Swipe Launches To Save You From Death By PowerPoint

Swipe — not to be confused with software keyboard maker Swype — launches out of private Beta today with a cloud-based tool for creating and consuming slide deck-style presentations. So far, so Prezi, you might say. Or LinkedIn-owned SlideShare, and a number of other competitors.

But where the London startup claims to best existing offerings is not only with its device agnostic approach, the web app uses responsive design to make creation and consumption work across any modern browser, but with the ability to sync the playback of presentations in realtime to enable greater audience participation. The assumption being that, since audience members are too often glued to their laptops, tablets and smartphones anyway, it makes sense to provide an interactive second-screen experience.

And if the audience can be persuaded to follow along on their own devices it opens up the opportunity for Swipe to provide the presenter with audience participation analytics, including click-through rates on any call-to-action, such as a live poll or sign-up form, or when audience members stop following along entirely. From this data, the presenter could hone their presentation skills and slide deck to make it more engaging. In other words, Swipe could help to save us all from death by PowerPoint.

“Since we use a browser and every person has a unique connection, we can track engagement live, understand which part of a presentation is performing well and when the audience gets bored, goes to surf Facebook, or more,” says the company.

“There’s no tool out there to gauge the performance of a live presentation, since it’s all happening on a static projector. We’re working on the live analytics that help show engagement and help presenters become better at presenting.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 17.05.54At launch, Swipe supports a range of file-types for creating your slide deck, including JPEG/PNG/RAW images, PDFs, Apple’s Keynote, and “Markdown”, the simple HTML alternative used by the likes of Squarespace, Ghost, GitHub, and Stack Overflow. In addition, online video from Vimeo and YouTube is supported. You can also connect Swipe to Dropbox for easy file synchronisation.

Notably, however, support for PowerPoint itself is currently missing in action, though I’m told this is being addressed.

Once you’ve assembled your presentation, you’re provided with a unique URL to share the resulting content, which can be kept private or made public for wider distribution. However, the fun really starts when delivering your presentation.

You can present and control your slides live from any compatible device with a network connection, and as you “swipe” through your slides, everyone else who is viewing the same URL on their own device are able to see and interact with the deck in realtime. Well, as long as the conference or meeting WiFi isn’t flakey. But that’s a whole different story.

Swipe is backed by London VC Passion Capital. It’s not the only startup working on a second-screen offering for live presentations. The yet-to-launch Slide.li is a potential competitor, and Presentain and Liveprezo are others.