A Few New Concept Demos

Our new team members, Raymond and Tony, have been busy in their short time with us, and they’re embracing the AppsLab way.

What way is that you ask? Since the beginning, we’ve always started with an idea and moved quickly to build something conceptual to see how and if the idea works.

Connect began life as the IdeaFactory, which Rich (@rmanalan) put together in 24 hours to give life to our idea about enterprise social networking. More recently, Anthony’s (@anthonysali) new toy, the Google Glass, begat the Fusion CRM Glass app.

To be clear, none of this is product. It’s not even really project work, although we do sometimes launch projects based on the initial concept work. This is just smart developers, messing around with ideas, trying to see what works.

Over the years, we’ve built lots of these demos, which I’m calling concept demos lately. Some have evolved into full-scale projects. Others have been moth-balled into our Git repo, which I’m told has something like 40-some odd projects in various states of completeness.

I like to think that code never dies. It just waits around for the right circumstances.

Sorry about that, won’t happen again.

Anyway, with Anthony and Noel (@noelportugal) tied up with travel and other projects, Raymond and Tony have taken the baton and cranked out a couple of cool concept demos.

First, they collaborated to build a working geo-fencing demo. The idea here is that data on a device should be subject to physical location, e.g. patient data in a hospital, customer-sensitive bank data. If the device is within the fence, data exist and can be accessed; when the device leaves the fence perimeter, the data are removed from the device and cannot be retrieved from the server.

Here are some shots of the concept demo at work.


Contact data for a fictional Swiss bank’s customers inside the geo-fence, i.e. Switzerland.


Customer contact data removed when the device leaves the geo-fence.

Tony did the groundwork development for this one, and Raymond cleaned it up to demo more cleanly. The toughest part of this one was spoofing the GPS with a fake location to fool it into believing it was inside/outside the geo-fence.

Second, Jeremy, our overlord, owns a Pebble watch, so we’ve been messing about with one for giggles. Possibly as a joke, Jeremy said we should build a watchface app for sales reps that showed “motivational” metrics like days to quarter close and percentage of sales quota achieved.

So, Raymond did that.


I guess the lesson is that it’s not always a good idea to joke around developers.

Why do we do stuff like this?

Aside from proving out ideas, projects like these, the Glass app and the Leap Motion-controlled robot arm allow the guys to go hands-on with the SDKs and APIs of devices we may actually build for in the future. These experiences are incredibly valuable because when it comes time to do a full-scale project, they have a baseline understanding of what we can reasonably do and how easy or difficult it will be.

That experience leads to much better estimates of development times, and it removes some of the uncertainty involved. Oh, and it helps control the scope early in a project, which makes execution and timely delivery achievable.

If you’re counting, that’s a win-win-win-win-win, or something.

Yeah, concept demos are usually rough around the edges, but they’re baked enough to give an idea of what’s possible. Plus, concept demos get done quickly, so ideas can be vetted and move on or be tabled without spending a ton of time and effort, e.g. Raymond and Tony banged out the geo-fencing concept demo in less than two weeks, and Raymond built the Pebble concept in under a week.

And that’s real time. They were doing other things too.




  1. Ya have to build something (a concept demo, a prototype, or whatever else you want to call it) to see if your idea has any kind of legs. There is no other way…besides, it’s fun and we get to call it work.

  2. @Floyd: Yup, you’re absolutely right. I see a concept demo as the first step to proving out an idea, even before a prototype; I use them to show value when asking for future investment into an idea. It’s semantics; you know how people are about talking their language 🙂

  3. Making a concept demo can also send you down some otherwise not-traversed roads, and that can be a good thing.

    In this case, because it was a demo, we had to spoof location. A real geo-fencing service wouldn’t really have to do that. Anyway, in the process of implementing the mock locations we learned a lot more, including identifying some potential booby traps that could mysteriously show up in a bigger project.

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