Steve Hix, founder of InFocus Systems and creator of their first projector, has more than a dozen successful companies under his belt and has spent the last 20 years perfecting large-scale presentations. Now, he has released a solution for small groups that stands to revolutionize the presentation industry once again. Hix’s most recent venture, Circle Technology, revolves around the presentation of material to clients and small groups. Circle Technology software solutions allow users to sit down in a meeting and easily put the images from their computer screen into everyone’s hands without wires, internet access, or setup.
It began with a meeting in Paris.
“I have a fingerprint company in Virginia, and I was in Paris to work with a large corporation over there. They wanted to buy some stuff,” says Hix. “I went to give a presentation and I thought they would have a projector. They had a beautiful office — crystal, walnut walls, the whole nine yards — with a little round table and no projection capability.”
“We had flown all the way to France to give this presentation assuming there would be a projector in the room. All of our presentation, and our PowerPoint presentation in particular, was on this one laptop,” says Chris Boyd, Director of Sales at Circle Technology and long-time associate of Steve Hix. “We ran down the hallway and asked if we could get on their guest network to create a simple GoToMeeting or a WebX meeting of some sort. There was no guest network and they wouldn’t let us on theirs because we were from America and we were not part of the corporation. So we couldn’t create that hosted network. So, basically, we gave our entire presentation with everybody next to each other shoulder-surfing, huddled next to each other. And this is with CEO, CFO, and senior VPs so it was a full-blown, formal presentation. It was very interesting, to say the least, but it went well. It was a great product.”
“I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,'” says Hix. “So that’s where we came up with Circle.”
When they arrived back in the states, Steve got to work researching and developing a solution. He wanted a product that could allow for multiple users to view the same content. At that time tablets were growing rapidly, both for consumers and corporations. Hix wondered, why not create a product that allows people to view content from a presentation on their personal device? Being a hardware guy, Hix first came up with a hardware solution involving purchasing laptops and tablets, where a presenter would use the laptop and hand out tablets to those in attendance, everyone could view content on their tablets, and the presenter would leave with all hardware after the presentation. As BYOD expanded, it became clear that the software behind this system was the real draw.
“Everyone now has probably a phone and a tablet with them,” says Boyd. “There’s all these devices in the marketplace that everyone currently has. So instead of going with the hardware play and offering that, we felt that we should create a multiplatform presentation solution. So we offered the app instead of having customers buy the Android from us. That’s kind of where we are today; we sell a licensed software to your device and then your device becomes the presentation tool.”
Circle Host Software is divided into three categories; CircleMobile for presentations on the go, CircleHub for presentations in the room or on the road, and CircleBox, a hardware solution for large-scale presentations. Meanwhile, Circle Viewer Software is for client devices. It automatically receives the presentation and displays it on smart devices with the Circle Viewer Software installed. Circle Viewer Software comes preinstalled on all Circle Displays and is available as an app to download for free on a smart device. No internet or data plan is required to connect Circle Viewer to presentations.
Circle Host Software may be run from a Windows 7 or 8 PC or smart device with Wi-Fi support. Internet access is not required. Host may access and use the internet during presentations to push content to viewers, but it is not necessary. Connected viewers are only able to access whatever content the presenter chooses to push out. Should a viewer exit the Circle Host network to reach another website, the presenter is notified and can immediately put that viewer back on track.
The software generates its own hotspot or access point, fully WPA2 encrypted and password protected. Steve Hix, retired Naval Intelligence of over twenty years, is fully confident in the security of the system. In fact, Circle Technology has spent eleven months with a large banking customer that has tested the product vigorously for security. The customer will use Circle Technology software to present to potential clients on the road, and must adhere to strict security guidelines when it comes to data. Circle Technology has passed all of their tests, along with less strict patent tests given by the government.
“It’s very simple to use,” says Boyd. “I can screen-share to your device instead of plugging into a projector or creating a hotspot connected to the internet or printing out slides. I can literally walk into any room, turn my laptop on, and everyone can see what I’m seeing. I can share with them anything on my desktop; not just PDF, not just PowerPoint, I can do anything I want.”
“I’m so pleased with it because it actually helps,” says Hix, “It’s not a product that I want to make for entertainment, or to just make money off of. It really helps anyone giving a presentation. I like that part. If it helps people, it’s important.”
Video: Watch an explanation of Circle Host Software.