Verizon Wireless Pulls Curtain Back a Bit on Its Innovation Program
At a gathering held for reporters last night in New York, folks from Verizon Wireless sought to talk up some of the ways the wireless carrier works with third-party technology developers.
Nothing groundbreaking was announced, yet Verizon Wireless of Basking Ridge, NJ, seemed anxious to prove that it has its hands in more than just smartphones and tablets—even though they have been is its bread and butter.
The company said it has its own engineers working on new ideas, but Verizon Wireless has also been grasping vigorously for fresh technology developed outside its corporate walls. “We’re not just this plain old phone company,” said Craig Jackowski, a manager with the Verizon Innovation Program.
He talked about a few of the ideas the company supports that use its network, such as robots, telematics, and connected cars. The innovation program operates centers in Waltham, MA, and San Francisco that collectively work with 400 startups and bigger third parties, to foster new technology, Jackowski said.
Companies such as Samsung and Qualcomm collaborate with the innovation program, he added, which also sees smaller players such as VGo Communications in Nashua, NH. VGo developed a telepresence robot that can be used by businesses, healthcare workers, and students to connect remotely with others. Working with Verizon Wireless, helped expanded VGo’s reach, Jackowski said. “They needed a wireless network to take it beyond Wi-Fi,” he explained.
Visus Technology, another collaborator with the innovation program, has tested its technology for assisting the visually impaired in Boston. The VelaSense apps from Visus work with a camera on smartphones for facial identification of people who approach the user, and may even recognize if they are smiling. That information is relayed audibly to an earpiece worn by the user. VelaSense can also recognize colors and different denominations of cash.
Verizon Wireless plans to bring VelaSense to market in the latter part of the first quarter 2015, Jackowski said.
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