Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 44

Edmonton’s 44th DemoCamp took place on Tuesday night at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus. It was the first DemoCamp of 2019. You can see my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 43 here.

DemoCamp Edmonton 44

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

Here’s my Twitter thread for the event. We had six demos, in order of appearance:

CleanNow is aiming to be the Uber for house cleaning. They launched in early December and now have more than 400 active customers over the last 30 days. CleanNow is trying to solve the problem of finding a reliable house cleaner, so they demoed some of the features that support that. The backend is written in Code Igniter and they have a PHP API. Payments are done in-app with Stripe. CleanNow is launching next in Calgary, hopefully in March.

The World’s Opinion, or two for short, was inspired by election polls and how inaccurate they can be. “Everyone has a phone so why can’t we get a sense of what people are thinking?” Noah said. The app is currently iOS only (built in Swift from scratch) and allows users to vote on questions by swiping left or right, to ignore or skip questions by swiping up, and to save a question for later by swiping down. The question editor looks like the Instagram story interface and allows for thumbs up/down or two-choice questions. Everyone can see the breakdown of responses for a question, including some basic demographics like gender. The backend uses Google Firebase, and Noah said he’ll probably do an Android version at some point.

Sparkshot is an art discovery platform with a twist. Artists create artwork, upload it to the site, and behind the scenes Sparkshot will cover it in black pixels. Users can then purchase pixels (using Bitcoin micropayments) to reveal the art over time (price per pixel is set by the artist). Each piece looks a bit like a jigsaw puzzle until it is fully revealed. Once finally revealed, anyone can see and share the png file as well as all of the messages the buyers posted along the way. Because it uses Bitcoin, there’s no need to know who is buying the pixels, so there’s no account to create. Jarret and Dean demoed Forkdrop.io at DemoCamp Edmonton 42, another Bitcoin-related project.

I remember participating in hackathons and it seemed like an achievement to get the entire team setup in source control and have a simple website built. How things have changed! Eric and Mark showed us their hackathon project, which is a gesture controlled robotic arm. They built a wristband with eight pressure sensors to measure muscle movement that sends data to an Arduino micrcontroller and on to a computer with a classifier to convert the muscle movement into four different motions for the robotic arm. They told us they currently measure 200 data points for each position. In the future they’d like to make the wristband wireless and they also talked about prototyping their own microcontroller boards to speed up signal processing. Amazing.

Next up was RevonTech with Animus, which is a small device that can power a string of up to 150 LEDs in sync with music. They 3D printed the case and designed the board themselves to ensure that power consumption was kept to a minimum (it can run continuously for over 6 hours). Animus can control the lights based on frequency and also does some beat detection. Using the mobile app, users can choose from a collection of patterns. Patrick told us they wanted it to be a plug-and-play kind of device, for people who don’t know all the tech, but want to take advantage of it at a concert. We also learned the hardware supports far more than they have been able to implement in software thus far. Animus is about to launch in beta!

The final demo of the night was VSS-30, which Matthew explained is an attempt to emulate those electronic keyboards you probably played with as a kid. He modeled the keyboard in Blender and it took about 15 hours. VSS-30 runs entirely in the browser using WebGL and features all the effects, synthesizers, and recording that you could hope for. “Is there a way to save your creations out of this?” someone asked. “Absolutely not!” was the response. Matthew said it’s about recreating the toy experience. “Go in, making something cool, and then let go of it.”

I really enjoyed all of the demos! It was my favorite kind of DemoCamp: a nice mix of software and hardware.

DemoCamp Edmonton 44

Here are the events and other announcements that were mentioned in-between demos:

  • Student DevCon is coming up on March 23, 2019 at the Edmonton Convention Centre. Tickets are just $35 and include all sessions, swag, breakfast, and lunch.
  • Business Model 101 is Startup Edmonton’s most popular workshop. It is running twice per month for the next few months, and new for 2019, you can attend in Riverbend or Meadows, so you don’t need to travel downtown.
  • There are plenty of upcoming community meetups listed at the Startup Edmonton meetup site.
  • DemoCamp Edmonton 45 is scheduled to take place on March 12, 2019.

You can also check out the Tech Roundup for the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s technology community every Tuesday. Here’s the latest edition.

If you’ve got something to show, apply to demo at a future event.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 45!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 43

Edmonton’s 43rd DemoCamp took place last night at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus. It was the final DemoCamp of 2018. You can see my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 42 here.

