For Dutch startup Vigour, the second screen is not enough. The company, founded by three twenty-somethings and based in Amsterdam and Berlin, has built technology that lets you swipe content fluidly from one screen to another to another, all within a browser.
So, you could be watching “Arrested Development” via Netflix on your iPad, only to decide that you’d prefer to see it on your large-screen TV. With a swipe, it’s there, and suddenly your iPad becomes a remote control. To shift the show to your smartphone, it’s just another swipe, and then you can walk with the show out the door.
To get to grips with the tech, try this simple demo game put together by the Vigour team. You can flick a digital puck from screen to screen with no disruption, and without having to open an app. (For a further look, you can watch the demo video put together by the Vigour team.)
Vigour’s developers, led by co-founders Jim de Beer and Marcus Besjes, have built a platform that allows applications to run on any device, giving you the ability to merge multiple screens into one, push different content from device to device, and turn devices into controllers. To prove the value of the technology, Vigour is initially focusing on media, although the platform obviously has pretty wide applications, including for gaming, collaborating, and advertising. “To show the disruptive power of what it can do, we really needed to bring it into the market ourselves,” explains co-founder and CEO Ramon Duivenvoorden.
Duivenvoorden says the ideal partners for Vigour at this point would be owners and distributors of online video. He holds up Netflix as a dream customer.
Vigour is the result of work the guys did as a consulting job for a Dutch telco, which can’t be named because the product in question hasn’t yet gone to market. Realizing how big the problem they had cracked was, the team entered Startup Bootcamp in Berlin and used the money earned from their consulting fees to set up their own company.
Today, the company is announcing not only its product, Vigour Video, but also a seed round of about $650,000, led by Deutsche Telekom’s early stage investment vehicle, hub:raum, with participation from Dutch venture capital fund Linden Mobile Ventures. The startup has also secured a strategic partnership with German tech company DG-i. Hampus Jakobsson, co-founder of mobile interface wizards TAT (acquired by RIM) and sales app Dexplora, has also invested in the company. Vigour Video is three to six months away from launch, Duivenvoorden says.
At this early stage, the company is focused on Europe, but it has been talking to potential customers in the US. When it comes time to raising a Series A round of funding, the US could become significantly more attractive, Duivenvoorden says. It plans to make money by selling a customizable white-label version of the app to customers, and then, because all the content linking is managed in the cloud, by charging a monthly fee based on usage.
Vigour’s challenge will be in maintaining its head start on competitors and scaling its technology to meet mass-market demands. It might also find itself handicapped by starting in Europe, when so many of the world’s deep-pocketed media owners, not to mention venture capitalists with larger funds and more capacity for risk, reside in the US. Vigour will need all the capital and clout it can get. As proven by the team’s previous relationship with the Dutch telco, big tech players are already investing heavily in this sort of technology. Panasonic, for instance, has an Android app that performs similar tricks. MIT Media Lab is also working on fluid interfaces, although the latest demonstration of its tech suggests that it lags far behind Vigour’s. It will be interesting, too, to see how Quik.io, which allows easy cloud-based sharing of content across devices via an app, responds.
The good news for consumers is that, regardless of who wins the race, this super-easy content-sharing technology is just a swipe away.