FEATURE13 February 2012

Our pick of the SXSW Accelerator finalists

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The SXSW Accelerator is now in its fourth year and is designed to showcase the most innovative emerging online technologies – including, this year, a host of data and analytics tools that could be put to use in market research.

The full list of 48 finalists (plus stand-by contestants) is online here, but below are the technologies that caught our eye.


What they say: “The best way to share and collaborate on spreadsheets and other datasets publicly with the world or privately with a team or across an organisation.”

Not only a way of storing data, but a way of sharing it and getting people involved in understanding it and putting it to work. The obvious application is within clientside research teams or within agencies where researchers are collaborating on a project, but the potential for getting public input is intriguing. Anyone up for collaborative data-crunching sessions with consumers?


What they say: “Ushahidi develops free and open source software for information collection, visualisation and interactive mapping; tools for democratising information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories.”

There seems little completely new here, or in the company’s description of its SwiftRiver product as enabling “the filtering and verification of real-time data from channels like Twitter, SMS, Email and RSS feeds”. But unique among social media monitoring and analysis tools is the way it came into being – it was designed initially as a way to help governments and NGOs quickly process data during emergencies.


What they say: “Empowers publishers, advertisers and agencies with a deep understanding of audience engagement by leveraging vast amounts of aggregated, real-time social data.”

Umbel says it is setting out to map the “digital genome” of humans and brands on the internet. For brands this means linking their Facebook profile so Umbel can run an analysis on the people who have ‘liked’ it to understand what else they like, along with the demographic and sociographic profile of the audience. Individual Facebook users get the same treatment, but whereas brands might use Umbel to help them target things to sell, consumers can use it to help find things they might like to buy or try. Best of all, though, is the opportunity to get your own genome map (see below).


What they say: “Correlate is an analytics and machine learning platform for building flexible applications around domain specific data.”

Yet another tool for analysing masses of social media and other communications data, but this one emerged from a project to help the US House of Representatives manage their “constituent correspondent” problem – that is, having far too much to read and understand. Correlate is designed to synch up with email servers; IB5K’s Aware adds in social media analysis capabilities.


What they say: “SceneTap utilises anonymous facial detection technology and video-based software to effectively track customer analytics in a venue or particular space, including crowd density, male to female ratio, and average age.”

For venue owners this seems to be a neat way of understanding their guest profile – a little bit of customer research to help them market themselves and possibly work out tie-ups with drinks brands promoting new products. It works using just two cameras. The first camera counts people as they move in and out of the venue, while the second sends an image to a software program which analyses facial features to determine a person’s gender and approximate age.


What they say: “Votifi is a mobile polling and analytics company that helps people explore issues and build networks. Its technology discerns users’ points of view to facilitate peer-to-peer connections across political and social boundaries.”

Votifi sees itself as a tool for political re-engagement. Through mobile polls and Facebook and Twitter integration, it aims to get Americans voting on key issues and talking about them with people across the country. It might not be a tool for commercial researchers to use, but if it succeeds in its aims it might have plenty to teach the industry about how to build a compelling and engaging experience that has research at its core.


What they say: “Scrible changes how you read, research and share the web by enabling you to annotate web pages right in the browser and share them or save them to a personal library in the cloud.”

A number of research agencies have developed web technology that allows consumers to annotate web pages, adverts and other online content to share their immediate impressions. Scrible puts roughly the same capabilities in the hands of consumers at no cost (although a paid version is expected soon), and as such it seems like it could find a home within the research process both as a desk research app and as a tool respondents can use for pre-tasks. But as with BuzzData before it, our real interest is in the possibility of using Scrible collaboratively.

  • For more information on SXSW Accelerator, click here. Judging takes place on 12-13 March

1 Comment

9 years ago

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