DemoCamp Edmonton 43

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

Here’s my Twitter thread for the event. We had six demos, in order of appearance:

Xpertz is a Slack app catered toward large teams that lets you showcase your skillset right within Slack. Everything is done using slash commands, and the flagship features include “search by expertise” (so you can find the Android developers in your company, for instance) and “high-five” (which is a way to validate someone’s expertise). Xpertz reminds me a little of the skills on LinkedIn that you can give and receive, but within Slack, and with emoji. Brandon is working on a dashboard with analytics next.

Alex, a NAIT student, showed us Digiplay which lets you play PC games right in the browser. He explained that the high cost associated with PC games combined with the new capabilities of WebAssembly make it possible to play games like Tomb Raider and Quake right inside the browser. Currently desktop-only, Alex would like to add mobile in the future, and is looking at licensing games from smaller studios. He’s also got some original games like Foxtrot, which he demoed. The gaming industry seems to be betting on streaming, but Alex thinks the lag and latency associated with that will ultimately prevent it from working effectively. Next up for Digiplay is a custom compiled interface which would add controller support, and taking advantage of streaming compliation once the browsers support it, which would enable larger games.

I love a good hardware demo and OmniVelos delivered. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” joked Nick! OmniVelos is a bit of hardware you add to an ordinary bicycle to turn it into an electric bike. The hardware is light and doesn’t interfere with the normal riding of the bicycle. The battery has a range of 20 km, depending on how fast you accelerate, and it can easily be removed and recharged. They’re looking at incorporating regenerative braking in the future. “Do you have any idea about pricing?” asked someone in the audience. “It’s DemoCamp,” responded Jay, to laughter from the audience. (At DemoCamp if you ask someone about their business model you owe them a beer.)

Next up we had two demos from the University of Alberta CompE Club’s HackED Beta hackathon, which took place recently.

The first team, made up of five high school students, showed us Habit Creator, which is a fun web app for reinforcing your habits. As you complete habits you earn rewards that allow your environment to level-up, represented visually as a picture of nature (so as you level up, flowers and other foliage appears). The team had to learn everything in 24 hours! Habit Creator includes a progress report to show a day-by-day breakdown, but currently uses browser storage.

The second team showed us Guba Rush which is an interactive, motion-sensing game featuring the University of Alberta team mascot. One of the team members wore a vest and fanny pack that contained accelerometers, gyros, and an Arduino. As he moved, the data was transmitted to the game to control the character on-screen. The idea is to physically move in order to dodge or jump over obstacles on the screen. Think of it like a Kinect, but with a vest you have to wear.

DemoCamp Edmonton 43

The final demo of the night was from Dan who showed us HonestDoor. He realized when buying real estate that greater transparency would be helpful, so he started tinkering with HonestDoor and realized others found it useful too. The web app can show you the last sold date and price for a given property, and in some cases can also provide an analysis of what HonestDoor thinks it might be worth. The data comes from third parties, including land titles, but was fairly incomplete in the demo. There’s clearly demand for this type of app, given the popularity of Zillow south of the border.

Here are the events and other announcements that were mentioned in-between demos:

You can also check out the Tech Roundup for the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s technology community every Tuesday. Here’s the latest edition.

If you’ve got something to show, apply to demo at a future event.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 44!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 42

Edmonton’s 42nd DemoCamp took place last night at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus. You can see my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 41 here.

DemoCamp Edmonton 42

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

Here’s my Twitter thread for the event. We had six demos, in order of appearance:

The first demo of the evening was from the team at Gabbi. Sherman and Bryan showed us the app which helps real estate agents organize their messages and collaborate with their team. Like the rest of us, real estate agents are always on their phones and Gabbi can help them respond to messages, transfer conversations between agents, and more. Building on top of that foundation is an AI assistant, to “get the agents to the next level.” Gabbi uses Microsoft’s LUIS behind-the-scenes for understanding intent. Essentially, they’re building an AI-assisted CRM for real estate agents. Neat!

Next up was Permit Tool, which is a Microsoft Power BI-based data crunching tool that can help you visualize and understand development permits in the City of Edmonton. Brandon wanted to build the tool to help him apply for a job in the commercial real estate industry, and once he found the data available in the Open Data Catalogue, he was off and running. “There’s so much interesting information that we didn’t even know existed!” During the demo, Brandon used the tool to filter for people that had applied for permits to build hot tubs. “Go make friends with these people,” he joked. In addition to being a useful tool, his approach worked: he got the job!

