Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Robot that balances on a ball could become big

This is an example of something that is going on in a lab right now and has the potential to become a really big product. It can become:

  • a robot to help professional movers transport stuff

  • a robotic domestic helper for everyday tasks and for moving heavy things around

  • a robot for space exploration

  • a robotic waiter for serving drinks in bars and restaurants

  • a game for kids

  • ...

I don't know anything about marketability, cost of production and the limitations of the technology, but this can become (very) big.

Monday, May 3, 2010

From concept to prototype in a weekend: CrowdPhoto.net

CrowdPhoto.net emerged in my market watch as an interesting initiative, not only because it exemplifies the potential of crowdsourcing, but also because it was built in a weekend using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

CrowdPhoto is a bit like an Aardvark service for pictures: people request a specific picture like "A pink penguinin North Pole" and specify how much they're willing to spend to get their hands on the picture; other people can submit materials in response to the request and get paid for the picture(s) they provided. I'm not too clear whether there is a reward sharing or other mechanism in case many people provide content on the same request, but that's the concept in substance. The prototype is remarkable in a few ways:

  1. it was deployed in just a weekend

  2. the minimal set of features is present and usable by the perennial idiot without anything getting broken... in a visible way at least

  3. technical aspects were addressed in conjunction with marcoms aspects since the prototype has its logo, tag line, clear statement of what it's all about and, yes, it's Twitter account @crowdphoto

Crowdphoto makes me think of the world described by David Brin in his book Earth, where privacy gets overtaken by low-cost mass-adopted high-tech surveillance, communications and database tools that people carry around propelling the planet into an era of complete social transparency. Each person who freely contributes content on the web has a level of authority relative to the topics they are covering and is therefore more or less influential. 

Whether it's going to fly or not as an economically profitable operation is quite another story and to a large extent not a very relevant one. The sheer fact that people have the capability to go from concept to deployed prototype in just a weekend thanks to infrastructure as a service is truly amazing and has far-reaching implications for entire categories of businesses that can now be tested fast and in a flexible way. I just wonder what was the sum total of effort and money invested in preparing the weekend and in building the prototype.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dropbox startup lessons learned

The presentation in this video is a really interesting account of how Dropbox grew to become an awesome product for millions of people around the globe. It's very good inspiration.

Watch live video from Startup Lessons Learned on Justin.tv