Takeaways from SPARKt

Last week I had the chance to give a presentation at SPARKt, an innovation and technology conference focused on real estate. I got a chance to listen to Alan Warms, founder of Appolicious, Phil Di Gulio, co-founder of WellcomeMat, Bruce Payne, Director of SEO at Tribune. If I had to sum up the conversation at the conference it would be mobile. With the advent of web enabled location aware phones, mobile applications have the potential to be more relevant to the user’s context than ever before. Almost every speaker talked about or mentioned mobile. The audience was even familiar with apps like Foursquare.

Alan Warms mentioned that on his site Appolicious, a mobile apps directory and review site, there were over a 1000 listings of mobile apps under real estate. Phil talked about his latest project Pegshot which was very exciting. To quote his site:

Pegshot is a photo/video service that enables friends & family to experience what’s happening where you are.

It lets you annotate your life based on location. For example, I can take a video of my lunch and post it to Pegshot. My friends can then see my video, complete with a Google Maps that annotates just where I was having lunch. It’s a service that basically rolls something like Twitter, twitpic, qik and maybe foursquare all in one integrated service.

Another topic that was mentioned by no less than 3 people, including myself was augmented reality. It was a topic that needed no explanation, since most people were familiar with it. I think that speaks to the fact that it’s starting to enter into people’s vernacular and gaining adoption. There are many apps on both the iPhone and Android platform that do AR. Yelp Monocle is a particularly cool one that integrates w/ Yelp reviews. By pointing your iPhone around, the screen will show what you see, overlayed w/ Yelp star ratings of the venues.

Speaking of the audience, even though most people were from the real estate industry, most were also very familiar with social media and services like Twitter. In fact more than half of the audience were on Twitter and a few were live tweeting.

I think the overarching theme that we see happening if we take a step back is that computing will no longer be tied to desk. People are able to access information everywhere now and with more mobile devices equipped with even more sophisticated sensors and technology, mobile computers will be able to serve peoples’ needs better by being aware of the context of the user. Also, people no longer need to interface with machines in the traditional keyboard entry way. New devices like the iPhone and Google Android all support some sort of touch capability. A new class of users are using the internet without ever having to go through a desktop computer.

Taking it a step further, apps like Siri combine context awareness and voice recognition.

In short, the field of mobile is super exciting to be in now. Speaking of mobile, yours truly will be participating in the hackathon at the Day of Mobile Conference in Chicago this weekend.