Our third demo was from the team at What’s The Deal?, a web app that tells you about happy hour deals nearby. The site lets you view deals by day, or you can use the search feature to filter by characteristics like whether or not there’s a patio or free Wi-Fi. The website is built on WordPress but is really more of a proof-of-concept; they’re planning to launch a native mobile application next month. Currently the team manually curates all the data, but they hope to have restaurants take on that role themselves in the future.

Next up was Brendan who shared yegsecrets.ca. He got the idea for the site after participating in a Reddit discussion about the hidden gems in our city. “It really bugs me when people say Edmonton is boring or ugly or Deadmonton!” The site is basically a big map full of pins that represent interesting locations. You can click on a pin to see a brief description and photos of the location. There are no plans to add businesses to the site, because there’s already a lot of places to find those. The idea is to showcase great views, inspiring art, that sort of thing. Brendan, who took part in Startup Edmonton’s Summer Student Program, has seeded the locations based on input from others, and there is a suggest feature if you know of a hidden gem.

DemoCamp Edmonton 42

Our fifth demo was from Dean who showed off Forkdrop.io, which is an information and educational resource for Bitcoin holders. And specifically, forks or projects that give value to holders of Bitcoin in the form of newly created coins. The site contains a giant table with the latest information on all of the different projects, but also features in-depth guides for people to follow. Since launching the site has attracted about 28,000 users and has received a bunch of press in the Bitcoin industry. It’s all open source too.

The final demo of the evening was from Dana who showed us Tadum.app, a new app that helps you have more effective meetings. The name “Tadum” works two ways: it sounds like the noise a to-do list might make when you complete a task, and it’s an acronym for the key features of the app: To-Dos, Actions, Discussions, Updates, and Metrics. Dana said his experience has shown that the best meetings follow a routine, have a structure, and have forced accountability, so those are all aspects of the way Tadum works. It will work best if you buy into the process. Dana and the team have focused on ensuring the agenda experience is great, but have plans to add integrations in the future.

All of the demos went fairly smoothly! As an Edmonton fan myself, I love the spirit of yegsecrets.ca, and as someone who has had my share of bad meetings, I’m intrigued by what Tadum offers. And yes, I’m always interested to see how others are using open data, so I found Permit Tool pretty cool as well.

Here are the events and other announcements that were mentioned in-between demos:

  • You can now pre-order Nathan Youngman’s new book, Get Programming with Go. He had a couple of signed copies to show off last night. Congratulations Nathan!
  • Preflight is Startup Edmonton’s flagship program and it helps entrepreneurs “reach a global market, harness your ambition, and structure your business to grow right from the start.” New sessions are starting in October and November.
  • Edmonton Startup Week takes place October 15-19. Launch Party Edmonton 9 will take place on October 18.
  • If you’re a student, be sure to check out the free Student Membership from Startup Edmonton.
  • Save the date for the Student Development Conference, taking place March 23, 2019 at the Shaw Conference Centre.
  • There are plenty of other upcoming community meetups listed at the Startup Edmonton meetup site.

You can also check out the Tech Roundup for the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s technology community every Tuesday. Here’s the latest edition.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 43!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 41

Edmonton’s 41st DemoCamp took place last night at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus. You can see my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 41 here.

Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

It was one of the quickest DemoCamps in recent memory – I guess everyone wanted to get to drinks! We had five demos, in order of appearance:

Paulie Blart is a Raspberry Pi-based robot that was built for the SF Hacks hackathon in just 24 hours – and it won! The robot uses IBM’s Watson services to do facial recognition and when an intruder is detected, it can send you a text that includes a picture of the intruder. The robot can also be controlled by sending it a “start” or “stop” text message. Cool stuff! In his post about the win, Megnath wrote: “A special thanks to the talented and vibrant Edmonton tech community (Startup Edmonton, UofA CompE Club, etc) for organizing local hackathons and encouraging students like me to aim bigger.”

The Bylaw Infraction Dashboard uses open data from the City of Edmonton’s open data catalogue to visualize bylaw infractions. The dashboard includes a number of visualizations and they’re connected – so you can slice and dice the data by clicking on one visualization and seeing the rest update. It reminds me a lot of the way that Power BI can work. I enjoyed Michael’s story about seeing other data visualizations and getting inspired to build his own. Whether he realized it or not, his demo was a good commercial for the open data catalogue too!

Go With the Flow is a fun project that controls an LED light strip based on the audio coming from your computer. Each LED represents a single frequency, so as the sound changes, the lights get brighter or dimmer, and the color changes. Curtis demoed it with some music and also the Avengers Infinity War trailer. Always fun when we get to turn the lights down at DemoCamp.

