Street Games

Roland Piquepaille’s Technology Trends points out NetAttack “a new type of indoor/outdoor Augmented Reality game that makes the actual physical environment an inherent part of the game itself.”

Developed by students and researchers from Fraunhofer FIT, the initial experiments use volunteers on their campus.

In the game, two teams are fighting to destroy the central database of a virtual big company. Both teams have indoor players, who control the game from their laptop computers, and outdoor players, equipped with GPS receivers, trackers, sensors and video cameras. Broad positioning is taken from GPS. Precision is significantly enhanced based on computer vision. An orientation sensor on the agent’s helmet determines with great precision where s/he looks.

The hidden 3D items are distributed over the campus (above). Currently the outdoor experience is limited to a designated area on the campus that provides sufficient wireless network coverage. On several occasions during the year, the game will also be made available to the public.

First WiMax Chips?

Fujitsu Microelectronics America and Wi-LAN, a provider of broadband wireless gear, today announced their joint goal to produce the world’s first WiMAX Certified* System-on-Chip (SoC). Engineering samples are planned for the fall of 2004, and the complete system is expected to be available for WiMAX Forum* conformance and interoperability testing in the first half of 2005.

“The timeline that Wi-LAN and FMA have set for first-to-market WiMAX Certified systems dovetails nicely with the WiMAX Forum’s timeline for certification and interoperability testing,” said Dr. Sayed-Amr El-Hamamsy, Wi-LAN’s president and CEO. “In spite of the hype about early equipment availability from other vendors, the fact is that there can be no certified products before WiMAX conformance specifications are established.

Fujitsu and Wi-Lan have been co-developing the 802.16 chipset since September, 2002, far ahead of Intel, so it would be no surprise if Fujitsu beats Intel to the punch.

Wi-Lan reviews developments in 802.16:

  • In 2001 IEEE released the IEEE 802.16 standard, the first of several broadband WirelessMAN standards. Since then the IEEE has continued to add to that base standard. It has done so through a set of amendments, each with a different focus.

  • In September 2003 during the 27th session of the IEEE 802.16 Working Group, a new project, 802.16-REVd, was approved. Prior to this, the complete IEEE 802.16 standard was comprised of three documents within the IEEE 802.16 group of standards; “IEEE Std 802.16-2001″, “IEEE Std 802.16c-2002″, and “IEEE Std 802.16a-2003″. The standard commonly known as “16a” is in fact an amendment to the “IEEE 802.16-2001″ and is not a stand alone standard.

  • The output of project 802.16-REVd, its official designation, will be a new revision of IEEE Std 802.16, incorporating the three pre-existing documents plus work currently underway in the 802.16 Task Group d (802.16d). When it is published, as IEEE Std 802.16-2004, the three currently existing components will become obsolete and will be withdrawn.

IEEE 802.16e is another amendment, which will address adding mobility to the 802.16 standard.

The new revision “D” of the standard brings two key additions to .16a. (1) a sub-channelization scheme that allows chipmakers to use smaller, cheaper power amplifiers, and (2) hooks for using antenna diversity techniques such as multiple input, multiple output antennas. MIMO antennas might double the range or speed.

About five chip makers are currently planning first-generation WiMax chips:

The chairman of the WiMAX Forum 2-11GHz technical working group expects to complete conformance specifications in November 2004. Wi-LAN believes it is the only company that has commercially implemented 256 sub-carrier OFDM, which is the physical layer technology supported by the WiMAX Forum. Wi-LAN believes the early 2005 LIBRA broadband wireless system, incorporating the Fujitsu chip will be the first system to be WiMAX Certified.

The first 802.16a-like implementation in the United States was installed last year in Portland, Oregon, by VeriLAN using Wi-Lan gear (which is field upgradable to full 802.16a/d compliance). It is used to feed a Vivato phased array which covers downtown Portland.

Verilan provided DailyWireless with free broadband wireless service for a Wireless Bike Project this weekend. The wireless bike will provide WiFi access at the opening of the 5.8 mile Interstate Max light rail line. Verilan’s 802.11 service, on the KGW television tower, provides a strong signal at the Max northern terminal, some 12-15 miles from the tower.

Google’s IPO

Google filed for a prospective $2.7 billion sale, valuing the company in the $20-25 billion range. There will be two classes of stock, one with supervoting rights (ten times those of regular shareholders), which keeps power squarely in the founders’ hands. Google will auction all of its shares.

