My friend Ed from TeleVoce was there showing off a prototype of the TeleVoce Duetto. The Duetto is a special cordless phone that can take both VoIP calls through a connected computer and regular PSTN calls. One cool feature of the phone is that if it detects that your regular phone line is already in use, it routes the call over the Internet. Of course, if you’re trying to make a call to someone else with a regular phone, you will need to have previously arranged for a VoIP to PSTN gateway service.
When I walked up to talk to Ed, he was explaining how the Duetto works to someone else. At one point, she mentioned that she was interested in the company from the position of an angel investor. I was pretty sure it was Kim Polese, so after I got home I tracked down a photo of her on the web. I’m now fairly certain it was Kim.
Stereographics was also there showing off two different 3D displays. They had a traditional 3D display that required special glasses. The display switches rapidly between the two different parts of the stereo image. The glasses have liquid crystal shutters that are synched to the display. The brain automatically fuses the images, leaving you with the perception of seeing a 3D image on a 2D screen.
The Synthagram display didn’t require glasses. They put a special layer (technically, a microlens array) on a conventional LCD display to create the 3D effect. The technology is pretty similar to the 3D baseball cards I used to collect when I was a kid. In fact, they gave me a similar style, albeit much larger, card with a very cool 3D image of a coral reef with tropical fish and dolphins. Since you need to use special software to create the images, this display is primarily targeted at commercial advertising, casinos, and arcade gaming.
SightSpeed was there showing off their video messaging and video conferencing tools. They currently support only Windows and Mac OSs, but the CTO told me they would start offering a Linux client in about a month. He said they were waiting on a couple more distributions to include the Linux 2.6 kernel, since they need ALSA to support real-time audio. I’ve heard really good things about the quality of their software, so I’m really happy they’re adding Linux support.
GlooLabs was demonstrating their software that powers the HomePod, which is manufactured by MacSense. The HomePod is a wireless audio platform. The software is written in Java and it is running in the HomePod on an embedded Linux operating system. The software controller app is also written in Java and it is supported on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. The basic idea of the HomePod is that it can stream music from computer-like devices to standard audio devices, like a home stereo. The HomePod can grab music (currently MP3 only, but soon to include AAC – I can only hope they add Ogg Vorbis some day) from folders or an iTunes library on a computer over a wired or wireless connection. The HomePod also supports Internet radio stations, but only MP3-based streams, such as SHOUTcast. On top of all this, it includes a small infrared remote control.
If you’re a developer, you should check out the developer edition of the HomePod, which gives you a Linux login, C APIs for the drivers, Java APIs for the apps, the ability to update the firmware, and access to the GLOO development team. Hmmm, if I only thought I had enough free time, I would buy one and try to enable Ogg Vorbis support myself.
There was also a company with a low end Segway clone, a company with a way cool home theater chair, and lots of other cool stuff.