DemoCamp Edmonton 41

IdyaFlow is software for peer-to-peer marketplaces. It’s not another place to list your couch for rent, but it can help you build the site on which you might do that. If you have a community of buyers and suppliers, then IdyaFlow can provide the technology to help you connect them. It has a focus on real-time messaging to help facilitate those community interactions. At first I was wondering if there’s actually a market for this, but when you think about it, there are hundreds of “Uber for X” type businesses, and they all have more or less the same technical requirements/features. So building a generic backend that can service them all just might work.

I think Rewardful has a lot of potential, and I am eager to see how it evolves. The service provides “a simple way for SaaS companies to setup affiliate and referral programs with Stripe.” Currently it supports a commission-based approach, but there are plans to add other possibilities like extending an existing subscription or flat referral fees. There are some companies in this space already, but if Rewardful can keep it simple and developer-friendly (like Stripe itself) I think there’s plenty of opportunity.

I always enjoy when there are a mix of hardware and software demos, and also experiments or “for fun” projects vs. actual businesses.

Here are some upcoming events to note that were mentioned in-between demos:

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 42 in September!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 40

Edmonton’s 40th DemoCamp took place at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus on Wednesday, March 14. The event marked 10 years since Edmonton’s first DemoCamp which took place back on March 26, 2008. Here’s what I wrote in my recap of that event:

I counted about sixty people at one point, with some standing along the back walls.
It’s great to see the community growing like this in Edmonton, and I have no doubt that the next DemoCamp will be even better!

To celebrate ten years of DemoCamp, the 40th edition included some demos from past years, for a sort of “where are they now”-style demo. There was also a nice round of applause for Cam Linke, who started DemoCamp here in Edmonton despite others saying it would never succeed.

DemoCamp Edmonton 40

In order of appearance, the demos were:

BritBot, a follow-up to Kory’s previous demo on the improv robot at DemoCamp Edmonton 34, is a new project in conjunction with an art project from the UK focused on Brexit and what it means to be British. With a microphone attached, you fire up BritBot to answer a series of questions. It went a bit crazy during the demo, but we got the idea. The bot tracks user engagement, what the user is saying, and both how complex the answers are and how well they match the questions. To ask new questions, the bot is simultaneously searching a series of neural networks. There are 34 topics and 900 questions. BitBot tracks offensive speech and hate speech, “because people start insulting these things relentlessly,” Kory said. Cool stuff!

Gotta Style is a mobile-first CRM for the hair salon industry. They’re trying to tackle the problem of under-utilization, where the salon is full of empty chairs. Customers with the app can browse styles, see available salons that are on the platform, and can choose a stylist and book an appointment. As a stylist, they can accept and manage bookings, take photos of the haircut so both have a “hair fashion file” of the styles you’ve got, plus add notes for future bookings. They noted they could expand in the future to nail salons, etc. The app also supports social media publishing, if the client approves it, which is something I’ve noticed is pretty popular on Instagram.

Drivewyze, which first demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 28, does a pre-screening mobile app for long-haul trucking, similar to Nexus. They describe themselves as “the nation’s largest weigh station bypass service” (meaning the United States, they’re active in all but 5 of them). There are about 200,000 vehicles on the road right now that the system handles. They moved their backend to Amazon AWS last year, so their demo showed off the behind-the-scenes and all of the intelligence and automation they’ve built around it. Sean noted they have gone from “hope and pray” to “know and be proactive” over the last two years with all the changes. It was pretty cool to see!

Yardly offers an online service for lawn care and snow removal services. There’s an admin app, a provider app, and a customer app. Yardly can be used for one-time service, or also longer-term or recurring service. They showed off the MVP which looked pretty polished. The service enforces a bit of a workflow – for instance, providers need to take before & after photos with the app. They don’t have any plans to do “inside the house” services, they are focused on outside the house, and want to make sure they get that right.

DemoCamp Edmonton 40

Elsi was up next. Jerry showed off his approach to make managing passwords easier. No sensitive information is stored on your phone, instead there’s a little card-like device that you use that communicates with your phone or other computers via NFC. It uses a patent pending system that “relies on user intention”. Think of it like a security badge that you’d use to access different parts of a building. The purpose of the card is really the fear of having something like your phone with all your passwords connected to the Internet, Bluetooth, etc. I can see the appeal for a subset of people, and it did look really easy-to-use.