John Battelle says, “Having seen how the quest for IPO glory can ruin a company, it’s good to remember that an IPO is just the beginning of something, not an end in itself, though sometimes folks caught up in it can forget that. It certainly happened to us at Wired, for a while we thought we were reinventing the entire IPO process – we even redesigned the prospectus to look like our magazine. But high-minded claims of reinventing how the business world will work rarely come to pass, and it’s never in anyone’s interest to make such claims in the first place. I’ve seen it, trust me”.

“The five-page, Warren Buffet-inspired letter which opens Google’s S1, entitled “An Owner’s Manual” for Google Shareholders, was written in the first person by Larry Page. I can only imagine the eyes rolling at Kleiner Perkins, Morgan Stanley, and the rest of the veterans as the founders insisted on this, and I can imagine this letter is what broke the camel’s back last week and engendered the “let’s not get too cute” comment in the New York Times.

The letter, which is unusual for an S1, borders on hubris. It’s personal, discursive, and rather defensive in tone, and it attempts to address an investor’s most pressing questions about the company. It claims, several times over, that Google is different, special, and remarkable. It also acts as something of a caveat, a pardon for future sins, claiming that going forward, Google will not act like public companies are supposed to act, because it is unique and long-term focused. “We’re different, and better than others,” is the tone. “Don’t ask why we do things the way we do them. We know best.” To be honest, the letter made me cringe a bit. “Yow,” I said to myself (and now to you…). “Do they really want to set themselves up like this?”

The letter states, among other things:

1. We don’t need to do this for the money; 2. We have no plans to run our business to satisfy Wall Street’s need for smooth earnings predictability; 3. We plan to give no earnings guidance, not at least as it’s understood on Wall St.; 4. Don’t ask us to do so, we’ll simply decline the request; 5. We’ll do odd things that you won’ t understand; 6. We will make big bets on things that may not work out; 7. We run the company as a triumvirate, so there will not be clear leadership from one person like most other companies; 8. We bridge the media and tech industries (interesting), which are in flux, so we’ve chosen a two-class stock structure similar to the NYT, WashPost, and NYT that helps us avoid being taken over by those forces; 9. We plan using an auction model, as it feels fairer and we understand auctions from AdWords; 10. Don’t invest in us if this scares you at all, or the price feels too high; 11. Don’t even think about asking us to cut expenses with regard to our employees; 12. We believe in the idea of Don’t Be Evil; 13. It’s evil to pay for placement or inclusion (a swipe at Yahoo); 14. We hope to bridge the digital divide through Gmail type free services and a foundation with at least 1% of profits and equity to help make the world a better place; 17. Betting on Google is a bet on Sergey and Larry (this was said multiple times, making me wonder if there wasn’t some odd future blame being assigned here by the VCs or bankers); 18. This letter is our way of answering the questions we can’t answer in the coming months due to the IPO quiet period.

If Google comes out at $35 billion, don’t think it’s a screaming “buy.”

Stock price Market Cap Rev ’04 est. Cash flow ’04 est
Time Waner $17.22 $78.5 bln $39.1 bln $9.37 bln
Viacom $38.78 $67.4 bln $29.5 bln $6.8 bln
Walt Disney $23.13 $47.4 bln $30.17 bln $5.12 bln
Google N/A $35 bln (?) $1.8 bln $1 bln

Wired has a complete report on Googlemania while has the numbers and Google — itself — has the news.

Big Brother Cloud

London will become one of the world’s leading wireless cities, the Westminster Council said today as it cut the ribbon on a project to turn the West End into a Wi-Fi zone for equipped with cameras for city workers.

Unstrung Reports WiMax will be a big part of it.

Intel shared its plans at today’s launch of the “Wireless City” project — a joint partnership with Cisco Systems and Westminster. It involves the rollout of a public 802.11b (11-Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) network within the London district (see Westminster Goes Wireless).

The group is in the process of extending a small trial project in the Soho area of central London that provides limited hotspot coverage to the public and links closed circuit cameras to a central network to enable local security monitoring.

Westminster City Council will be one of the first users of this technology anywhere in the world, claims the vendor s director of IT Innovation, Martin Curley. It is our plan to cover large metro areas with WiMax technology. We want to unlock the last mile without the need for fiber.

The Westminster plan will allow parking meter attendants, cleaners, noise inspectors and other council workers to access council systems via 802.11-equipped handheld terminals in real-time, in the field. The scheme, revealed by The Register over a year ago, is being extended from an initial test – put in place last September. It now extends to the whole of Soho, bordered by Shafesbury Ave, Regent Street, Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road.

The overall cost of the Westminster 4G project, including extending coverage to the whole of Westminster, will be in the order of 15 million. Westminster expects to have the infrastructure in place within the next six to nine months. Westminster will use the zone initially to connect noise-monitoring and CCTV cameras without the need to rip up the region’s paving and lay down cables or partner with a service provider.

