Daily Archives: September 18, 2008

FlyScreen brings Web Services to the Not-So-Idle Screen

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It hardly seems like a week has elapsed since TechCrunch 50 brought together 50 (actually 52) of the best and brightest technology starups the internets have to offer, yet here we are 7 days after everything wrapped up and still information is trickling out.One piece of particular interest is the latest from MOPocket creater Justin Oberman, a mobile application called FlyScreen which allows users to add their favorite web services to their phone’s sleep screen.The basic idea is that all that time your phone spends in “idle” mode could be better put to use displaying dynamic content of your choosing, providing zero click access to the content accessed most. Widgets are added via myflyscreen.com and displayed in sequence on the screen when it would otherwise be displaying a clock, animation or some other battery wasting triviality.Widgets are built specifically for the platform. The key advantage is that developers would only need “web level” programming knowledge rather than native calls for each device. FlyScreen is currently only available for Symbianplatforms, but a Blackberry version is in the works as is a version for Android once the platform isactually available.So what does the business opportunity look like? Widgets have been hashed and re-hashed numerous times over, normally with the biggest issue being how to actually monetize content.  In the case of FlyScreen, Justin is not looking just to branding opportunities as already used by numerous other widget producers, but has also included the equivalent of Google AdWords unobtrusively located at the top of the widgets displayed. Given the huge number of Symbian devices currently in use, the market is there to be seized.The company also has plans to license their idle screen technology as an alternative to advertising which is likely to be a more compelling business model for users and investors. FlyScreen is currently in private alpha, but mobilejones.com will provide a hands-on review of the application soon.

Tonchidot delights, confuses at TechCrunch 50

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winner of the TechCrunch50 were to be chosed on audience cheers alone, Tonchidot’s Sekai Camera would certainly have won by a mile.The Tokyo-based company started as they meant to go on – with much enthusiasm, much gloss and a whole lot of stuff that makes little sense outside of the Akihabara district.The presenter (whose name we never really found out) started with a strong assertion – “Look Up, Not Down!!!”. He then ran a video demo and read the remainder of the presentation in heavily fragmented English, explaining the core ideas and technologies behind the “Sekai Camera”.The Sekai Camera is an application for the iPhone which correlates information about your geographical location, proximity to others and tags which have been added by other users to create a faux-augmented reality which encourages you to wander around with the phone thrust straight out in front of you. It’s not certain what effect this will have on your chances of getting a date.  All roads do lead to Rome, afterall.The greatest issue faced by Tonchidot is how to deal with the ever-changing world around us. As soon a someone has tagged a location with information (for example a favorite store), you can be assured that something will change. Most likely the shop will go out of business and be replaced by something else. When asked how they will deal with this, the response from Tonchidot was “We have a patent” to the delight of audience who erupted in laughter.Many have written with great doubt that the world envisioned by Tonchidot is just around the corner.  While Sekai Camera is boldly ambitious, the technology for realizing immersive real world interaction does exist and has been deployed in limited applications. The illusion is likely that the camera actually contributes little to the information displayed.Another company Earthmine founded in 2006, Berkeley, CA is delivering a platform upon which a product like Sekai Camera might be based.  The video below demonstrates one of two products from Earthmine called Flash Viewer API. A second API, DirectData API, from Earthmine provides the street-level imagery and 3D data required for a “virtual camera to the world.”    Earthmine APIs are available through a private beta and an application is available on their site for developers interested in testing the platform.Less fantastic than those of the web-centric and less mobile savvy audience at TC50 might believe, I’m with Tonchidot and will echo their reply to the judges who could not imagine such an application. “Join us!”