India is morphing into a global R&D hub, but can it ever take on Silicon Valley?

15 11 2009

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When Americans think of the Indian technology sector, they still perceive a nation of call center workers and low-level computer programmers administering databases and updating websites. But while the West was sleeping, Indian IT morphed into a giant R&D machine. Indian companies that started out doing call center and low-level IT work have climbed the value chain to become outsourced providers of critical R&D in sophisticated areas such as semiconductor design, aerospace, automotive, network equipment and medical devices.

This is happening as multi-nationals set up their own R&D operations in India and partner with local shops. Both the Palm Pre smart phone and the Amazon Kindle, two of the hottest consumer electronics devices on the market, have key components designed in India. Intel designed its six-core Xeon processor in India. IBM has over 100,000 employees in India. A large number of these are building Big Blue’s most sophisticated software products. Cisco is developing cutting edge networking technologies for futuristic “intelligent cities” in Bangalore. Adobe, Cadence, Oracle, Microsoft and most of the large software companies are developing mainstream products in India.

Equally important are the arrival of Indian multi-nationals who are tackling global markets, such as Tata with its dirt cheap Nano car that the company is now positioning for a European market entry and Reva, which recently announced it was planning to build an electric car factory in New York state to address the U.S. market for electric vehicles.

What has been missing to date in India, however, is early stage venture activity and the type of grass-roots entrepreneurism that is the hallmark of American capitalism and Silicon Valley. In that respect China is way ahead of India with many startups taking advantage of huge government incentives and reeling in talented native Chinese returnees to serve as CEOs and CTOs. Note that Kaifu Lee, formerly Google’s top guy in China, was able to launch a $100 million startup incubator focusing entirely on the mobile sector — and he was flooded with business plans within days of opening his doors in the Middle Kingdom.

On my recent trip to India I started to see new signs of life in tech entrepreneurship.  Many of the startups that Sarah Lacy and I met were really smart and hungry. Some were even doing things better than their Silicon Valley counterparts. Not all of these startups are developing breakthrough technologies but many of them are solving problems that U.S. companies have thus far failed to solve and doing it with fewer resources.

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One of the most interesting companies I met is in the mundane business of developing offset printer ink. Their ink is made from vegetable oil and is entirely bio-degradable. The offset printing industry consumes 1 million tons of petroleum products and emits 500,000 tons of volatile organic compounds every year. An IIT-Delhi incubated startup called EnNatura developed a printing ink which emits no volatile compounds and is washable. And the overall cost of their solution will be significantly less than all present compounds when produced at scale. I can see a company like this growing into a billion dollar global business.

Another interesting company was LiveMedia. This is an out-of-home advertising company that has 4,500 screens in 2,200 destinations with a total reach of 50 million people. Of course, you can find exactly these sorts of TV screens in thousands of places across the U.S. Unfortunately, it has been very hard to make real money selling advertising on these networks. LiveMedia appears to have cracked that by creating specialized content that is more engaging and interactive than a box droning CNN or the Disney Channel. LiveMedia content includes games, quizzes, horoscopes, a few short animations, and other content that is both cheap to produce and easy to play along with or understand. LiveMedia has also perfected context-relevant advertising spots keyed to the crowds at the screen location.

LiveMedia is in the process of building out a partnership with Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs India that would give the network even more interactive capabilities. Bell Labs has developed a content management and routing system, dubbed Mango, that makes it much easier and efficient to deliver high-bandwidth, high-quality video and interactive content over existing networks. In the developing world, everyone wants a TiVO-like capability to share, store and manage content. But existing GPRS or EDGE-based cell networks are not up to snuff. And the broadband infrastructure still lags behind that of the most developed telecom networks in places like Japan, Korea and Scandanavia.  A product like Mango is tailor-made for VC investment to get it out of the lab and into a spin-off company.

This is partly why so many U.S. venture capital shops have opened up branches in India. In fact, the two lead investors in LiveMedia are both U.S. venture capitalists including the respected Valley firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. But India lags in home-grown venture capital activity. As I have previously discussed, VCs follow the innovation. So the lack of native VC in India is notable in that it implies a critical mass of activity remains lacking, as well.

For example, in the first nine months of 2008, total early stage VC investments in India totaled $678 million, according to the Global India Venture Capital Association. In the U.S. over that same period early stage investments tallied $5.2 billion according to the U.S. National Venture Capital Association – and that number is not entirely reflective of the real situation. The economic downturn hit the U.S. much harder than the Subcontinent and VC activity in the U.S. fell faster and harder. Regardless, a 10-fold difference between early stage venture activity clearly illustrates the capital is not there yet.

So when will there be enough innovative startups to support an explosion in venture capital? I’d argue, sooner than you realize. During my week in India I spoke to close to 100 startups. A few of them had products or prototypes that would easily compete in Silicon Valley. Some of the leading lights of the legacy Indian IT giants are also moving quickly into VC. Infosys founder Narayan Murthy recently sold millions of dollars of shares in the company in order to launch a venture capital fund targeting investments in India.

