Friday, January 14, 2011

Mass Innovation Night #MIN22

Massachusetts innovators are flexible, an important quality both for innovation and for handling New England weather. Giant snow storm on Wednesday? Reschedule to Thursday. A few tweaks here or there, and presto another excellent Mass Innovation Night.

Mass Inno at IBM Waltham

The turnout was pretty good despite the rescheduling. The Experts Corner was packed and lively.

Experts in the Experts Corner

Activity in the Experts Corner
The four presenters were:
PointKnown -- Mapping buildings digitally for energy modeling, retrofits and reuse
ScreenRetriever -- Software for parents to see what their children are doing online
WaySavvy -- Simplified travel booking cuts through the screens and screens of data and gives you options for cheapest, biggest bang for the buck, and swankiest
Grembe Apps -- Apps to create pictures, flashcards, storyboards, routines, and visual schedules for kids with special needs

I made sure to check out each of those and as many others as I could in the demo areas. Besides the four presenters I managed to check out  Memory on Hand, Job Tac Toe, bubulu labs, and say hi to LockerNotes  (met him at the last MIN).

Talking with the PointKnown guys was fun. One of my brothers used to do HVAC in old buildings undergoing renovation and I could immediately see how PointKnown's laser to Building Information Modeling tool would speed up that kind of work.

Memory on Hand
Memory on Hand's cool-looking USB flash storage wristbands made a colorful statement and solve a practical problem.  You never know when you need a few gig of storage and it sure helps to have it right on hand, er, on wrist, when you need it and make a fashion statement at the same time. Sure beats those keychain flash drives.  The nieces (well, the college age Boston & NY ones, not the pre-school Dubai ones) can look forward to gifts of storage soon. :-) :-) Andrew generously gave me a 2-gig one to try out and review. Stay tuned to this space for a review soon.

Job Tac Toe has a unique approach to job hunting, turning it into a game, giving the hunter status and support. Caroline gave an enthusiastic pitch and I enjoyed our conversation about the job hunting process and about status in hunter gatherer societies.  Looks like a great way to fight the depression, boredom, and discouragement that can creep in to the job hunt.

Job Tac Toe

WaySavvy cuts through the information overload involved in online travel booking. I love that it sorts the results into cheapest, best bang for the buck, and swankiest so I can just click on a tab for the type of trip I want and book it right away and all at once. And he was handing out cookies!


ScreenRetriever looks like a great tool for parents, watching what the kids do online instead of just trying to block stuff.  The kids know you're watching so it provides a good opportunity for parent/teen discussion on why some things are inappropriate.

Grembe Apps impressed me with visual communication tools for kids with special needs. I can see why it's taking off among folks with autistic kids. I can actually see applications for it beyond helping non-verbal kids. Some aspects of their apps would make a good storyboarding tool for tech writers developing procedures for assembly, installation, and repair.  Must mull that over a little.

Grembe Apps

The Crowd Listens
Had some good networking chats with Uma from bubulu labs and Andrew from Ciclismo Classico (maybe I will finally get to that European bike tour I've always wanted to do).  And Mass Innovation Night would not be complete without running into a former co-worker. Shout-out to Matt Rushton of

Kudos to Bobbie Carlton for another great event despite the weather-induced obstacles. Thanks to IBM Waltham for hosting.

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