ScopeAR, which first demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 34, was back to show off WorkLink, a tool for building step-by-step instructions or training using the company’s augmented reality platform. The result can then be published and consumed on a device like an iPad (they support iOS, Android, and Windows 10). You can of course use a head-mounted display like a HoloLens, but it also works on a tablet (just not as well). Turning a paper manual into a digital manual can take something like 3 minutes per step, depending on how fancy you want to get. They’re focused on B2B right now and have some big customers, like Caterpillar and Boeing!

Frettable was up next, to show off automatic music transcription. Greg started working on it at a hack day at Startup Edmonton! He promised “one minute of talk, six minutes of rock” and performed a Metallica solo for the crowd! The music is recorded locally and the transcription happens up in the cloud. In addition to a mobile app, there’s a web interface. Once the audio has been processed, you can see a MIDI of what the AI recognized and then download the automatically generated sheet music. Pretty darn cool. Right now it has to be a single instrument at a time, and you can also do vocals.

SAM, which first demoed back at DemoCamp Edmonton 22, was our final demo of the evening. Sean showed off the new Alerts product, which “turns unstructured social media chatter into actionable insight and awareness.” The service, which launched about eight months ago, processes Twitter information exclusively, to the tune of about 10 million tweets per day! There’s automatic classification but moderators can also adjust the classification of tweets. All of that data allows the models to be regenerated every night making the system even better. They’re actively working on new features too, like the ability to extract the number of people hurt in an event. Alerts is English-only for the moment, and counts the New York Times as a customer. The pitch is that Alerts is an early detection system, so news organizations can still apply their due diligence over top.

There were a few demo gremlins, but for the most part, everything went smoothly!

DemoCamp Edmonton 40

It was great to see so many students in attendance! If you’re a student, find out what Startup Edmonton has to offer.

If you’re looking to grow your own business, check out the new Talent Membership. “More than a connection to students, the Talent Membership gives you access to all of the activations we produce to help you recruit and retain our city’s brightest to your teams, from junior developers to mid-career marketing leads.”

Here are some upcoming events to note that were mentioned in-between demos:

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 41!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 38

I really meant to post this recap back in November, but for a variety of reasons, I never got around to it. I did take notes as usual though, so better late than never? Since then, DemoCamp Edmonton 39 took place on January 31. I missed that one, but for a good reason!

Edmonton’s 38th DemoCamp took place at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus on Tuesday, November 21. Here is my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 37) which took place in October.

DemoCamp Edmonton 38

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

In order of appearance, the demos included:

I always love seeing what local entrepreneurs and developers have been working on! It was great to see some demos from the Student Hackathon, and some hardware-focused demos too.

The first team’s project used three.js (which is a JavaScript 3D library) and the top 100 gifs from Gfycat to do some cool 3D rendering on the web. “To make a long story short, we essentially learned javascript on the fly, and made a cool 3D gallery app that gets GIFS from Gfycat, and displays them in 3 dank modes.” Not too bad for their first ever hackathon!

The second team showed us an “Internet of Things” coffee sleeve that sends you a tweet if your coffee is too hot. It does this by monitoring the inside and outside temperature of the cup and using IFTTT as a backend. Unfortunately, that means there are a bunch of live wires inside the cup! They called it “pretty sparky” coffee. They were inspired by the “useless shit that nobody needs” hackathon and finished their project in about 9 hours.

The third team showed us a real-time logging and data management application that was built for the student electric vehicle projects. Built using Django, the app sends 1 packet of data every half a second to provide information for the dashboard. They said teams would be using the app in upcoming competitions in California and London.

The final student hackathon demo was the most colorful: “an Arduino-powered, speed-detecting light show on your bike.” There’s a small magnet on the back wheel to track the number of revolutions per second to cycle and color the LEDs according to the frequency of revolution. Kevin told us it took about 300 lines of code and can handle up to 400 revolutions per second, which works out to 288 km/h. Cool stuff.

Next up was Rui who showed us a security app called Umwelt that he has been working on. The idea is that when you get up from your desktop, you generally take your phone with you, so why not detect that to lock the desktop? The app does this by measuring the strength of your Bluetooth connection. Too weak and it locks the machine. As you come back it gets stronger, and the desktop is unlocked as a result. It’s a cool idea, though not perfect, as Bluetooth can be affected by a large number of factors, not just distance. Rui said that Wi-Fi Direct would be better, but many phones don’t support it.

Our sixth demo was from Deo who showed us an AI-based transcription service he has been working on. The app uses IBM’s Watson services behind the scenes, and at the time worked on the web only though a mobile app was in the works. In addition to transcribing audio and providing a nifty editor, LiivLabs can take the transcribed text and summarize it into some key bullet points. It can also detect and recognize different voices to label them differently. Oh and by the way, Deo is still a high school student!