The dynamics of entrepreneurship are the same in India as in America. Company founders usually come from the ranks of experienced business executives and are middle-aged. They get tired of working for others and want to make an impact and build wealth before they get too old. Given that there are now hundreds of thousands of R&D workers in India who are gaining valuable experience and are getting old, it is simply a matter of time before they begin to hatch their entrepreneurial plans. After all, their colleagues who migrated to the U.S. now start nearly one in six of Silicon Valley’s tech firms.

I’ll bet that in 5 years, if you stacked up a TechCrunch 50 of Indian start ups versus a comparable number of U.S. startups, it would be a pretty even match. That’s pretty amazing considering the relatively short length of time that the Indian startup scene has existed. And it’s a good lesson for America that the barriers to starting a company are lower than ever before—and some ambitious engineer in India will eat your lunch if you don’t get your prototype built and perfected ASAP.





Triad’s DesignerSeries Invisible Loudspeakers Hit the Market in November – Completely Concealed, Grants Total Interior Design Flexibility

28 10 2009

Next month, custom solution provider Triad Speakers, Inc. will begin delivering dealers its DesignerSeries invisible speakers. Completely hidden and sealed behind walls or ceilings, these speakers are ideal for distributed audio and surround applications, and wet or humid areas such as pools or bathrooms. MSRP ranges from $550 to $1,050 per speaker.

The DesignerSeries speaker panels consist of a powder coated aluminum frame, an extremely rigid aluminum honeycomb core with paper skin surface and electro mechanical drive devices. The panels require only 25.5 mm of mounting depth; they are designed to fit easily between the wall studs in typical home construction. The paper skin provides a high bond surface for excellent adhesion to plaster skims.

he electro mechanical drive devices are transducers comprised of the finest rare earth neodymium-iron-boron magnets. The transducer, which functions much like a magnet and voice coil in a traditional loudspeaker system, is attached to the aluminum honeycomb core which serves as the vibrating element to generate sound waves. The principle is similar to that of a piano or guitar wherein the strings are amplified by the soundboard.

”The sound generated by using this vibrating soundboard technique offers truly remarkable off-axis listening,” says Triad Speakers Director of Sales and Marketing Paul Scarpelli, adding “this allows for extremely flexible placement in distributed audio zones and makes the DesignerSeries an excellent choice as a surround speaker in media or cinema rooms where placing traditional surround speakers would otherwise be very difficult.”

The DesignerSeries consist of three monaural and two stereo versions. The models use either one (small rooms), two (small/medium rooms) or four transducers (large rooms) each per panel providing 95, 99 and 105 dB maximum loudness respectively. All are capable of frequency response from 100Hz – 20 kHz and must be used with dual channel analog 120Hz filters with limiters. For deeper bass response, a Triad InWall Subwoofer may be added.

All DesignerSeries models measure 1-5/8″ deep, 13-5/8″ wide and 17-3/4″ high. Back boxes for solid walls (plaster) and hollow walls (stud and drywall construction) are also available.

MSRP for the monaural versions (small, medium and large rooms) are $550, $750 and $1,050 (each). MSRP for the stereo versions (small and medium rooms) are $740 and $1,040 (each).

Triad is offering two 120Hz high-pass filters: the HPF-2 is shelf-mounted for use with a pair of speakers and the HPF-8 is rack-mounted, designed for use with up to four pair of speakers (MSRP $100 and $730 respectively).





Mobile Phone Symphonia by Vodaphone New Zealand

24 10 2009

I do not normally indulge myself in frivolous stuff …… but only a bunch of brilliant nuts in New Zealand would attempt something like this.  1000 Mobile Phones and 2000 test messages and you have the 1812 Overture.  Go Kiwi’s.

And below is how they thought it up, put it together, and made it work…….





Large DVI Matrix from Gefen Lets You Switch and Distribute 16 Computers to 16 Displays

23 10 2009

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Connectivity solutions provider Gefen today announced the release of its new 16×16 DVI Matrix, delivering a one-to-one or one-to-many video distribution. Access is controlled by the front-panel, RS-232 connection, IR remote or an IP local area network. The front panel display conveniently lists status and switching information.

This matrix switcher supports 1920×1200 resolutions, and offers an amazingly fast switch with very low cross-talk between adjacent channels. It can be rack mounted and combined with any of Gefen’s DVI extension solutions to deliver high resolutions to remote displays.

The Gefen 16×16 DVI Matrix can be used in a variety of applications, including recording studios with a need to command and control multiple workstations. It is ideal for digital signage, large presentations in corporate, medical, education and broadcast facilities, and for video walls.

via [press release]





No lamps, no worries – projectiondesign® ships new FL32 RealLED™ DLP® projector

20 10 2009

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Norway’s projectiondesign is now shipping the FL32 projector – the company’s first model to feature solid-state LED illumination. The FL32 is the first professional LED projector on the market that is fully configurable for its intended application.

