Archive for the ‘defense’ tag
Editor’s Notes: John C. Zolper, Ph.D. is the Vice President of Research and Development at Raytheon, an American corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics. So yeah, neat stuff.
I’ve got a riddle for you. What do Blu-ray disks, military radars and LED light bulbs have in common? Chances are, if you work outside of the defense or electronics sectors, you may not easily make the connection. But the common thread is a little-known technology called Gallium Nitride (GaN for short). GaN is evolving rapidly behind the scenes to transform many aspects of modern day life, while also serving vitally important roles within our nation’s military.
GaN is a wide band gap semiconductor material with special properties that are ideal for applications in optoelectronics, and high-power, high-frequency amplifiers. Aerospace and defense innovators have long recognized the critical competitive advantages GaN represents for high frequency electronics – including significant cost, size, weight and power reduction capabilities – and have spent years refining and continuously pushing GaN technology to new limits. For example, GaN is playing an integral role in developing more reliable military radars that can be five times more powerful than traditional systems or only half the size. In recent years, technologists across a number of commercial industries have taken notice of these pioneering innovations for the military, and have started putting GaN to work to power every day technologies in ways that significantly reduce energy costs and environmental impact.
Take the Blu-ray disc, for example. The next generation DVD is changing the way the world watches movies. Blu-ray discs store video and audio data packets in “pits,” or tiny grooves, which are about half the size of those in traditional DVDs. The tiny, highly accurate Blu-ray laser beam – powered by GaN-based violet laser diodes – can precisely read these hyperfine pits. This enables closer spacing of data packets and up to five times the storage capacity of a traditional DVD (roughly 27 GB of data). GaN technology enables higher resolution for the crystal clear imagery modern movie buffs have come to expect. With support from two of the world’s largest PC manufacturers, HP and Dell, Blu-ray technology is poised as the next-generation optical disc format – with potential to increase PC data storage exponentially in the coming years.
You’ve likely seen the light bulb revolution that’s taking place, but may not have known gallium nitride is at the center of it. As traditional, century-old incandescent bulbs are slowly phased out by federal mandate, LED light bulbs represent the future of the lighting industry. A GaN-powered LED light bulb can easily outlast traditional bulbs by several years, while consuming a tenth of the power and reducing CO2 emissions by 90 percent. The Department of Energy recently commended Philips Lighting for creating a LED bulb that would last more than 20 years – an innovative design with the potential to save Americans a combined $3.9 billion in annual energy costs and reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 20 million metric tons. A number of young companies, including startup Sorra, remain focused on driving innovations in cost-effective LED lighting for the masses.
And LCD televisions, backlit by GaN-powered LED lighting, are thinner, lighter and up to 40 percent more energy-efficient than those using CCFL backlighting. In an effort to reduce the price point for consumers, pioneering companies such as Sony are now introducing the next wave of LED televisions, which will use edge-lit LED as the TV’s light source, reducing the number of LED lights required as compared to first generation LED televisions.
For mobile users, GaN can help ensure an affirmative answer to the old question, “Can you hear me now?” The efficiency and resistance to heat and electronic interference of microwave amplifiers built with GaN enables broader, more reliable cellular coverage, while eliminating the need for power-sucking cooling fans required by older cell phone tower technologies. RFHIC Corp of Suwon, South Korea, which makes GaN-based radio frequency and microwave components for telecommunications and broadcasting industries, estimates U.S. carriers could save approximately $2 billion per year by using GaN technology for their wireless infrastructures. Large carriers, including Sprint, have already launched GaN-powered towers in several markets.
While GaN-powered technologies quickly evolve to alter many aspects of modern day life, GaN electronics are expected to play an increasingly more important role within our nation’s military systems. Raytheon has been awarded a contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop next-generation GaN electronic devices bonded to diamond substrates, which is expected to triple current GaN circuit capabilities. The application of a markedly more efficient GaN-on-diamond material is expected to significantly benefit next-generation radar, communications and electronic warfare systems that employ GaN-based radio frequency devices.
