Since moving to Sweden, work has been a bit of a pain to come by (which is a story for another post), but I have managed to join up with a pair of students in the University of Lund's Masters of Entrepreneurship program to build a startup together. Their final presentation was this morning, so I was up (relatively) early to attend that as their third partner and CTO.
I can't really get too detailed about the company just yet (non-disclosure and all), but they have publicized a blog at http://fishtwits.com and can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/FishTwits - I'll leave it at that as far as what we're doing. If you visit those URLs, though, you can draw your own conclusions.
Anyhow, there were a total of seventeen businesses being started up by the members of their classes and I hung out there for a couple hours after our presentation before deciding to head home. That gave me time to check out at least the basics of everything and view an extended demonstration by Logos 3D1 of their small-footprint 3D graphics rendering technology, which was extremely impressive2, before deciding that it was pretty much just the students in the Entrepreneurship program who were there, so there wasn't much point in staying.
I also happened to overhear one of the guys with the wine education startup saying that he'd been in Gothenburg last night for some sort of entrepreneurial award event and that second place went to some people setting up a business to do automatic SMS-to-voice service, so that you can have your text messages read to you on the phone. I had kind of a hard time believing it, so I double-checked with him and, sure enough, it was among the winners. While I can see how this would be potentially useful and could have a significant market, I was writing code to do pretty much the exact same thing at BridgeCom back in 2000/2001 (the primary difference was that we were doing text-to-speech on email messages, since SMS wasn't really around yet) and I would expect innovative ideas to win contests, not minor updates to things that were being done a decade ago.
1 That's "logos" in the philosophical sense, not the plural of "logo". They have nothing to do with business graphics or branding.
2 They had a laptop running an interactive 3D world containing a small island, with realistic water (complete with waves), clouds, sunrise/sunset, trees, rocks, butterflies, etc. with rendering quality comparable to current video games. Which isn't really that big a deal these days - just license the latest version of the Quake engine and you can have that easy.
But the latest Quake engine would require a sizable chunk of a DVD to store everything needed for models, textures, etc. and take a substantial amount of time to build those resources.
These guys were running it all from an image that fits onto a 1.44M floppy disc - and about 40% of that was the environmental sound files. It took the two of them a little over a week to build, including creating the tools they needed; now that they have the tools, they estimate they could do it again in 1-2 days.
Very impressive. I hope to be able to buy games using their technology one day relatively soon.