Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hang with Adeo Ressi & Bitch About VCs, on March 10th is doing their first east coast event next month -- a cocktail party on March 10th at the MIT Media Lab.

What exactly will happen, once you've bought your $100 ticket? From the site:

    - Get to know fellow CEOs from various fields
    - Hear The Founding Member [that would be the no-longer-mysterious Adeo Ressi] discuss start-up strategies for 2009
    - Learn the current market perspective of an Award Winning VC
    - Explore cutting-edge MIT projects and technologies with the Professors
    - Socialize over food and drinks in a unique Boston-area venue

At least 25 people want to be there; early bird tix are sold out.

What kind of awards, I wonder, will this unnamed VC in Bullet Point #3 have won? Oscar? Grammy? People's Choice? Blue Ribbon from the Big E?

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Boston's Most Innovative Display Companies

Sunday's Globe column focused on three companies trying to bring new display technologies to market: Siftables, Vitality, and A2a Media.

Here's the video, with demos from Siftables and A2a, followed by my list of the five most innovative display companies right now in the Boston area (plus a few bonus companies).

So in addition to those three companies, each of which I think has some promise, here are the five most innovative display companies in the Boston area. How do I define innovative? Cool technology with the potential to change the world. Let me know who I missed in the comments section.

    1. E Ink: Low-power, paper-like digital displays for products like Amazon's Kindle and mobile phones.

    2. Ambient Devices: Putting Internet connected displays in unexpected places, like a refrigerator magnet or umbrella handle. Former Palm CEO Carl Yankowski was enlisted last summer to help Ambient make it big.

    3. Myvu: Will consumers wear Robocop-style glasses to watch video content from their iPod? Myvu's gonna find out.

    4. CircleTwelve: A one-man effort to commercialize the DiamondTouch table developed at Cambridge's Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs. Here's some earlier Innovation Economy coverage of CircleTwelve, and a comparison of DiamondTouch and Microsoft's Surface technology.

    5. QD Vision: Enlisting quantum dots to produce brighter displays that use less power. Here's a Technology Review article on the company.

And in the honorable mention category: Actuality Systems still sells its knock-out 3-D displays, but is repositioning itself as a medical imaging company. Emo Labs is a company built atop cool technology: integrating a display and speaker, so the audio actually comes out of the screen. But they've been having trouble gaining momentum, despite some funding from Polaris Venture Partners.

On the content side, three more companies are worthy of note.

FrameMedia is a neat Wellesley company thinking about how to deliver content to Internet-connected picture frames... and LocaModa and Aerva are both exploring ways to enliven flat-screen displays in public places with all kinds of interactive content.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Why Maeda Matters

Sunday's column in the Globe focused on John Maeda, a long-time Media Lab professor (and globally-renowned artist) who was picked in December to run the Rhode Island School of Design. Maeda is funny, thoughtful, wise and challenging -- the perfect personality for an artist pushing boundaries, and a professor nudging students in interesting new directions. He's also all over the Web in video form.

My Globe video is below...with more links after that.

Here's a talk he gave last year at TED.

Here's his video hello to the RISD community.

And here's Maeda in conversation with another young designer, Joshua Davis.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

John Maeda's new shoe is *fast*

How fast did John Maeda's limited-edition Reebok sneaker sell out? One hundred pairs went in just one day, priced at $150, according to the Media Lab prof and artist.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday's Globe column: Social Networking Goes to the Dogs

I'm traveling this week, so a bit slow to post the link to last Sunday's Globe column. It focuses on two Boston companies working on intelligent, wearable tags -- one for humans, and one for dogs.

From the piece:

    Entrepreneurs of every breed need to make a clean break with reality; their job is to imagine a product or service that doesn't yet exist and that fills a need none of us knew we had. Ideas that seem slightly crazy at first - Bluetooth headsets, anyone? - can become commonplace in just a few years. Or they end up as one more crazy concept that didn't fly.

    SNIF [Labs] is the second local start-up to introduce wearable tags for information exchange. Charlestown-based nTag Interactive has raised $14 million to market smart name tags that enable conference-goers to swap contact information, peruse the day's agenda, play ice-breaker games, or respond to a speaker's survey question.

    Both companies trace their genealogy to the MIT Media Lab. In 1995, the lab was organizing a party to mark the launch of a research initiative, called Things That Think. The objective was to explore what might happen when computers were embedded into all sorts of objects.

And here's the video ... a short conversation with SNIF Labs CEO Noah Paessel:

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Conference tech start-up nTAG grabs $8.3 million

nTAG started out as a cool demo at the MIT Media Lab -- intelligent nametags that could exchange information with one another. Researcher Rick Borovoy decided to turn the demo into a company.

Some of the earliest deployments were kind of sketchy; at PopTech in 2003, attendees seemed more interested in talking about what was wrong with the tags, which were supposed to help identify like-minded folks, than what was right with them.

But now nTAG has developed into more of a full-fledged "event technology" company, offering conference organizers technology for surveys, personalized agendas, and cell phone audience polling.

Today, the Boston-based company announced an $8.3 million second round of VC from Sevin Rosen and Pilot House Ventures. An earlier jolt of funding was $6 million last January, from the same funds. Company has raised a total of $23 million, according to VentureBeat.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

How iRobot is Like Intel

TIE-Boston put on a really interesting event last night at the MIT Museum: "Mobile and Sociable Robots: At the Leading Edge of Computing."

Cory Kidd from the Media Lab was there, demoing his robotic weight loss coach, which he's hoping to commercialize once he leaves the Lab. I talked with the CTO of Bluefin Robotics, Christopher Wallsmith, about some of their new underwater 'bots that can glide for long periods of time, or hover in place. (Hiawatha wrote a great piece in the Globe earlier this month that included Bluefin.)

But the thing that struck me as most interesting was Helen Greiner's opening talk. (Helen is the co-founder and chairman of iRobot.) Two things struck me, actually.

First was how authentically iRobot has been living up to its mission statement: Build cool stuff, Deliver great product, Make money, and Have fun. They've shipped 2.5 million of their Roomba robotic vaccuum cleaners thus far.

The second thing was that iRobot is the closest thing Boston has to a Google, an Apple, or an Intel: a company that is so clearly the leader in its field that all the best people want to work there (aside from those who're happier in academia). Helen said iRobot now employs about 200 engineers and researchers. These kinds of "magnet" companies not only attract great people, they also make it clear that the region is a center of gravity for their particular industry -- and they start spinning off start-up companies. Q Robotics, one of the other companies on last night's panel, is just such a spin-off. Q CTO Joe Jones was one of the developers of iRobot's Roomba.

That's pretty cool.

(Photo by Jason Grow / Business Week. Chris Brady took some great photos at tonight's event.)

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