SALT LAKE CITY -- Evidence of an explosion of interest and technology is the best way to describe the RootsTech genealogy conference, which runs through today at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.
What started out last year in its first gathering as the U.S.' largest conference combining genealogy and technology has nearly doubled in size.
This year, 4,200 registered attendees hail from two dozen countries and nearly every state in the union, said Dennis Brimhall, president and CEO of Family Search International, one of three organizations sponsoring the event.
"There is an exciting vibe," Brimhall said. "A lot of it is brought to us by the tech people. Many of them are young. They are excited. They can see that everything they do is new and fresh."
And plenty of new developments were announced at the conference.
Perhaps the most noteworthy was a company -- brightsolid -- from the United Kingdom announcing it will enter the U.S. genealogy market.
"We're the second-biggest company in the world," said Chris van der Kuyl, brightsolid CEO. "It seemed a bit strange that we weren't here."
Brightsolid also announced a pay-as-you-go membership, which allows free access to various records with charges only for downloading documents or photos.
To access records managed by brightsolid, area residents may go to censusrecords.com. Other company sites are on the horizon.
Brightsolid and Ancestry.com also are conference sponsors.
Also announced was a new Family Search application that will allow volunteers to complete digital indexing of names from digitized public records on their mobile devices.
The application now is available on Android phones and is expected to be up for iPhones and iPads within a few days.
"I was in a session where they announced the new application," said Scott Flinders, project manager at Family Search Indexing.
"Four people around me stopped paying attention and installed it. ... There seems to be a lot of interest."
Flinders said indexers have had to download a batch of names at once, taking about an hour to complete, but now, with the app, they will be able to do one name at a time, which can be done in just a few seconds.
Doubling the 100,000 volunteers who perform indexing on the Family Search website is a prime focus for the company's efforts at the conference.
Signs dot the event with directions to the1940census.com website where people may sign up to participate in indexing the 1940 U.S. census that will be released digitally April 2.
It's the first time a census has been released digitally.
Don Anderson, senior vice president of patron services at Family Search, said that fact alone makes the census interesting to many people who may not have been interested before.
"If you walk back 50 years and looked at the census, it was a complicated process," he said. "You had to start by knowing where they lived."
Officials hope with the help of another 100,000 volunteers, they'll have the census translated into a tool where names and other information can be searched electronically within a short time of its release.
But then they hope to keep those volunteers working with them for other projects.
"We need them now and after, too," said Mike Judson, manager of indexing workforce development at Family Search.
He said of records owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "The granite record vaults are full of great information, and none of it is useful now."