Ambient and Microsoft lead the trend to display glanceable information.
CHICAGO, IL March 24, 2005 -- Ambient Devices today announced the launch of the DataCasting Kit, radically simplifying the ability for consumer products companies to embed Internet information in their products. The DataCasting Kit, about the size of a matchbox, may be embedded into virtually any product enabling it to receive wireless signals from the nationwide Ambient Information Network.
Innovative companies, including home appliance manufacturers, furniture makers or even apparel designers will use the wireless Internet DataCasting Kit to launch products that display various types of online information, such as weather forecasts, stock trends, traffic congestion or health information.
"Ambient's differentiators include coverage and costs," said Alan A. Reiter, president of Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing consulting. "The Ambient Information Network represents one of the largest, if not the largest, datacasting networks in the United States. The large number of transmitters in Ambient's mature wireless network typically provides better coverage and in-building penetration than an FM subcarrier network like Microsoft MSN Direct."
David Rose, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Ambient Devices, says, "The DataCasting Kit is a quantum leap forward for manufacturers to quickly and affordably embed Internet information in a new product, be it a clock radio, MP3 player, refrigerator, car, or clothing. Over the course of 2005 and 2006, dozens of companies will be using the DataCasting Kit to prototype and launch new products."
Distinguished Engineer Dick Berry, IBM User Engineering, said glanceable technology offers an intriguing way to integrate information into the user's physical environment. "Initial setup and ongoing configuration will have to be extremely simple ¡ª as easy as setting the time on a clock. It will be interesting to watch the adoption rate of these devices over the coming months."
A beta version of the DataCasting Kit was used by a large white goods manufacturer to rapidly prototype an Internet connected kitchen appliance. "Within three days the product was receiving and displaying data from the Ambient Information Network." says Ben Resner, Co-Founder and VP of Technology at Ambient.
The Ambient DataCasting Kit is now available. Please go to www.ambientdevices.com for more information.
Datacasting: A backgrounder
What is Datacasting?
Today, many consumer electronics manufacturers and major retailers want to deliver products which seamlessly use data from the Internet to offer enhanced functionality and services. The big question is: How will clock radios, watches, refrigerators and mobile devices receive Internet data?
The answer is datacasting. Think of it like a radio signal for many of the devices in your life. The data is already there, your devices just tune in.
Who are the major players in the datacasting space?
There are two companies today that are the most active in providing datacasting products and services: Ambient Devices and Microsoft Corporation through MSN Direct.
Ambient Devices, founded in 2001 as a spin-out from MIT's renowned Media Lab, has pioneered the market for 'glanceable' devices ¨C products which convey important information at-a-glance. Ambient Devices enables the physical environment to become an interface to digital information. Ambient has created a platform for developing these applications, as well as producing their own line of ambient products.
In May 2002, the company launched the best-selling Ambient Orb, named in the NY Times Magazines "Year in Ideas." Today the Ambient Orb, and Ambient Devices' four other products are available in over 50 retailers including Neiman Marcus, the Museum of Modern Art, Amazon and Brookstone stores. This past holiday season, Radioshack Corp. debuted the Ambient powered Wireless Weather Forecaster, a $99 weather station that displays 5-day weather forecasts directly from Accuweather.com.
All Ambient products are bundled with wireless service for no monthly charge. Additional personalized channels are available for a small monthly fee.
Microsoft's first product to use Datacasting was the SPOT smart wristwatch, announced in January 2003 and launched with licensing partners Fossil and Suunto in January 2004.. These watches deliver Internet data feeds similar to those offered by Ambient Devices ¨C all on your wrist. The Smart Watch requires a service fee of approximately $10 per month.
Ambient and Microsoft are both pioneering what the research community calls "ubiquitous computing." Ubiquitous computing is the global trend towards a lifestyle where the machine to machine delivery of important information is seamless and easily available -- requiring no keyboard, mouse, or computer screen. Instead, Internet data will be available to at-a-glance, from dozens of simple, everyday devices.
What infrastructure is used for Datacasting?
Both Ambient and Microsoft see a vast market for embedding Internet information in everyday objects, including wrist-watches, lamps, cars and clothing. Yet the technologies used by each company differ in important ways. The most important difference is the mechanism for sending data around the country.
Ambient leverages satellites and a frequency-aligned network of over 2000 pager transmitters redundantly broadcasting a wealth of data from the Internet. Each device on the Ambient network can receive signal from more than one tower, reducing dead spots and allowing the network to cover over 90% of the US population.
While standard paging technology carries some transmission costs, the company has overcome this issue through a proprietary micro-packetization algorithm (patent pending) which eliminates monthly service fees for broadcast data.
Microsoft uses FM radio subcarriers, which can listen to a single FM radio station antennae at a time. While Ambient's datacasting network can listen to multiple towers overlapping to improve wireless coverage, the MSN Direct network must rely on existing FM radio station antennas in non-overlapping capacity. FM stations aren't able to construct additional transmitters for the sole purpose of improving their data broadcasting coverage.
About Ambient Devices
Ambient Devices is radically changing how people receive information in their daily lives. Ambient extends the reach of digital information to a new category of wireless products using light, meters, and motion to communicate at a glance. Using technologies developed at the MIT Media Lab combined with principles of cognitive psychology, everyday products tune into a nationwide wireless network to keep you in touch with the information that matters to you most. For more information, visit www.ambientdevices.com
For more information, contact:
Ambient Devices, Inc.
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