RentLingo has taken a unique angle that could be powerful at scale.
Austin-based Ube (pronounced yoo-bee) took home the “People’s Choice Award” at DEMO because it plays into our sci-fi-fueled visions of what technology will do to our homes over the next few decades. The startup is trying to take the unintuitive and costly world of home technology and make it simple and cheap, while removing the need for extra hardware or programming.
Ube’s app allows users to easily control IP-enabled smart devices using their Android or iPhone. This includes smart TVs, set top boxes, AV receivers, DVD players, thermostats, garage doors openers and more. You can even use the app to control your devices while you’re away from home using the Ube Cloud — all you need is a smartphone and a WiFi router. The company said that its app will work with over 200 IP-controlled devices when it launches next month. Peter covered Ube’s launch yesterday, which you can check out here for an in-depth review.
It was also a big day for Rock Health (and healthtech at large), as two of DEMO’s five winners were part of the health accelerator’s most recent batch. We covered Rock Health’s third batch here, and descriptions are included below.
Neumitra develops data-driven technologies to address the effects of stress on health, productivity, and happiness. More specifically, the company is developing both wearable and mobile tech that uses biosensors to monitor your autonomic nervous system and the contextual and personal cues that set off stress. The company collects that data, offering analytics and a dashboard that highlight key metrics — both for individuals and large organizations.
At DEMO, Neumitra presented its newest product, Bandu, a smart watch that helps users reduce stress and “slow down.” Using smart sensors to identify biometric signals, Bandu monitors your body temperature, motion and skin conductance. When it finds significant changes in the norm (i.e. red flags that indicate an increase in stress), the device prompts you to take a number of mood-altering actions, of the non-narcotic or barbiturate variety, of course. Sending notifications to your phone, Bandu might suggest that you play a game, or call a kindly grandmother, or play some music.
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