Plug and Play went big at this year’s 2013 GMICmobile conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Center this week, bringing along 8 hot mobile startups, a truck load of swag, and their shiny new journalist intern David Calbert (me).
The theme of the conference was “Everywhere-Everything-Everyone-Connected”. Though connected technology was a major theme at this year’s event, it wasn’t the only mobile hotspot on everybody’s radar. Amidst the energy and chaos of 10,000 entrepreneurs, techies, and passion-fueled pitches, we extracted the following major trends in Mobile.
1. We need privacy and security solutions more than ever
In the wake of the revelation that the NSA was spying on us, privacy and security became a big area of interest in the tech world. One of the speakers at GMIC was Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, the founder of VK and Telegram. VK is the second largest social network in Europe, after Facebook. Durov himself has famously entered the conversation about privacy when he offered Edward Snowden a job after he defected to Russia. Durov claims that the difference between the infringement of privacy in Russia and America, is that the Russian government is very transparent about the fact that they are tapping phones, while American leans more towards hypocrisy, spying under the table while they claim to hold digital privacy sacred. In his talk at GMIC, Pavel posed a challenge to the IT community to create the technological solutions that would maintain our digital privacy..
It just so happens we have two startups in Plug and Play who are working on this solution – Bitzer Mobile and Collavate. Bitzer, founded in 2010, uses container technology to manage and protect corporate data. They understand the reality of the relationship between enterprise and an increasingly mobile individual, and how to make that relationship a safer one for private data. This year was their first time at the conference.
“The most exciting thing about being at the conference is all the exposure we get.” An HR rep for Bitzer said.
Collavate, a Netkiller product, is a cloud-based solution to securing important documents and data within the Google Drive platform. The name of the product is a combination of “collaboration” and “innovation”.
Collavate analogizes cloud technology to the advent of the ATM machine. When the first ATMs rolled out they raised large security concerns. ‘You mean you’re just going to leave a giant box of endless money on the street 24/7?’ An image of John Conner in the second Terminator movie hacking an ATM machine with a false credit card comes to mind. (add a picture of john connor and make sure you credit the picture)
Those concerned about cloud security have far more to worry about; the cloud doesn’t just hold money, it holds all of your personal information, from a person’s medical history to all of their activities online. The cloud is connected to your bank, your doctor, your work, you personal activities, your social circles, your family…and on and on.
As long as the risk of data breach exists, there will be a market for cloud and mobile security solutions.
2. Software developers continue to think up new ways to help people meet.
Akira Morikawa was at the Thought Leader stage to talk about mobile communication. Morikawa is the CEO of Japan based Line (LINK TO THIS), the number 1 mobile messaging app. Not surprisingly, Morikawa believes innovations in mobile messaging will continue to change the way we interact as people. Let’s take a look at how:
The startup Trintme, which launched three days ago, was at the GMIC Expo to join in the conversation about how mobile technology was reshaping human interaction. Like the now famous dating apps Tinder and BangWithFriends (link), the app allows you to privately connect with friends of friends via Facebook and attempt to make a real life connection with them. Unlike Tinder and BangWithFriends, Trintme is all about, as the name evokes, true intentions. It’s a departure from the more sexually focused, hook up apps.
“We’re not about that.” Michael Lange, Marketing Manager for Trintme said. “We’re about taking the next step with a particular individual, someone you meet at a coffeeshop or a bar.”
The app allows you to anonymously contact another user of the app, only revealing what Facebook friends you have in common. It becomes a game of Clue combined with social media. While the criteria of having at least one Facebook friend in common might seem limiting, it actually reveals just how small the world has become, especially on college campuses.
“According to a new study, it used to be that there was six degrees of separation, but now with Facebook it’s 3.9 degrees of separation.” Michael said.
The goal of this app seems to be genuinely aimed towards friendships and real human relationships, put together by a team that is really passionate about connecting people in meaningful ways. It addresses the increasing detachment in the current generation and tries to provide a way back to true human interaction.
“I think a perfect example is my younger brother,” Michael said, “He’s constantly on his phone texting, using dating apps. It’s way more impersonal. I think moving forward apps like this will help us come full circle.”
It’s social rehab for people who have grown up in an impersonal generation.
Another company that is trying to make virtual communication easier is Bistri. It’s a free video conferencing program attempting to simplify the process of making a video call. Once you register Bistri sends you a link and you can start video conferencing in the browser. The company was started in Paris three years ago and this was their first time at GMIC.
3. Humans and machines are getting closer and closer
The relationship between man and machine has always been complicated and predicting the future of that relationship is incredibly difficult. Ed Fries, the co-creator of X-Box took to the stage to talk about the creation of the famous gaming system, and to speculate about the future of human-machine interface. Cranial sensors and mind control definitely came up.
The company Muzzley believes that it already knows the future of technology interfaces, and is trying to bring it to fruition sooner. Muzzley is a middleware in the cloud that focuses on the interaction between the human and the machine, offering virtual interfaces for the smartphone like a gamepad, keyboard, drawpad, or sensors. The idea came about a year and a half ago as an answer to the problem of software integration with mobile devices.
Every startup is incredibly different, spanning many different industries and trying to solve innumerable problems in creative ways. But they do all share one thing, and that’s the hard work and tough decision making that gets them to places like GMIC. Eduardo touched on this saying, “Every decision is hard when it impacts the future.”
The pay off for those hard decisions is big; Muzzley has a vision of smart homes, smart cities, connected cars, connected people with Muzzley interface as the layer of vertical communication.
4. There’s still room for one more online shopping engine
One of the more simple, but nonetheless important problems that Plug and Play startup Zoomvy is trying to solve is the perils of online shopping. It’s a highly efficient shopping search engine that not only remembers what you searched for, but continues searching and comparing prices of different products while you’re gone. It’s a sentient search engine that acts as a digital bargain hunter. But the most important thing about Zoomvy is that it’s a democratic search engine; products can’t pay to be top search result like in Google. It’s based solely on the relevancy to what you’re searching for. Basically, it’s a search engine with integrity, as well as intelligence. The idea came about when one of the founders got fed up while trying to shop online and not being able to keep track of products and prices.
To learn more about Plug and Play innovation, our startups, our corporate programs, or our international bridges to Silicon Valley, contact Andrew@plugandplaytechcenter.com or visit our website at www.plugandplaytechcenter.com
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