When you think of how much technology is empowered by a tiny microchip, it’s not hard to imagine how GaN will rapidly accelerate innovation across numerous industries in the years ahead. Undoubtedly, future innovators will find new ways to apply GaN technology to our iPads and smartphones, bringing the networked world to consumers’ fingertips more quickly and effortlessly. Companies from start-ups to larger enterprises looking to revolutionize their industries would do well to consider how GaN can drive innovation within their business models. In the meantime, rest assured, innovators, investors and military engineers are already hard at work, staging the next technical revolution.
In a response to 868 public comments regarding its Apple e-book price fixing case, the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday released a statement saying it will not modify the terms of a proposed settlement and alleges that Amazon’s dominant market position has been overstated.
Baird Equity Research turned a lot of heads this morning when it released survey findings that suggest that developers are fleeing RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system.
But there’s a problem with the survey: RIM’s top developer relations people don’t believe it.
“I was shocked because the numbers in the report do not jell with what we’re seeing in the real world,” RIM developer relations vice president Alec Saunders said in a blog post. “The report contradicts much of what we are seeing and hearing in our developer community,” he said.
So what is Saunders seeing that counters the survey? For one, he points to RIM’s app developer base, which has grown 157 percent in the last year. (Note that this a percentage, not a hard number.) The company is also seeing growth with its BlackBerry app catalog, which has added 15,000 apps since January.
Saunders also points to the ongoing BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour, an event that attracts developers from all over the world. None of this, he says, supports the notion that developer interest in Blackberry’s future is waning.
The problem with Saunders’s defense is that he doesn’t directly contradict the results from the Baird Equity Research survey, which focuses largely on how developers feel about the future of the platform. RIM’s developer numbers may be growing in the short term, but many developers don’t appear to be confident that that growth is going to continue.
VentureBeat reached out to Saunders for an interview, but he wasn’t available.
In its defense, RIM is likely frustrated by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to anything it does, which is why it’s not a big surprise that the company is publicly taking the offensive today.
But Saunders’s comments risk making him sound too much like RIM CEO Thorstein Heins, who recently went on record to say that he doesn’t see anything wrong with his languishing company. It doesn’t take much sleuthing to see that there are some problems with RIM, and lagging developer support is likely one of them.
Filed under: dev
As we all know, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is totally about innovation. Just ask patent trolls like Patent Group LLC or Select Retrieval … or the company they sued, Build.com. Or American entrepreneurs who are redirecting $30 billion a year from research and development to patent defense.
Nathan Myrvold would probably agree.
That’s why it makes perfect sense that the first satellite office in the USPTO’s entire 220 years of existence is opening in Detroit, Michigan.
Yeah, you heard that right. Detroit.
I suppose Silicon Valley is rather hard to get office space in. And Austin is fairly warmish. Seattle … kinda rainy, no? New York? Already covered by the D.C. office, perhaps. L.A.? Too many trashy reality TV types prancing around on the streets, maybe.
The USPTO is legally required to set up at least three satellite offices within the next three years — that’s one of the stipulations of the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011. AIA was primarily about patent reform and removing barriers to innovation.
One identified barrier is the typical three-year wait for patent approval. That’s just too long, and more examiners — in more offices — could help speed approvals of good patents and rejections of bad ones.
But … why Detroit?
The USPTO says that “the city of Detroit is an important national innovation center.” Who knew?
While declining to be named, a manager at the already-operational-though-not officially-launched Detroit office told me “we’re still looking at a concept of operations for the future offices.” I’m not sure what that means, but he also said that in the next couple of weeks the USPTO would finalize decisions and start talking publicly about other satellite offices.
Even a post pumping Detroit as an innovation center just two years ago admits that “there’s no question that Detroit falls short on many of the ingredients that propel tech-company growth.” And CBS Detroit’s Great Lakes Innovation Report contains sizzling nuggets like adult literacy classes and Office 365 events.