The next demo was from John who showed us Run for Stuff, an app that lets you earn rewards as you walk, run, job, or take the stairs. You can then redeem those rewards for active wear and other items from partners like HelloFresh. For every 100 steps you take, you earn 1 activity point on Run for Stuff. The app launched on iOS in August and uses the Apple Health SDK and built-in pedometer to track your activity. Since DemoCamp, the app has also launched on Android.

Our final demo was of Elev8 from Visio Media, an advertising platform currently active on screens in elevators throughout the city (including in the building I live in). The platform uses computer vision to do anonymous facial recognition for demographic analysis to serve you targeted ads. Basically, it can make an educated guess at your age, gender, and attention, and can show you ads that target that information. Other factors like the time or weather can also influence the ads you’ll see. Visio isn’t currently doing any eye-tracking, but they can detect if someone is facing the screen or not. They promised that no personal information is stored, just aggregated metrics to provide advertisers with some measurability. Visio Media was one of the presenting companies at Launch Party 4 back in November 2013.

There were the usual startup announcements sprinkled throughout the evening, like who’s hiring. Be sure to check out the job board for opportunities.

Some upcoming events to note:

If you’re interested in demoing at a future DemoCamp, you can apply here.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 40!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 37

Edmonton’s 37th DemoCamp took place at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus last Wednesday. Here is my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 36 which took place in May.

DemoCamp Edmonton 37

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

In order of appearance, the demos included:

I always love seeing what local entrepreneurs and developers have been working on!

First up was WedImage which is “an online wedding vendor marketplace with an emphasis on wedding photographers.” It started as a hobby site in 2010 but now features more than 1,600 different photographers. WedImage isn’t just about photographers though as they also hope to connect brides with other vendors they’ll need for their wedding, things like jewelry, food, decorations, etc. Key to WedImage is the use of real photos and not stock photos, so that brides know what they can expect.

The Low Road is a graphic adventure game from XGen Studios set in the 1970s. You play as an intern at a corporate espionage agency. You’re kind of like James Bond, or at least you want to be, but you quickly realize that the world isn’t quite as you pictured it. Your goal is to get out into the field as a spy by lying, stealing, manipulating, and blackmailing your co-workers. The game has been in development for 3 years and launched this summer on Steam for Mac and PC. They’re also planning a Linux version, and are considering the iPad as well. The game features over 32,000 lines of dialogue written by Leif Oleson-Cormack and just won a Digital Alberta award for “Best Game Experience”!

Our third demo was of You Can Benefit, a website that aims to reduce the barriers to accessing benefit applications. The project is “a partnership between the City of Edmonton, E4C, and volunteers from BetaCityYEG.” It’s still under construction, but one of the key features is that administrators from E4C can update the data without having to do any coding. The site is focused on Edmonton and Alberta right now.

Foosify was supposed to be our fourth demo, but the demo gods didn’t want to play ball. Developer Sheldon told us about it briefly, saying that initially he just wanted to parody startup culture so he threw up a landing page. He got so much interest though that he decided to go ahead and build it anyway! Foosify promises to “up your office’s foosball game” and essentially is a way to track matches. Sheldon hopes to add tournaments in the future.

Our fifth demo of the night was Vaniila Moments, which is a way to capture and share live events. The idea is to provide a better user experience than alternatives like Twitter Search. You can cover events live (called a Live Moment) and then readers/viewers can replay the archive later (called a Moment). You can also collaborate with others to produce a Moment together. I love dogfooding at DemoCamp – the team used Moments to cover DemoCamp all evening long!

The final demo of the evening was Cognilit, which is a “fully immersive brain training program” that uses your mobile device and a VR system like Google Cardboard. It promises to “improve your attention, cognitive processing speed, peripheral awareness, working memory and perception of complex movement.” Simba showed us a virtual world with different colored balls that we had to follow and then identify after they stopped moving. Imagine those “which box is the pizza in” or “which cup is the ball under” games that you see on the big screen at hockey arenas. I feel like the demo just scratched the surface, but it was still pretty cool.

All the presenters did a great job, even when things didn’t go as planned! There were the usual startup announcements sprinkled throughout the evening, like who’s hiring. Be sure to check out the job board for opportunities.

