July 10th, 2013 NYTech Meetup
On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, OLC attended NYTech’s monthly event showcasing up-and-coming and fantastic startups and companies related to technology. In this particular event, there were 12 presenters: AHALife, Dispatch, DrawQuest, Fiftythree, HealthyOut, KeyMe, Knod.es, Moven, The New York Times, including three Hack of the Month presenters, Bayesian Methods for Hackers, StallWall and Web Explorer.
KeyMe presented first, explaining that they were a store for keys in the cloud. They came up with a cool technology, which makes spare keys easy using a kiosk, but with the data stored on the cloud. Their machine easily analyses 75 percent of keys in the market today, using 3D geometry analysis software. With an account, which is created using fingerprinting technology, the user can save keys to the cloud. “The hard part is the machine visual aspect,” Greg Marsh, CEO of KeyMe said. “We developed machine learning and now it can recognize up to 75 percent of the market with no problem.” KeyMe kiosks are available in select 7/11s around NYC.
AHALife is a curated discovery platform that connects brands and stories to people around the world, which spans from design to technology, food to fashion, beauty and travel. Its mobile platform was launched just this June, but the platform itself was launched about three years ago, with Shauna Mei as founder & CEO and Matt Wilkerson as co-founder & CFO. Using AHALife, customers can appreciate the quality of the items in its inventory. What the platform does is tell brand stories and unique facts about the curated items to engage the customers and inspire them. With the bite-sized stories linked with curated items, the interesting facts become fun and frictionless to go through. Another interesting feature is the integration of iPhone features, allowing users to call people like Deepak Chopra on AHALife. The platform is enabled on iPhone 4, 4S and 5.
HealthyOut, the winner of the NYC Big Apps Competition, is an app to solve eating habits. The recommended lists are based on the user’s tastes and food preferences. The app shows dishes and restaurants. It makes eating out healthy and flexible. Meals from restaurants can also be delivered automatically based on the user’s health options. Developed by Wendy Nguyen (Co-founder & CEO), Jonathan Hironaga (Developer) and Dan Myers (Co-founder) the app gives users 12 nutritional preferences to choose from and nine options to choose from regarding foods that the user doesn’t want to eat. The platform even creates a weekly meal schedule, but users can simply cancel at any time (within 90 minutes of the allotted time) and menus can be changed seamlessly.
Moven is a revolutionary new service that helps users save and spend smarter. A mobile money management solutions platform, it gives simple intuitive insights to finance. Bank statements only provide the balance and transactions—there’s no notification telling you to cut down on spending. But with Moven, users get an automated receipt sent straight to the phone. The system calculates the information in real-time and pushes the data to the phone. Moven links spending from all accounts and displays it on their “Money Pulse.” Users can also pay friends through Facebook, which is received immediately. With Moven, information is given to inform users about their behavior to change it for the better.
DrawQuest is an iPad app developed by Christopher Poole (also known as the founder of 4chan) and his company, Canvas. DrawQuest brings creative expression back to life. “I saw people having problems with blank canvasses,” Poole said. “DrawQuest basically gives users a starting point. Users submit it to a gallery and they can view other drawings by people.” DrawQuest isn’t a competitive drawing app—it’s about exploration and building community. Users are treating DrawQuest as a way to express their creativity.
Dispatch is touted to be the solution to reply-all chains. The problem that we face today regarding email is that our inboxes are noisy. Dispatch lets users get email that they want. It works like a distribution list or a project management tool without the burdens of it. It gives the email a place to live on the web and mirrors it so that people can check it out only when they want to. Users have the option of opting out of reply chains or optin to receive all emails. It also gives users the option of selecting one email, which gets its own encrypted URL to share with third-party clients for feedback or advice. Dispatch even syncs with Dropbox and Google Docs to ensure an up-to-date and reliable emailing platform.
At this point, three hacks of the month were presented, with StallWall, developed by Stuyvesant High School senior Jules Skrill. “Why haven’t we virtualized the bathroom wall?” Skrill asked. “With StallWall, you never have to really leave the public domain.”
StallWall is an interactive whiteboard that can be edited by a variety of people in realtime—as long as they have the URL to play within. It even gives the host an option to revise the board, meaning that they can view the board in any time in its history.
Web Explorer turns websites into platformers. To install, users must drag the Web Explorer button (a Java-based app) to the bookmark section of their browser. Once clicked, DIV tags become platforms and a sprite appears on the screen to “explore” the contents of the website. To move, the player uses the WASD keys to move and by using the Z key, users can interact with links.
Cam Davisdson-Pilon presented Bayesian Methods for Hackers, a book written in Python about data analysis. “The book is code—it runs on iPython notebook,” Davidson-Pilon said. “The book opens up on your browser and you can edit it within the notebook. You can actually run code in the browser. It’s a great tool to play around with. What this tool will teach you is Bayesian methods.” The book can perform plots and analysis and it contains formulas for users to try out to solve comment sorting, which is supposedly difficult to code.
The New York Times made an appearance on stage with Evan Sandhaus, Lead Architect For Semantic Platforms for The New York Times. He was there to demo a new, redesigned NY Times reader. “The archive is split up,” Sandhaus said. “From 1981 onwards, the archive is digitized, but 1981 and before, they’re all scanned microfilm.
In 2008, the NY Times released the Times Machine to let users see the whole story and the context behind articles within the archives. In the new iteration, the newspaper is like a map—it’s draggable. It’s also shareable and articles are zoomable. Articles have their own URL and images are tiled into the browser and georeferenced. The new reader, however, is not designed for mobile.
Knod.es was presented by RJ Williams. “Why is it so hard to get stuff done?” he asked. “We’re only limited to posting on Facebook or Twitter and just 7 percent of our friends see that.” What Knod.es does is make data searchable. It services in right users at the right time. Knod.es can segment users and activate them on moments or content that is important to them—at least, according to their data. It makes it easy for brands or people to leverage the power of people that already love them.
Fiftythree demoed Paper, the most beautiful way to create and develop ideas on the iPad. As of July, over 8 million pages have been created since its inception. Their name, Fiftythree stems from the average arm length—53 centimeters. Paper’s features include a paintbrush, which feels and looks like a watercolor palette. The development of Paper required a deep understanding between designers and engineers, which ultimately paid off. Paper is Fiftythree’s first iOS app. They wanted to create an immersive app that felt like a game, incorporating real-time shadows and lighting. Interface can be controlled easily and almost everything can be altered, which cuts down on pixel-pushing conversations. Paper also utilizes a feed, which pulls sketches from Paper artists from all over the world.