That said, there’s no denying a history of innovation in a city that still hosts two of the largest U.S. companies: Ford and GM. The city has seen the invention of the assembly line, the traffic signal, guerrilla marketing, and much more. Ford Sync, an innovative implementation of technology in cars, is from Detroit.
And DARPA recently put a TechShop into Detroit, taking advantage of large numbers of mechanical engineers and scientists in the Michigan area.
But a complete innovation ecosystem is the result of serial inventors, a rich array of angel and venture investors, in-migration bringing new people and ideas, mature large companies, and universities regularly churning out new talent. And most innovation now is happening in web and internet technology — not historically a Detroit stronghold.
So surely there were better places to start.
Image credit: Spirit of America/ShutterStock
Apple has spoken out in defense of its decision to remove its products from the EPEAT environmental rating program by noting that it takes a “comprehensive approach” to making environmentally-responsible products.
Google and Sprint have submitted briefs in defense of Samsung and opposing a preliminary sales ban on the Galaxy Nexus smartphone that was recently granted to Apple.
Representative Darrell Issa (CA-49) signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a broad online document that aims to keep the internet free and open. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is the first elected official to sign it.
Issa has been an outspoken opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Last month, he drafted “A Digital Citizen’s Bill of Rights.”
A Digital Citizen’s Bill of Rights
I believe that individuals possess certain fundamental rights. Government should exist to protect those rights against those who would violate them. That is the revolutionary principle at the heart of the American Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. No one should trample our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s why the Bill of Rights is an American citizen’s first line of defense against all forms of tyranny.
But where can a digital citizen turn for protection against the powerful? This question lay at the heart of the fight to stop SOPA and PIPA and keep the web open. While I do not have all the answers, the remarkable cooperation we witnessed in defense of an open Internet showed me three things. First, government is flying blind, interfering and regulating without understanding even the basics. Second, we have a rare opportunity to give government marching orders on how to treat the Internet, those who use it and the innovation it supports. And third, we must get to work immediately because our opponents are not giving up.
We need to frame a digital Bill of Rights. This is my first draft. I need your help to get this right, so I published it here in Madison for everyone to comment, criticize and collaborate. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to work together to keep the web open.
Representative Issa makes his stand for Internet freedom.
SOPA did not reach a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) did not pass the U.S. Senate and the European Parliament rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). However, this does not mean these initiatives, or some future version of them, are dead. That’s where the Declaration comes in.
We stand for a free and open Internet.
We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:
Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.
With backers from the ACLU, Mozilla, Y Combinator and reddit to Cheezburger, Inc. and the Harry Potter Alliance, the Declaration boasts an eclectic but impressive group of signatures. The document is very broad and vague, most likely by design. As the Atlantic Wire points out, this language makes it very difficult for the government and citizens behind the Declaration to reach a solution. Perhaps having a government official cross sides and sign the Declaration will help move things along.
(Image via Deviant Art/Jason Heuser)
Facebook and Yahoo are calling off their heated patent lawsuit battle, and in fact have just agreed to cross-license their entire patent portfolios to each other without money changing hands, sources directly familiar with the deal tell me. Sources also confirmed that the two web giants are entering into an ad sales partnership that will let Yahoo show Like buttons in its ads, as first reported by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD this morning.
Update 1:15pm PST 7/6: Facebook has just confirmed the full patent portfolio cross-license agreement as well as the ad sales and distribution partnership in a press release.
However, Swisher noted the companies would only cross-license “some key patents”, and Facebook might have to pay to license others from Yahoo. The patent deal is actually much larger. It encompasses their entire intellectual property stockpile such that they won’t have to pay be able to use each other’s patents, and won’t be able to sue each other over them either.
In the press release Facebook confirms:
“Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) today announced that they have entered into definitive agreements that launch a new advertising partnership, extend and expand distribution arrangements, and settle all pending patent claims between the companies.”
