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Wrap-Up: Demo Conference's Gee-Whiz Tech Included Plenty For Businesses

Wireless stole the show, and the consumer-tech influence was everywhere.

Pigs flew last week at the Demo 07 conference, a showcase for new software and gadgets. Bluetooth-enabled pigs, no less.

The plastic pigs' wings were triggered by a wireless device, using new interoperability software from DartDevices designed to let devices with different operating systems--say, the Hewlett-Packard iPaq Phone and a Mac--communicate, interoperate, and synchronize. The trick is a virtualization layer, the DartPlayer, that obviates the need for specific drivers.

Storage: A pocket hard drive for the suitcase

Storage: A pocket hard drive for the suitcase
Mobile devices and software were the highlight of the conference, which straddles consumer gadgetry and hard-core business software--though that line's increasingly hard to draw, as the show proved. The shower of products can give IT managers ideas for new tools to offer--or warnings about what employees might start bringing to work.

Many new products were like the one from Inilex: The GPS-based car anti-theft system feels significant, but there's no telling whether this company will succeed with it, though something like it will. Inilex's Kepler Advantage is a hardware-based system--allegedly a 20-minute install--that reports car location information to the user's mobile phone or PC. The potential killer app: teen tracking, so protective parents receive a text message when their progeny stray to the wrong side of the tracks.

Others had much more immediate business appeal, like Seagate Technology's Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled pocket hard drive for mobile phones, called Dave. "There simply isn't enough storage on my mobile phone to carry the business files that I need with me," says Rob Pait, consumer marketing director for Seagate. "What we really need today is storage without wires."

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And apparently, we need music-backed voice memos that can be sent to mobile phone users (Buzz Interactive's, voice and text messages that can be sent to groups from any phone (Brevient Technologies', and the ability to send and receive video ring tones (Vringo's

Among the mobile phone-related announcements, Mobio Network's mobile mashup applications stood out. The company is offering small programs for mobile phones that combine Web services such as restaurant reservations and online maps for easy use on mobile devices. Perhaps even more so than storage, what mobile users really need are easy-to-use e-commerce applications.

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