San Diego, CA, December 4, 2005 -- A team of Canadian wireless executives made Calit2 an important stop on their trade mission to San Diego last week. Nearly 100 researchers, institute staff and members of the San Diego wireless community turned out to meet the leaders of seven Vancouver-based emerging wireless companies at a reception hosted by the Consulate of Canada and Calit2.
The business development mission was organized in partnership with the Wireless Innovation Network of British Columbia (WINBC) and its Southern California counterpart, CommNexus San Diego (previously known as San Diego Telecom Council). "We have a cluster of over 225 wireless development companies in British Columbia," said WINBC President Sang Mah. "We look forward to building stronger relationships between the two cities, and to pushing wireless innovation forward."
In his welcome remarks, Calit2 UCSD Division Director Ramesh Rao said the San Diego wireless community is well aware of innovation north of the border. "Calit2's second most important industry partner, Ericsson, just left town to move its San Diego research center to Montreal," said Rao, an electrical and computer engineering professor in UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering. "Conversely, we hope we'll be able to attract Canadian companies to come to San Diego."
Rao noted that Calit2 "puts together end users with people who like to develop wireless technologies." After the networking portion of the Dec. 1 event, Canadian and San Diego executives were invited to take in a dozen demonstrations of wireless technologies currently under development by faculty and staff researchers as well as graduate and even undergraduate students (including a team of ECE191 students who showcased their WiFi Bullhorn, a wireless loudspeaker that permits remote activation of messages via the wireless Internet).
WINBC's Mah noted that British Columbia's history of wireless innovation dates back to the world's first walkie-talkie, invented in the 1930s by Donald Hings. Speaking to the crowd on the Canadian flag-bedecked fifth floor of Calit2's new building at UCSD, Canada's trade commissioner in San Diego, Rick Moore, noted several other firsts. "The first long-distance phone call was made in Canada, the first overseas wireless transmission was done from Canada, and the first wireless network in North America was in Canada," said Moore. "So there's quite a history there."
Seven companies from British Columbia participated in the trade mission. Their trip included participation at the fifth annual GadgetFest, hosted by CommNexus, on Nov. 30. The Vancouver-based company representatives were invited at the Calit2 reception to brief San Diego executives and researchers about their respective companies, most of which are relatively young.
Iamota -- short for 'I Am Over The Air' -- develops and markets mobile applications and secure online services that help people backup and share their mobile contacts and calendar events. "We're extremely proud to have been selected for this mission," said Pete Smyth, President of Iamota Corp. "As a start-up company, having the opportunity to participate in this business development mission provides Iamota with the vehicle to explore strategic partnerships and funding opportunities within North America's leading wireless cluster."
AdvancedIO Systems is a startup that aims to solve problems in broadband networks. "It takes just over $100 million dollars for a telecom operator to do an incremental upgrade in a core network," said company president Mohammad Darwish. "Using our programmable technology, when they plan the upgrade, they can do it more effectively."
Icron Technologies is in the USB space, including wireless connectivity that will allow consumers to link computers, peripherals and other devices without hard wiring. "In coming years you can unwire your systems," said Icron Vice President Robert Eisses. "Our technology is an enabling technology to make that happen, by making networks USB-capable."
Harman/Becker Automotive Systems-Wavemakers , a University of British Columbia startup until its acquisition by the Washington D.C.-based Harman International in 2003. The company's software optimizes speech recognition in automotive applications by providing echo and noise cancellation (which makes it easier to listen, and improves the reconstruction of spoken commands). Said Senior Manager Richard Sones: "We are a success story between Canada and the United States, and we get involved in all the fun things associated with hands-free systems in the car environment."
Curo Interactive has patents pending on a one-touch, easy-to-operate menu system for mobile phones. "We have created a bridge between the user and complex mobile phone features," said Curo President Jerry Sedmak. "With our technologies, we are a catalyst for OEMs and operators to provide the customer with an easy-to-use experience."
Whitenoise Laboratories is a six-year-old Vancouver company providing high-speed, high-security encryption algorithms for communications, video and other applications. Roy Leahy is the company's president. "We are actively seeking licensees and partners," said Leahy. "Specifically we are focusing on encrypting cell phone conversations and protecting media sent to the newest cell phones."
ComVu Media Chairman William Mutual introduced his company by holding up a camera phone and noting that with the push of a button, he could webcast from the room to anywhere in the world. "It's basically your own TV station in the palm of your hand, and you can transmit your video to as large an audience as you want," said Mutual. Initially the company hopes to sign up bloggers, citizen reporters, family members, friends and corporate professionals to broadcast live events to their communities, and ComVu's chairman said the company is seeking for venture capital.
Calit2's Rao told the audience of wireless executives that the institute itself must increasingly play a role at the international level. "The past has been exciting, but the future requires us to go global," he said, adding that in a few days, he would leave for India with several Calit2-affiliated faculty and staff. "We need to coordinate our research projects because that's what the workplace of tomorrow is all about. It's about teaching and about research, and it's about understanding global markets and then being able to come back and use what we are good at to serve those markets."