Ultrasound on an iPhone, Wireless Power Beaming, Making Hybrids Sound Like Mustangs: Highlights from the MIT Enterprise Forum

12/10/10Follow @xconomy

Writing about business at the microscopic level of genes and cells means that I rarely get to see compelling A/V shows of products in action. So last night was a rare treat to get an up-close look at a half dozen fun and interesting startups in Seattle, from a variety of industries, who were asked to give 8-minute demos that would do no less than make a business audience fall in love with their product.

This was the scene at the Northwest Startup Demo event at One Union Square in Seattle, organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest. I served as one of seven judges who were asked to award the prize for the best product demo. This was my first time judging this competition, but I will say that the overall quality of presentations struck me as surprisingly good, and there may even be a couple companies with legs. Kent, WA-based LaserMotive, the sci-fi-like company that beams power wirelessly, walked away with the top prize of the evening, but in my view, this was a close call.

“This year was the best we’ve ever had in terms of overall quality,” said Villette Nolon, president of Seraph Capital Forum, and a more seasoned judge than I.

Here are some brief highlights from each of the finalists who presented their demos:

EverSpeech. This Redmond, WA-based company, led by Charles Hemphill, offers speech recognition technology to help professionals fill out forms on the Web. Hemphill wore a noise-reducing headset, speaking clearly into his microphone, and showed on a screen how he could quickly and easily fill out an engineering inspection form without using his hands. One example he gave, to illustrate how it works, was of how an airplane mechanic who’s up on a ladder looking at parts could fill out a form without having to use his hands to jot notes.

Lipp Sync Automotive. Entrepreneur Bob Lipp had the audience giggling from the get-go with his demo. He fired up a program on his computer to demonstrate what he calls the “Throttlebox,” which he intends to sell to hybrid car owners as a way to simulate engine noise at low speeds, to help avoid accidents that can happen by running into unsuspecting bicyclists and pedestrians. The funny thing was the sound—the engine he was simulating was that of a growling V-8 from a 1970 Ford Mustang at idle—not exactly the kind of sound people envision coming from a Toyota Prius.

You can laugh all you want, but Lipp made his case … Next Page »

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