The FL32 features ReaLED™ technology that combines long life LED illumination technology with patented projectiondesign optics for up to and estimated 100,000 hours of low-maintenance, worry-free operation. It is especially suitable for front- and rear-projection applications such as command and control, simulation and visualization, and any project that requires high-resolution imaging and low maintenance.

Anders Løkke, International Marketing & Communications Manager, projectiondesign, comments: “The FL32 has received a tremendous reception since its launch in June at InfoComm 09 and we are delighted to be shipping the model so soon after unveiling it. The challenging economic climate, together with the pressure to reduce energy consumption of all AV equipment, means there simply could not be a better time to launch this revolutionary product.”

Available in a choice of either 1080p or WUXGA resolution, the FL32 delivers optimum performance regardless of orientation or mounting position, giving integrators a wider range of installation options. When compared with other illumination technologies, the projector’s ReaLED system – a true emmisive light source technology – reduces occurrence of motion-smear and blur, along with reduction of color separation and image processing-related artifacts.

“When we say ‘no lamps, no worries’, we mean exactly that,” concludes Løkke. “The FL32 projector delivers incredibly high color accuracy and image performance, while removing the need to replace consumables during the projector’s working life. Image projection will never be the same again.”

via [PRESS RELEASE]





Extron 72×72 High Performance, Modular Fiber Optic Matrix Switcher Now Shipping

17 10 2009

Extron Electronics is pleased to announce the introduction and immediate availability of the FOX 4G Matrix 7200, a high performance, modular fiber optic matrix switcher for complete, end-to-end digital A/V signal transmission and routing over fiber optic cable. It is expandable from 8×8 up to 72×72, and supports digital switching at rates up to 4.25 Gbps. With hot-swappable I/O boards, real-time system monitoring, and redundant, hot-swappable power supplies, the FOX 4G Matrix 7200 delivers highly reliable, enterprise-wide switching of fiber optic A/V and control signals for any mission-critical environment.

“The FOX 4G Matrix 7200 is designed for facilities requiring a highly robust, dependable switching system using a fiber optic infrastructure,” says Casey Hall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Extron. “Our high speed digital architecture assures the utmost in signal performance and accuracy.”

The FOX 4G Matrix 7200 is compatible with the FOX Series of fiber optic digital transmitters and receivers. It accepts and routes standard definition video, high resolution computer-video, DVI, and multi-rate SDI. The modular board design features nine board slots that can accept FOX 4G Matrix I/O Boards in multimode and singlemode versions. Also available for the FOX 4G Matrix 7200 is an 8×8 HD-SDI I/O board with BNC connections, allowing it to directly accept and route multi-rate SDI signals. These signals can also be routed to and from the fiber optic inputs and outputs of the matrix switcher, for long distance transmission to and from FOX HD-SDI Fiber Optic Extenders for Multi-Rate SDI.

A host of familiar, integrator-friendly matrix switcher features are available, including I/O grouping, rooming, and memory presets. For optimum performance and reliability, a real-time monitoring system continuously provides self-diagnostics of the I/O boards, fiber links, power supplies, internal fans, and general functions of the switcher. The FOX 4G Matrix 7200 can be remotely configured and operated through the RS-232 serial control port, IP Link® Ethernet control, and the optional FPC 5000 Front Panel Controller and MKP 3000 X-Y Remote Control Panel.

via [press release] www.extron.com





Cables To Go to Offer Wireless Adapter for VGA and Audio Signals

1 10 2009

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Cables To Go, a leading provider of high-performance cabling and connectivity solutions, announced a wireless adapter for transmitting VGA and audio signals. Wireless VGA with Integrated Audio from Cables To Go adds audio capabilities to the company’s award-winning Wireless USB to VGA Adapter Kit. This innovation allows users to wirelessly display audio and video content on computer monitors, projectors or televisions up to 30 feet away.

The Wireless VGA with Integrated Audio is certified by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) for compatibility with other standards-based Wireless USB products. It provides a highly secure wireless connection through Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) technology, which makes it ideal for classroom or conference room presentations or to display content from a laptop to a home entertainment system.

“We have seen a huge demand for our Wireless USB to VGA Adapter, and the one additional feature that was most requested was to the ability to wirelessly transmit the audio signal as well,” said Bill Diederich, president of Lastar, parent company of Cables To Go. “With the Wireless VGA with Integrated Audio we are able to provide quick and easy wireless connectivity that supports multiple users in training, classroom, conference room and home theater settings.”

Additional features of the Wireless VGA with Integrated Audio from Cables To Go include:

• Wireless transmission of high-resolution UXGA and WSXGA video up to 30 feet

• Wireless transmission of 3.5mm stereo audio signal up to 30 feet

• Wireless display connection can be shared by up to six computers

• Video streaming up to 720p resolution

• Supports extended desktop and dual monitor screen modes

• Supports native mode for playback of high-resolution video

The Wireless VGA with Integrated Audio is based on chipsets from Realtek and DisplayLink, which provide premium performance and reliability.

via [press release]