Some upcoming events to note:

  • Edmonton Startup Week takes place October 16 to 20. There are more than 30 events scheduled throughout the week!
  • Launch Party 8 takes place on October 19 inside Ford Hall at Rogers Place. Here are the presenting companies. Tickets are just $25, or $15 for students!
  • The next Monthly Hack Day is coming up at Startup Edmonton on Saturday, October 14.
  • Prelight is Startup Edmonton’s year-round program “dedicated to supporting your efforts to build, launch, and grow a tech-enabled product.” The next workshops are coming up soon, so apply here if you want to participate!
  • There are always lots of great meetups taking place at Startup Edmonton!

If you’re interested in demoing at a future DemoCamp, you can apply here.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 38!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 36

Edmonton’s 36th DemoCamp took place at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus tonight. Here is my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 34 which took place in February. I missed #35 in March, but you can see the lineup here.

DemoCamp Edmonton 36

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

In order of appearance, the demos included:

We had some really great demos, with a nice mix of apps, websites, and hardware projects. The demo gods must have been in a good mood tonight, because everything went fairly smoothly!

Blocky McBlockface is a side-project of RUN-WithIT which launched at Launch Party 7 back in October. Myrna and Grant showed us how they have used Google’s Blockly to help simplify their automation without needing to know how to code. They demoed using Selenium recorder to capture a test that could be triggered through a Blockly add-in they wrote which is a bash generator. Definitely the most nerdy demo of the evening, but interesting to see the attempt to turn programming and automation into a Lego-like experience.

Curtis and Jesse showed us MapsUp, which is “a drop in HUD for cars that requires no variation from traditional navigation workflow once setup.” It is designed to get directions from your phone to the hardware that sits on the dash which displays them off the windshield, giving you a transparent heads up display. It has the ability to automatically adjust for ambient light, so it works during the day too. Future improvements will focus on notifications and enriching what is displayed. They were inspired by an app that was doing this with the now-dead Pebble smartwatch and they built it in a 36-hour hackathon and said Bluetooth was probably the most painful hurdle to overcome. Very cool stuff.

Next, Eric and Nathan showed us Traktion, which attempts to improve the experience of both promoting and finding local live music. The site lets you browse performances, venues, artists, and more in your area but the current version is really targeted at organizers and performers. They can use the site to create attractive profiles, request and book events, and sell tickets. Traktion aims to let performers “create a profile in 30 seconds or less” by pulling in data automatically from Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and other services. They hope to add additional APIs over time and to improve the listener experience. The backend of the site is written in C#, while the frontend is using Aurelia.

DemoCamp Edmonton 36

Bootmark is an app that aims to make it easier and richer to share your favorite locations with friends. When you make a post, you pick a specific location on the map, and then you can share a note, photo, or video. You can follow other users and they can follow you. The app is in alpha right now in TestFlight while they are working to build out the functionality further. In the demo, they dropped a pin on Hudson’s Bay and uploaded a photo of the room, illustrating that there’s no restrictions on where you are when you make a post. Interestingly they positioned this as a way to tackle privacy concerns. The app is currently on iOS and they’ve started porting it to Android. They hope to work on integrations with Foursquare, Instagram, and other services in the future.

Gordon showed us iSports Live, an iOS app that delivers highlights for your favorite professional sports to your phone. When you open the app it shows you a list of games for today. Simply choose which ones you want to be notified about, and the rest happens behind-the-scenes. The web spiders that power iSports Live (built in Python) will look for highlights and deliver them as notifications to your device. In the future, Gordon hopes to expand from general game highlights to filtering notifications for specific players. He’s also starting to take advantage of iOS 10’s richer notifications.

Ryan introduced Full Circle Visuals’ demo as something “fantastically complicated, which is why its cool”. To succeed in 360 video he told us, you need a camera that can capture very high resolution video. They have built a rig with six Sony DSLR cameras outfitted with fisheye lenses. Software then “magically” takes the six videos and stitches it into a sphere, which you can look at inside the Oculus Rift or other devices. But that’s an individual experience, so Ryan has been working on projecting the video instead, and that’s what he showed us. Five years ago this would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to get all the equipment, but thanks to Moore’s Law that has come down dramatically. Ryan predicts that in the next five years or so you’ll be able to buy a 360 projector that you can install on your ceiling specifically for 360 video. It was an impressive demo made stronger by Ryan’s clear passion and energy for immersive video!

DemoCamp Edmonton 36
Full Circle Visuals’ six camera rig

I think the Full Circle Visuals demo was my favorite tonight. It’s so great to see that we have leaders in this still emerging field of visual storytelling right here in Edmonton. I also really enjoyed seeing MapsUp and Traktion, both of which are going to face a lot of competition but are off to a solid start.

Some upcoming events to note:

If you’re interested in demoing at a future DemoCamp, you can apply here. The next event is scheduled for late summer/early fall, so enjoy the summer break and get working on some cool stuff!