Regarding the ad partnership, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg explained “Combining the premium content and reach of Yahoo! as the world’s leading digital media company with Facebook provides branded advertisers with unmatched opportunity.”
Today’s revelations should bolster investor confidence in both companies going forward, though Yahoo’s may have hoped for a big pay-out from Facebook.
A Mutually Beneficial End To The Patent War
Yahoo sprung the lawsuit on Facebook in the months leading up to its IPO in a move Swisher says was spearheaded by disgraced former CEO Scott Thompson. It sought to extort a massive settlement from Facebook before the IPO so it could avoid potential investors holding back in worry of the case’s outcome.
But rather than settle Facebook bought huge stores of patents from AOL / Microsoft and IBM and countersued with 10 patents, the same number it was sued by Yahoo with. I judged many of Facebook’s patents to be more concrete than Yahoo’s, setting up a formidable defense. That defense seems to have worked.
Swisher reports that interim CEO Ross Levinsohn reached out to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg after Thompson was deposed in hopes of coming to an agreement.
Today that agreement sees Facebook emerging without having to pay any direct settlement, though it did spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the patent caches to defend itself.
New Ad Sales and Content Partnerships
The ad sales partnership centers around the two companies working together to secure big ad buys and spread placements across their properties. This way, if say Ford was having a massive launch for a new car, Facebook and Yahoo could help the auto-maker distribute ads across Facebook.com, Facebook’s mobile site, and all of Yahoo’s news sites, portals, and utilities for maximum impact.
In the press release, Facebook explained:
“Yahoo! and Facebook will also work together to bring Yahoo!’s large media event coverage to Facebook users by collaborating on social integrations on the Yahoo! site. Going forward, Yahoo! and Facebook have agreed to work more closely and collaborate together on multiple tent-pole and anchor events annually over the next several years to provide unparalleled experiences for consumers and world-class sponsorship opportunities for advertisers.”
Facebook and Yahoo worked together on ads in during the social network’s early days, but haven’t had a sales partnership in place for years.
Sources tell me there will be some new partnership around allowing Yahoo to include Like buttons in their ads, but details haven’t been hammered out yet. That could let Yahoo sell ads for brands hoping to score more Likes (essentially subscriptions to news feed marketing messages) for the Facebook brand Pages.
Meanwhile, the long-standing contact sharing partnership between Yahoo and Facebook will continue, sources confirmed. It allows users that sign up for Facebook to automatically import that Yahoo Mail address book to make it easy to find and become friends with those they email with. Facebook and Google once had a similar partnership for allowing contact importing from Gmail, but Google famously cut it off because Facebook wouldn’t allow users the “data portability” to export their friends’ email addresses.
A Second-Chance For Yahoo
The ongoing patent battle was costly, both in dollars spent and attention fractured. Today’s agreement will help the two avoid big legal fees and let them concentrate on innovating, rather than who owns the rights to vague concepts around social networking and advertising.
The new ads partnership could help Yahoo, whose sales have been ailing. Last year, Yahoo signed a big ad sales partnership with AOL and Microsoft to allow them to sell placements on each other’s properties. Thanks to this new alliance with Facebook, Yahoo can now more firmly concentrate on beating Google…something Facebook is sure to be OK with.
However, Thompson promised Yahoo directors a huge pay out from a Facebook settlement — and that’s not what happened. Instead, Yahoo critically damaged its reputation by going on the patent offensive. And since today’s agreement comes with no pot of gold passed from Yahoo to Facebook, Thompson’s attack has proven much less fruitful than expected. Now eyes will be on Wall Street, which may boost Facebook for emerging without giving up a massive settlement, and may ding Yahoo for failing to produce a pay-day.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Orbitz is recommending higher priced hotels to Mac users than to PC users. Apple fans immediately took to Twitter with their outrage and the media was ablaze with follow-up articles condemning Orbitz’s discrimination against Mac users.
