Inside Verizon’s Innovation Center: Home Health, Virtual Retail, & More

11/14/12Follow @gthuang

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and sends an alarm to a caregiver. Another product is a wireless computer monitor designed to relay health data and enable video consults.

5. A “mobile ER” system enables emergency medical personnel in the field to transmit critical information about incoming patients to the hospital, via a mobile video link and integration with the clinic’s medical records.

6. In enterprise security, Verizon smartphones equipped with near field communication (NFC) can be used to lock and unlock doors, or log in to a laptop. NFC-enabled devices can also be used for mobile payments—to buy a train ticket at the station, say.

7. A networked ATM showed flashes of next-generation virtual banking. The machine can do two-way video with a teller or financial analyst. This made me realize how little ATMs have changed in 20 years.

8. Verizon is doing a fair amount with utilities and the energy industry. I saw an array of smart-grid sensors (see left, with Puranik) and communications nodes that hook up to the power grid and provide real-time information on electricity demand and other energy management issues. This is another big emerging use case for 4G LTE.

9. An early demo of a connected camera plus visual collaboration software looked intriguing. Presumably you could work with another person, drawing diagrams or showing each other things via your smartphones or other screens, with a shared interface that stores your notes and edits.

10. In connected cars, Verizon is pursuing projects in fleet management, as well as hooking up consumers’ cars to its network (presumably to do things like transmit status updates about vehicles). A fancy Mercedes outfitted with the latest wireless implements was parked on the innovation showroom floor, but I was told it’s too early to say what it does. Stay tuned.

My conclusions: The demos are slick, but none of these projects is big enough to move the revenue needle for Verizon Wireless, at least not yet. The future of the company rests on signing up more mobile and Internet subscribers (both consumers and businesses) while working toward building an ecosystem of developers who can harness the 4G LTE network in ways we haven’t even thought of yet. And, crucially, do it in ways that get Verizon paid.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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