The motivation is primarily financial. The other key advantage is mobility. The WLAN supports mobile cameras and makes it easier to move cameras to better meet police needs, for example.

Ultimately, the Council wants to offer commercial services, but Rogers admitted that would require a different regulatory framework to permit local government to operate as a commercial entity.

It’s for that reason that the WLAN will remain private, Rogers said.

Rival WiFi providers have expressed dismay at the prospect, predicting that access point overload will quickly follow. There are already dozens of freelance WiFi zones in the area, including Starbucks and BT OpenZone nodes, not to mention even more accidental access points provided by employees in the area, who have installed their own access points on corporate LANs.

A few small companies in the UK have launched Wi-Fi-based rural broadband Internet services. Most, like Shere Broadband, are community-oriented projects headed by enthusiasts. Telabria will provide high-speed Internet access to rural communities in Britain using Wi-Fi-based mesh network technology Telabria is committed, at least for now, to Wi-Fi-based mesh technology, though it is keeping its options open as far as vendors go. It used mesh network equipment from WaveWireless for the first three communities.

Four WiMax trials are being conducted by British Telecom in rural parts of the UK and may be the prelude to a full-scale deployment of WiMax in Britain. Officials have awarded 38 fixed-wireless broadband licences, which will result in the roll out of 3.5GHz services to towns and rural areas. BT may eventually offer WiMax to urban users.

Wireless Top Priority with CIOs

Wireless tops the list of CIO priorities, according to an article in Wireless NewsFactor.

“I would wager that you cannot find an executive within our company who doesn t have a Blackberry and isn’t connected 24×7,” says Northrop Grumman CIO Thomas Shelman. “If I was to e-mail our CEO right now, he would answer within five minutes.

“But that’s just scratching the surface of what I believe wireless technology will enable over the next five years,” continues Shelman. “The virtual workplace is going to continue to explode. And companies that don’t do that, I don t know how they are going to survive.”

CIOs recognize that they may not have the luxury of as much time as they would like when it comes to evaluating wireless. “Mobile and wireless is something that CIOs have to come to terms with,” believes Cora Carmody, CIO, SAIC. “We are fast approaching the day when we will not be able to buy a desktop or a laptop that is not already wireless-capable.”

When CIO Today asked CIOs from Fortune 1000 companies to name the most important emerging technologies for the enterprise, their emphasis was on the ability of those technologies to positively impact their enterprises’ bottom line.

The emerging technologies most often mentioned by CIOs have to do with mobility — wireless devices and RFID. Although few enterprises are running large-scale initiatives, most are slowly getting their feet wet with mobile technologies.

“Wireless is an expanding technology that is moving beyond the PDA , and we are looking at opportunities to use wireless applications in our business, such as moving voice and data out to our field force,” Bennett L. Gaines, vice president and CTO, Cinergy, told CIO Today. “The cost has come down fairly rapidly, making wireless much more compelling to use across your business.”

Navini + Alcatel?

Will Alcatel buy Navini? Unstrung speculates that could be a possibility given Alcatel SA‘s OEM deal with Navini .

Last week Alcatel announced it is to rebadge Navini s Riptide fixed wireless infrastructure kit for those customers unable to wait for industry ratified WiMax equipment (see Alcatel’s Not Waiting for WiMax and Alcatel Signs Navini OEM). Alcatel was already an investor in Navini.

But it s the company s history of turning OEM deals into outright acquisitions that has analysts mulling the prospect of a full-scale Navini purchase. Earlier this year Alcatel announced its acquisition of wireless router startup Watercove, following an OEM partnership announced just five months before (see Alcatel Swallows WaterCove).

In light of Alcatel s stated 802.16 interests and its OEM, then purchase of Watercove, competitors will begin to look for an Alcatel acquisition of Navini, notes Current Analysis s Peter Jarich.

Yankee Group senior analyst Lindsay Schroth argues that an acquisition isn t out of the realm of possibility, but is unlikely to happen in the immediate future. Navini needs to prove itself in the short term and get some of the deployments out there. It needs to prove that WiMax is capable of living up to the hype. Then it would become a clear acquisition target.

Alcatel itself isn t ruling out the possibility. For the future, who knows? But it is not under discussion today, comments Alberto Valsecchi, marketing director for the vendor s wireless transmission division. We are committed to providing a broadband experience to users, and as long as this agreement delivers this benefit to carriers and end users then there is no need to change the relationship.

Given the success of the Fujitsu partnership in Evolium, Alcatel does have a proven track record in partnerships. (See Alcatel Evolves Fujitsu Deal.)