Well here’s one more article. However, this article is not going to warn businesses of the ills of treating customers differently, as you may have assumed from the title. No, this article celebrates it.
In defense of the travel site, Orbitz’s PR firm released a statement highlighting what the company considered an overlooked fact that Orbitz does not show Mac and PC users the same hotel at different prices. The company blamed The Wall Street Journal for burying this fact in the middle of the article, ultimately misleading many readers. However, people seemed to understand this was the case from the very beginning, and yet were still outraged that Orbitz is even recommending pricier hotels to Mac users. Here’s why Orbitz is actually doing Mac users a favor.
While it’s true that not all Mac users prefer nicer hotels, it’s very important to note that Orbitz found Mac users were in fact spending 30% more a night on hotels and were 40% more likely to book four- or five- star hotels back in October, before they implemented this strategy. That means many Mac users are indeed more interested in and looking for pricier hotels.
The point is, Orbitz identified that Mac users had this pre-existing preference, and then simply made it easier for them to find what they were looking for. Don’t we all prefer a more personalized, relevant shopping experience?
If you’re a regular at my watch store and I know you have a preference for Rolexes, I will show you Rolexes when you walk in the door. For another customer, I may begin by showcasing our selection of Movado watches. Both customers are free to view all of the watches in the store and will be charged the same prices, yet I’ve used the knowledge I have of each customer to recommend the products I believe they will be most interested in. This is essentially what Orbitz is doing. This is personalization.
Still not convinced? Consider this statistic: 54% of consumers are ready to “break up” with brands due to “the barrage of irrelevant messages, low-value rewards, and impersonal engagements”, according to research by CMO Council. And yet, 47% of marketers do not take any action based on consumer preferences. That means simply paying attention to your customers and delivering a tailored experience nearly puts you ahead of the pack, and doing it well makes you exceptional. To that end, I say Bravo, Orbitz.
The Journal article was focused on only one factor — type of computer — that influences Orbitz’s recommendations to users. However, as any data scientist will tell you, using only one piece of data about a visitor is insufficient. Companies need to take a more holistic approach to personalization. Orbitz has said they use other information to determine results, such as your past purchases and location.
So, for all you Mac users who are on a budget, Orbitz hasn’t forgotten you. If you are a Mac user, but have previously always chosen budget hotels, Orbitz probably won’t recommend the higher end hotels to you, though it may do so for other Mac users. Each customer will show indications of her preferences, but it is up to the company to capture those preferences and deliver the appropriate experience.
And that’s personalization. The more a company knows about its customers, the better experience it can provide. The companies, like Orbitz, that are recognizing this early on will be the ones to reap the rewards.
Elie Khoury is Co-Founder and CEO of Woopra, a customer-centric web analytics service that enables companies to target and personalize web experiences.
Filed under: VentureBeat
Super stealthy security startup, Shape Security, has recruited Google’s ex-”click-fraud czar” Shuman Ghosemajumder to its executive team where he’ll be charged with leading the company’s marketing, strategy and partnerships efforts.
Mountain View-based Shape is said to be developing a new category of web defense products that take a different approach to security that shift costs from defenders to hackers. It hopes to achieve this via its “military-grade technology” that doesn’t rely on past attack signatures, and instead forces hackers to “spend more and more to achieve less and less.”
The startup’s founders come from Google, the Department of Defense and major defense contractors, while the Google connection doesn’t end there. Shape’s backers include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, as part of a $6 million Series A round, co-led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Accel Partner Peter Wagner, Sequoia Limited Partner Guarav Garg, Vodafone CTO Chris Burke, Baseline Ventures, and unnamed executives at LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook also participated.
But back to Ghosemajumder, who brings some serious clout to Shape. During his time at Google, he won two ‘Google Founders Awards’ for his entrepreneurial and technical achievements. Known affectionately as as the “click-fraud czar”, Ghosemajumder was an early product manager on Google’s AdSense offering and he was also part of the team that launched Gmail and co-founded Google’s Privacy Council.