Wednesday, September 15, 2010

mass innovation night -- number 18

Charles River view

This month's Mass Innovation Night was held at Microsoft NERD on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. I've been to other events there, but the view of Boston still impresses me every time. Great choice of venue. I'm glad I got there early because it gave me plenty of time to engage with the folks doing the tabletop demos before things got really crowded.

the team

The folks from LogMeIn not only had a cool tool for collaboration,, but also had the best T-shirts and the best SWAG. is the simplest screen-sharing tool I've ever seen. It beats the pants off WebEx and GotoMeeting for the kind of impromptu collaboration I need to do as a freelance tech writer just needing a quick look at a developer's screen. It also looks like it could work for supporting my Mom's computer remotely. Save on the drives to Waltham on 128 :-) I also got a chance to meet up with a former colleague who now works at LogMeIn. Not only all of that, but they gave me a cool coffee cup too.

The folks from Neuron Robotics had a cool tabletop demo of their DyIO module mounted on a hex bug and controlled with the arrow keys on a net book. They really take the task of programming your robot up to a new level of abstraction and simplicity. I was having brainstorms all over the place about things I could finally make a robot do. Entertainingly enough, their presentation brought back warm memories of The Jetsons.

Arno demoing TrustedOnes

I watched the Neuron Robotics tabletop demo with Arno Grbac of TrustedOnes, another one of the four chosen presenters. I love his idea of making better decisions using online "crowd sourcing" but from people you know and trust -- better than Yelp or the Tips tab on Foursquare. I'd rather base my decisions about hotels or coffee shops in the city I'm about to visit on recommendations from my friends in RL (real life) than on recommendations of strangers whose tastes and preferences I don't know. I've downloaded the app to my iPod Touch. I foresee a future blog entry about my experiences with it.

It's hard to pick the coolest product from among the wonderful innovations presented at Mass Innovation Night, but the one I definitely came away wanting to own was Vizit from Isabella Products. They've come up with a digital picture frame that does things I've been wishing such a device would do for years. You can share photos with anyone from anywhere over the mobile network. Picture it, my far flung family members can send photos from their camera phones, their computers, or online photo sites right to Vizit. Imagine the twins in Dubai at their first day of "big girl school" instantly framed on their grandma's dining room table in Waltham! My family needs this for sure.

It was another great night with lots of new ideas and new connections. The extra added bonus of time catching up with my former colleague made it even better. Connection and innovation just rock!

changing light over the Charles