One of our favorite events from this year's CES was the Mobile Apps Showdown. Hosted by Howard Stern regulars Jon Hein and Gary Dell'Abate, this event gave ten app developers four minutes to pitch their app concept to the audience and conduct a quick on-stage demo. The top app was determined by an Applause-O-Meter winning a shiny trophy, the admiration of attendees and a landslide of CES media coverage. In a previous blog post (http://bit.ly/zJTZje), we discussed 'CIA: Operation AJAX'?, one of the top ten finalists. Today, we take a quick look at five finalists that inspired our imaginations.
Aurasma Lite by Aurasma
Developer's Description: Aurasma is a new technology that brings the physical and virtual worlds together. Available as a free app for iOS and Android devices or as a free SDK for developers, Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern recognition to recognize and understand real-world images and objects in much the same way as the human brain does. It then seamlessly blends the real-world with interactive content such as videos and animations we call 'Auras'?. Auras can be created for printed images, products, clothing and physical places. Users can even use the simple tools in the app to create and share their own Auras.
Since its launch in July 2011, Aurasma has had more than two million downloads. Over 1,000 partners around the world in markets including consumer electronics, retail, sport, automotive, entertainment, advertising and publishing are using the free technology. Aurasma was developed by and is part of Autonomy ' an HP Company.
Ellis' Take: This platform has HUGE upside. Augmented reality is something that to most is complex, confusing, and costly. This app empowers everyday users to tag and affect the digital world around them. Will it evolve into the next big digital platform or linger on as a simple novelty adopted and loved by a core group of hobbyists (like a new evolution of geocaching)?
Matt's Take: Interesting opportunity here for brands. While augmented reality is something a lot of brands are looking into, the price tag is usually a barrier for entry. Being able to utilize pre-existing technology to create branded information with your products is something that should be very enticing for most brands, especially in the retail space.
Magisto by Magisto
Developers Description: Magisto is an amazing app that takes your raw videos and turns it into a beautifully edited & produced clip perfect for sharing. And it does it all in a click, for free. Right now, all these special moments are too long and boring to share. With Magisto you can create videos that your friends actually want to watch and you can do it with minimum efforts and maximum quality.
Magisto will analyze these videos, understand it, find the best parts and make it look amazing! Now you have a way to express yourself and to capture those special moments that you want to share with the people around you.
Ellis' Take: Three easy, mindless steps to create a highlight reel from videos of my dog. Win.
Matt's Take: Really liked this at first, but upon further review, all videos need to stream from the site and you can't actually 'own them'?. Their plan is to move to a 'freemium'? model that gives you added capabilities for a price.
Cinefy by App Creation Network
Developers Description: Cinefy is a mobile video editing platform for iPhone where users create and share videos mixed with high quality special effects. Cinefy empowers users with no editing skills to quickly insert footage, add music and apply visually stunning effects with its intuitive and simple interface.
'As a former television director, this is a thrilling product to see in action'? said Gary Stover, Product Director.
In Cinefy, individual themed or branded effects packs are available for in-app downloads, offering TV and game studios the ability to market products in a way that creates exciting and massive viral exposure potential.
'We made Cinefy to put the most exciting Hollywood quality production tools directly in the user's hands,'? said Dan Hellerman, CEO of App Creation Network. 'The ability for studios to promote their brands, by empowering users with actual effects elements themed to their shows or games, is an explosive marketing tool.'?
Link: Website (http://bit.ly/w6dl86)
Ellis' Take: I don't know if this will make home videos better'?¦just different. For brands with user-generated content strategies in place, this could be a valuable tool that you may want to encourage consumers to consider. It could certainly raise the presentation of user-generated content, adding more value to those campaigns.
Matt's Take: Much like Magisto, I like the idea of being able to easily create better videos than the ones most people are uploading to Facebook now.
SecuraFone by SecuraTrac
Developer's Description: SecuraFone is a multi-purpose smartphone app that functions as a powerful, personal safety solution. SecuraFone helps prevent distracted driving and accidents, provides instant emergency response, and offers 6 other GPS tracking and alerting features including: real-time tracking, historical tracking, geo-fence alerts, SOS alerts, and covert, emergency help calls to emergency response centers or the primary account contact. The alerts are sent using email and text messaging. 45% of teen drivers text while driving and 11 die each day in accidents caused by distracted driving. 35% of seniors will fall each year ' the leading cause of injury-related deaths among seniors. Employers spend over $60 billion a year in medical costs, legal fees and property damage related to employee driving accidents. SecuraFone serves as a tool for instant communication in this type of emergency situation and as a proactive solution to prevent accidents and dangerous conditions before they occur.
Ellis' Take: It was interesting to hear the audience reaction to this app being presented. While many of the other apps received 'oohs'? and 'aahhs'?, this app had a strange impending sense of 'big brother'? to it ' especially when the developer referenced being able to track your employees locations in real time. You can imagine that at a conference held in Las Vegas, the response to that feature was rather lukewarm.
Matt's Take: Absolutely horrifying. I must download this immediately.
Foam Fighters by AppGear
Developers Description: AppGear is an innovative line of apps that seamlessly interact with cool, collectible toys, shifting digital gaming into your reality. Foam Fighters is a collectible line of detailed foam airplanes that really fly and look fantastic on their own. These foam fliers also unlock missions in the digital world by scanning them into a smart device. Once unlocked, these planes are attached to the front of the device with the included arm, then dive in to the digital world and battle for control of the skies. The plane is mounted on the front of the smart device, dog fighting and taking digital damage in the app. The real world plane is now flying in the digital battle for the skies.
This new product category will redefine game play by upgrading the physical experience with digital action.
Cost: App is free; Retail play set is $9.99
Link: Website (http://bit.ly/xG1g1r)
Ellis' Take: Is it wrong if I wish I was ten years old again? Or if society didn't have a stigma about adults playing with toys that they've outgrown by two decades? We're seeing augmented reality starting to enhance playtime, a trend that is very likely to continue as brands look for ways to connect real-world, physical play with digital extensions. Another great A/R example at CES was Intel's booth that featured a demo of LEGO's Intel-powered augmented reality retail display (http://bit.ly/ycmj3T).
Matt's Take: Meh. I understand they're trying to be creative mixing in the physical plane with the game, but it seems like the game could be just as successful without having to attach a foam plane to your tablet. It just seems like an unnecessary step.