Coolest Mobile Tech Companies to Check Out at SXSW
The numbers tell the story: by the end of 2012, the mobile market had ballooned to a staggering $19 billion marketplace. In 2008, it was a paltry $0.7 billion.
The thesis is obvious here ("mobile is important!"), but what's less obvious (and patently cooler) is the innovation happening on the front lines of mobile development, right now. Whether you use a iOS or Android, your mobile device is becoming your remote control for the world, and as you might have guessed, plenty of that cool mobile innovation will be on display--and definitely in use--in Austin this March. Here's are a few technologies by innovative companies we have our eyes on.
1. Fleksy, a better touch-screen keyboard
The founders of Syntellia are inspired by the "application of artificial intelligence in everyday technology." Their first product, Fleksy, is a new type of touch-screen keyboard. If you've ever been frustrated by typos or auto-(in)corrects, Fleksy provides a refreshing new take on typing with an appealing user-experience. They also claim that Fleksy's predictive text algorithm is so good that even if you've missed every single key, Fleksy will determine the word you're looking for. Founded in 2011 by Kostas Eleftheriou and Ioannis Verdelis, Syntellia has raised $900k in angel investment from a coterie of investors, including from Fortify.vc.
2. Desti, a new type of travel search engine
Think Pinterest meets TripAdvisor--Desti helps people plan trips easier. Within the app, users can search a destination--say, Monterey Bay. Desti then pulls up local hotels and attractions, and lets users sort by a variety of categories, like whether or not an activity is kid-friendly or "romantic." This is Desti's main value over its competitors, which typically only let users search by one or two criteria--and then save collections. "Our mission is to make travel planning as fun and painless as possible," the company notes. The company was founded in Menlo Park, California, in 2011 by Imri Goldberg and Nadav Gur, and has raised nearly $2 million in seed funding from Horizons Ventures.
3. Younity, a "device unification" application
Younity makes a great promise for anyone who's ever been frustrated by the phone/tablet/laptop/desktop juggle: "All your files, on all your devices, all the time. Without the syncing." With Younity, users can access everything from music files to Excel documents, all from your iPhone. Users must first download the app onto each platform they want to be streamed, and from there, Younity automatically begins streaming data. The core value of the app is the ability to literally search everything you've ever accessed or saved from one device--and even better, it's all stored on a personal, private cloud. Younity is a product of Entangled Media, a start-up founded in 2010 by Erik Caso and Mike Abraham.
4. OneTok, a platform for developers to add voice control
Why type when you can speak? If Siri opened the world to the idea that search could be voice based, OneTok gives developers the ability to integrate voice controls into any app they build, using the company's patented voice integration technology. Consider OneTok's own case study, High Street Bank: "When the user says, for example, 'Where is the nearest ATM?' the app returns a map of the user's location with the nearest ATMs clearly marked." OneTok was founded in 2011 by Ben Lilienthal and Jerry Norton, two "Voice over IP" industry leaders, and have raised about $1.5 million in seed investment from family and friends.
5. PAR Works, augmented reality on your phone
Your smartphone's camera is more than just a camera--it's a powerful tool that can recognize the data in front of it. PAR--or Precision Augmented Reality works--takes advantage of data overlays to provide some pretty stunning information for advertisers, real-estate brokers, and consumers alike. Unlike typical data-overlay technology, which uses a phone's location to orient the overlay, PAR works has a nifty little trick--with each overlay, there are, essentially, links to more information within the app. This technology also has brilliant possibilities for the world of advertising and branding--in that it can recognize labels, signs, and products without help from a QR or bar code. PAR's technology was developed by Dr. Jules White, Dr. Mani Golparvar-Fard, and Hyojoon Bae at Virginia Tech.