Ever wonder where tomorrow’s cool apps and gadgets will come from? Many are in development right now with help from the Verizon Innovation Program.
The Verizon Innovation Program has two centers (one in San Francisco, Calif., and one in Waltham, Mass.), which help companies ranging from multinational corporations to fledgling start-ups develop and rapidly prototype products and solutions that thrive on the power, speed and reach of the Verizon 4G LTE network.
Both centers focus on innovations involving wireless connectivity and applications. They offer a wide range of resources, including experts that work side-by-side with participants to integrate 4G LTE connectivity in new devices or applications, access to the latest testing tools and development network, and connections to Verizon’s many partners, who are ready to add their technology, knowledge and value. How and to what extent these resources are used depends on the particular project.
“Every day is different but equally exciting,” says Mike Flynn, Experience Designer within the Verizon Innovation Program. “In a way, we’re a start-up within huge Verizon. We have the opportunity and flexibility to do a lot of entrepreneurial work. When the time is right, we tap into the right channels to get resources or bring in a new partner and push things forward.”
Serving start-ups and multinationals
Although the common denominator is Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the kinds of companies and products Verizon works with are varied. Computer giant Dell came to the Innovation Center to ensure that its Alienware M14X gaming laptop would run its fastest on the 4G LTE network. But small and medium-sized businesses get the same level of attention: With help from the LTE Innovation Center in Waltham, BL Healthcare developed its Healthcare Access Tablet, which collects and relays vital-sign data, enables high-quality video consults and provides educational content. Tapping into the 4G LTE network unleashed a range of powerful features and services previously unavailable.
“We are working on wide-ranging solutions that affect consumers and businesses, improving the ways we live, work and play,” says Flynn. The high speed and low latency of the Verizon 4G LTE network unlocks true mobile computing. One example is a lightweight, head-mounted computer from Kopin that may revolutionize the way users interact with their virtually enhanced surroundings. With hands-free access to a full PC experience, a 15-inch virtual display and other advanced features, users can control up to six devices, systems or networks at a time. “By collaborating with inventive companies like Kopin, Verizon and our 4G LTE network are helping to deliver experiences previously not possible,” says Flynn.
Dev support and more
The support Verizon provides goes far beyond the purely technical. “If you envision a company that’s looking to connect its fleet of 500 trucks, you need to do a lot more than put a wireless connection in those trucks,” says Flynn. “You need to manage them effectively.”
“Verizon as a whole is in a powerful position to help these companies,” Flynn says, “from figuring out pricing and a business model, to using our sales force as a potential avenue to bring products to market, to running things efficiently.” (If you’re an entrepreneur and this kind of support sounds good to you, check out the Innovation Program website.)
The benefits of this kind of collaboration aren’t limited to just the developers. “The biggest benefit is really great products for consumers and businesses,” says Flynn. “But more than that, it’s a great user experience. We’re working with car manufacturers to build 4G LTE connectivity into cars so they can connect with parking meters and make it easier to find a parking spot in a city like New York or Boston. For healthcare, we have a wireless sleep apnea test that you can take from the comfort of your own home, in your own bed. The data gets communicated to the doctor wirelessly, and the test is more cost effective and convenient for all involved.”
Ensuring that a product runs efficiently on Verizon’s 4G LTE network benefits developers and consumers in other ways. “If you’re an app developer, you want your product to use data efficiently, or people may avoid your application,” says Flynn. And for consumers: “We work with developers to optimize products and apps so that our customers get the best experience out of the wireless network.”
What existing product or new invention would you like to see connected to Verizon’s 4G LTE network?