NY Tech Meetup Strikes a Chord

Client obligations and new biz dev kept me from the New York Tech Meetup these last few months, so I was glad to find a seat at the May gathering this week at NYU’s Skirball Auditorium. Leave it to Nate and Jessica to keep it fresh. The evening kicked off with an a cappella singing group made up of who else? — workers from various NYC startups.  It was their first public performance.


Not bad, huh?  We then segued to an IBM engineer named Spike who demo’d what the nano-technophiles were buzzing about all last week: the world’s smallest movie, made entirely of atoms. Video here:


The 700+ on-site attendees (plus hundreds more remotely) were then treated to several demos of more dubious utility, mostly resulting from 24-hour hackathons. Not that I have anything against 24-hour hackathons. And who am I to question the value of a breathalyzer test that prevents coders from changing their code while drunk, or a robotic beer dispenser that works with a wave of an RFID-wearing wrist?

I personally get a bigger charge with new tech tools and apps that offer more redeeming qualities than the Arduino-based laser tag game with remote control tanks or the virtual drum set using just a mobile phone and HTML5. (I will admit, however, that I was in the minority judging from the warm reception these demos had.)  

Videolicious’ Matt Singer

I did enjoy hearing from a very smooth David Mandel of PivotDesk, a company that matches a startup’s workspace needs with others offering both excess office space and a good cultural fit.

A second cool company called Videolicious makes it painless for the burgeoning crop of video content creators to package HD video segments from existing and disparate clips — on the fly with music too. It works with any touchscreen iOS device.

At a loss for finding fresh content that you actually want to share in your social circles? Rallyverse‘s algorithm delves into your social DNA – including your last 200 tweets — couples it with its own proprietary database — to identify content that is uber-personalized to your interests. So much for Google Reader and its successors.

The Muse’s Kathryn Minshew & Team

Finally, I enjoyed seeing The Muse’s svelte Kathryn Minshew again (I moderated her on a recent PCNY panel on the subject of “contributed content”) waxing about her site’s singular purpose of helping both job seekers and employers reach shared nirvana.

The May NYTM ended with a demo of IMRSV, a face detection software that turns any webcam into an intelligent device.  Unlike iPhoto’s Faces, which can detect pre-selected faces of people you know, IMRSV’s Cara software gathers robust, real time analytics that includes gender, age and attention time. A Cara-enabled webcam scans one’s face and lets you know something about the person anonymously.

A scan of presenter Jason Sosa’s face noted that he was a “young adult.” Unfortunately (for him) his test demo using NYTM executive director Jessica Lawrence labeled her simply as an “adult.” Oops. Game over.

Photos & Video: Peter Himler with a Canon PowerShot SX40 HS