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 37!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 34

Edmonton’s 34th DemoCamp took place at the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CCIS) on the University of Alberta campus on January 24. It’s always a great opportunity to see what others in the local tech scene are up to. Here is my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 33 from back in November.

DemoCamp Edmonton 34

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.”

In order of appearance, the demos included:

The demo gremlins were alive and well that night! Many of the demos had technical issues or were otherwise unable to fully show off everything they wanted to. Still, we were treated to everything from a new platform for lawyers to an improvising robot. Very cool to see such variety!

First up was Scope AR, no stranger to DemoCamp – they started at Startup Edmonton about five years ago! WorkLink is one of their products and it can be used for interactive user manuals, among other things. Need to fix your sink? In the future you might have a Scope AR-powered guide to help you through the process, with digital overlays on exactly the parts you need to touch. They also showed off Remote AR, which they described as “kind of like FaceTime with annotations on the world.”

Next up was Get Rich Interactive, an intriguing new approach to digital storytelling. It focuses on the world of Wolfgang and Hayes, and you’re invited to explore their house, look at their stuff, and have some fun along the way. It’s part web comic, part interactive world, and part animated series. Gaian has been working on it for a couple years now and plans to continue growing the world with new storytelling elements.

Our third demo was UUORKBOOK, a platform for jobs, candidates, and the hiring process. Miguel has combined some elements of LinkedIn with some additional tools for recruiters to make scheduling easier and to conduct remote video interviews. Built using Angular JS, Laravel, and NodeJS, the product has been in development for about a year.

DemoCamp Edmonton 34

Next up was Reveal a makeover, an open source CSS and JavaScript library for reveal.js. Arjun started using reveal.js, which is a framework for building interactive slide decks, and quickly found he wanted themes. So, he came up with a solution! Makeover is a tool for developers and designers to make and take themes for reveal.js.

Amir is also no stranger to Startup Edmonton as deacloser was one of the participating companies at Launch Party 7. “dealcloser is an online platform designed to modernize the art of the deal, bringing to the future the archaic, paper-based process used ubiquitously by law firms around the world.” The goal is to streamline 40-50% of the deal process, and they’re getting ready for a real-world pilot this month.

Our final demo was A.I. Improv, Kory’s attempt to build an improvising robot. He’s a PhD student in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Alberta, so I’m not going to do the science behind the robot justice, but know that it’s legit. Kory combined neural networks trained on the Open Subtitles dataset with a general purpose Blueberry robot to come up with his solution. He joked that his goal is to one day have two robotic improvisors performing for a room full of robots.

DemoCamp Edmonton 34
Kory Mathewson demos his improv robot

Some upcoming events to note:

  • Preflight Beta is coming up on February 14. Preflight helps “founders and product builders experiment and validate a scalable product idea.” Applications are now being accepted.
  • Founders & Funders is coming up on February 23 at Startup Edmonton. Tickets are $20.
  • The next Monthly Hack Day is taking place on Saturday, March 4 at Startup Edmonton. It’s a great way to get in the habit of building.
  • There are meetups almost every night at Startup Edmonton, check the calendar here.

If you’re interested in demoing at a future DemoCamp, you can apply here. The next event is scheduled for Tuesday, March 7.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 35!

DemoCamp Edmonton 34 – January 24, 2017

Edmonton’s 34th DemoCamp is coming up on Tuesday, January 24, 2017. DemoCamp is a great way to see what local entrepreneurs have been working on and to network with developers, creatives, and investors in Edmonton’s local tech scene. The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.

DemoCamp Edmonton 14

DemoCamp Edmonton 34
WHEN: Tuesday, January 24 at 6:30pm
WHERE: CCIS 1-140, University of Albertamap
RSVP

Here’s a sneak peek at the line-up for Tuesday’s event (subject to change):

Augmented reality, an improvisation bot, and a platform for closing deals are just a few of the things you can expect to see in action. Should be a fun night! Experienced DemoCampers will know the event takes place in two parts – demos and networking. After the demos are finished at CCIS, join the crowd over at RATT (Room At The Top) on the 7th floor of the Students Union Building, to keep the conversation going.

To get a sense of what to expect, check out my recaps of previous DemoCamps here. If you can’t make it in person, you can follow along on Twitter with the #democampyeg hashtag or on Snapchat by following StartupEdmonton.

DemoCamp is just one of the many events organized by Startup Edmonton, an entrepreneurial campus and community hub. You can learn more in this video:

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 34!