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The Air Is Alive



One thing that's always on the top of my mind is the idea that progress goes in one direction. Meaning that this moment now is the most primitive technologically that our world will ever be. Each day we advance further -- chip speeds advance, bandwidth widens, compression algorithims improve, in an endless escalation of capability. So don't ever think that today is the world as we will know it -- the world of the near future will take all the advances up to now and use them to create new advances that have never been possible.

So that's great. We have all these advances but when does the world really change? Some of you may have noticed Qualcomm's new mobile TV chip:

Qualcomm has announced a single-chip universal broadcast modem (UBM) solution supporting three of the world's mobile broadcast standards.

Qualcomm said the UBM solution supports FLO technology, DVB-H, and ISDB-T, creating a common platform that handset manufacturers can leverage to address multiple standards.

"Mobile TV on handsets is gaining momentum in the wireless industry, even as network operators continue to evaluate the various standards available," said Mike Concannon, VP of strategic products for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. The UBM solution includes support for FLO, which is part of the MediaFLO system, DVB-H, and one-segment implementations of ISDB-T to address the needs of network operators in Europe, Asia, North America and elsewhere for the deployment of mobile broadcast services. The UBM solution, Qualcomm noted, offers a high level of integration to deliver a single-chip FLO solution for the North American market that also includes specific enhancements necessary for deployment outside of North America.

The UBM is designed as a companion to Qualcomm's mobile station modem baseband chipsets, but also can be used with other products.

Qualcomm said that specific performance features of the UBM solution include support for the entire UHF bandwidth -- 470 to 862 MHz; tunable modes 5, 6, 7 and 8 MHz channel bandwidths; and support for single- and multi-frequency networks.

Designed to be compatible with both cdma2000 and W-CDMA/UMTS devices, the UBM solution is expected to sample in the first quarter of 2007.

Mobile TV is indeed a big deal to the mobile industry. Taking mobile TV from the postage stamp screen to the full size virtual sreen with Microvision's IPM will be a HUGE deal.

It is only through the delivery of the BIG experience to consumers, made possible through a new generation of Microvision IPM-inside devices, that the collective mobile industry will be able to achieve the maximum return on their investments in digital content and network infrastructure.

Keep in mind that the same content currently displayed on tiny screens can be displayed on full size virtual screens enabled by the IPM -- there's no investment required on the part of the industry to specifically redesign or reformat content to work with IPM devices. The IPM just functions as a projector for the same image information that the 2" screen displays -- but since there's no physical screen, the device can now display a huge virtual image, and most importantly, still fit in your pocket.

The world begins to change when new technologies converge in such a way that a paradigm shift is created and entirely new applications and modes of interacting are enabled. The delivery of IPM-inside mobile devices represents such a paradigm shift and will be the foundation that the next-generation of mobile services will be built on.

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Over the last few days, I've had this interesting feeling that maybe borders on premonition -- this feeling that the air is alive. If you think about the pervasive reach of mobile digital networks, pretty much anywhere you go, there is data and information and content coursing through the air, getting zapped from satellites or antenna towers to mobile devices that number in the billions, in everyone's pockets or on everyone's wrists and eventually everyone's eyeglasses.

Now there are a few constituencies that participate in this process of bringing the air to life with digital multimedia:

Consumers
Content Owners
Device Manufacturers
Service Providers


The content owners, device manufacturers and service providers each have a huge investment and vested interest in the continuing build out and advancement of existing network services, and the establishment of next-generation services that deliver new or improved content, or allow new levels of functionality or new modes of interacting with this pervasive, alive digital environment. Of course, all of these services have to be designed in a way that consumers immediately see the benefits and pay the money to adopt them, whether through the purchase of a new phone, a new service plan or a change in their behavior such as increased mobile data consumption.

Back in February, I touched on these points in a post called 'Focus/Identity/Destiny'. In that post, I used the example of Electronic Arts as a content owner, and supposed that the mobile platform was not yet capable of supporting a full-price product due to the constraints of small screen size and to a lesser degree, graphics horsepower.

With Microvision's IPM inside the mobile phone in the form of a Picoprojector or as a Color Eyewear extension, the mobile platform is entirely transformed as a content delivery mechanism. Full size, high resolution content can be displayed in devices that retain their current package size and form factor (in the case of projector applications), or entirely new, sleek and sexy eyewear devices that take the mobile device to a completely new level.

This means:

1. Higher selling prices for software and content designed for mobile consumption. This benefits content owners.
2. New service packages and monthly fees for high-value big-screen content on mobile devices. This benefits service providers.
3. A new generation of mobile devices that include IPM in Eyewear and Projector configurations. This gets consumers into stores purchasing new mobile devices. This benefits device manufacturers and service providers.

With the advent of social networks like MySpace (check out my page), the entirely virtual reality-based SecondLife, as well as digital cameras and camcorders embedded in mobile devices with increasing regularity, consumers themselves are becoming digital content owners. The ability to use mobile devices as a form of self-expression through display of full-size pictures, movies, games and VR environments (not to mention location-based and augmented reality services) takes mobile computing from being centered around phone calls to becoming a unique and powerful method for consumers to entertain themselves, interact with one another, and really build their identities. (This is a pretty big topic in itself that I'll have to really dig into in a separate post.)

Look, guys. The world is changing. There are going to be whole new worlds of mobile services and content. Microvision's goal is to function as the key visual engine that enables these next-generation services and allows the best possible user experience for existing services. So instead of crying in our beer over the stock price, keep in mind that we now have more cash in the bank than we've had in many years; new management that has a focused, coherent business plan and the wherewithal to execute it; and an absolutely freaking killer technology platform that can be embedded in devices that currently sell close to a BILLION units annually.

We just need one design win to get us started. And who knows where that will take us. My bet is, we'll get it.

On another note, I bought a few more shares yesterday. The company's not going away, gang. Let's see what these guys can do now that they've got some real funding to execute their plan.

2 comments:

At June 5, 2006 at 12:40 PM Anonymous said...

Ben,

I far as I know, MVIS doesn’t yet have solid products
suitable for these markets or other markets, and I don’t
know when they will have such products. In the meantime
we risk significant stock dilution. (IMO, Flic has limited
long term potential due to emerging RFID competition, and
military business rarely provides a steady revenue stream.)

Furthermore, if MVIS takes too long, then alternatives will
capture the market regardless how superior MVIS technology
could have been. –Just my opinion.

Another matter, which I would like to learn about, is the
quality of the MVIS engineers. I know that MVIS has
improved management lately, but the reported quality issues
with Nomad points to possible problems with the engineering
staff as well. In competitive team sports you need both
great players and great coaches to win, and the tech world
is very analogous.

Getting concerned,
-hbolsen

 
At June 5, 2006 at 12:53 PM Ben said...

the goal is for MVIS to provide a visual subsystem, the IPM, into other companies' products.

I think it's a mistake to assume that things like RFID are just going to sweep through the universe and render all bar codes obsolete any time soon.

it's a competitive world out there, there's no doubt, and that's how it should be. the MVIS technology is one fighter in the battle for market share for next generation device visual output.

we'll all see what happens -- some of us with MVIS shares, some without.

best of luck,
Ben

 

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