According to Auckland-based technology entrepreneur Mark Povey, speed is life.
A great idea is only so great, he reckons – it’s actually how fast you can get that innovation to market, and into the hot hands of your eventual customers, that really defines a tech business as a success.
By this metric, his company Solta Labs – currently “geeks in a room in Auckland” – is potentially sitting on a goldmine.
That’s because they have signed up to a turbo-boosted development, marketing and distribution programme founded by global networks giant Alcatel-Lucent called ng Connect. Solta is the first New Zealand company to be given a key to the door of ng Connect’s enormous reserve of mentoring capability, marketing networks and other intelligence – a group that will eventually number over 500 mobile technology firms across the world given a hand-up by the scheme.
Solta does product development for third-party partners to pay the bills at the moment, but one of the software developments that it and ng Connect are bringing to market is called MyReplay, an ingenious programme that allows live streaming of sports broadcasting to mobile phones and tablets, with the option of being able to replay any part of that broadcast while it is watched.
That means no more second guessing the referee if you’re at the game and didn’t see whether your favourite player actually touched down and tried or missed the mark. With MyReplay, you can simply watch the replay on your mobile in the stands – and you can access any of the camera angles trained on that incident and collected in live feeds. No more watching only what the studio director wants you to watch!
“There are no new ideas – it’s all about collaborations these days,” says Mark.
“It’s about the execution, and how you get things to market. We have the innovation in our company, we love the challenge of building product that will excite people, and we love gadgets and programming.”
“But the fact is that we really are in nappies at the moment – with the help of Alcatel-Lucent and ng Connect we can get our innovation to market much faster, as well as ensuring we are streets ahead of companies looking to copy our idea,” he says.
At the moment, MyReplay is being introduced to potential customers and showcased at technology for around the world, including at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The possible applications of MyReplay are huge, including being sold into major sports stadiums around the world, and being used by sporting franchises to pitch merchandising and other advertising to fans. And that’s not to mention being used in the likes of sports bars and clubs, at large sporting and cultural events – perhaps even the Olympics.
Alcatel-Lucent’s New Zealand market development director, Matt Bostwick, says ng Connect enables Alcatel-Lucent to apply its wealth of science, research and marketing nous to commercial technologies that will be real game-changers.
“It also allows us to collaborate with like-minded companies, like Solta Labs, to bring innovative new ideas to our telco service provider customers,” he says.
“Because of our global reach, we can also help companies like Solta connect with opportunities and potential customers offshore,” says Matt.
Some of the innovative service concepts being developed by ng Connect members rely on the roll-out of 4G mobile technology, also called Long Term Evolution, that will allow mobile operators to offer faster mobile data speeds and improved performance to enhance video streaming and other high-bandwidth applications.
4G mobile technology is beginning to pick up steam in other markets including the US, Europe and Australia. Mobile operators in New Zealand, such as Telecom, have undertaken trials and are looking at the application of the technology here.
When it comes, demand for products that are part of the “smart phone” revolution will grow quickly, according to industry players. Some of the apps being developed by ng Connect, according to US-based Broadband Communities magazine, are mind-blasting. “Imagine a restaurant table on whose surface you can play a video game, using your phone as the controller, while you wait for dinner.
“Imagine a car that, when it senses trouble, automatically calls a mechanic and downloads a fix. Imagine a store where you try on clothing and see yourself in a mirror, even though you’re still at home… these are just a few of the services being developed by members of ng Connect…” it says.
For Auckland’s Solta Labs, it’s certainly a programme worth belonging to. And while speed to market and other mentoring are the big benefits of partnering with ng Connect according to Solta’s Mark Povey, another advantage is being able to base your company in a place as far away as New Zealand.
“At the moment, all of our customers are outside New Zealand, in Australia and the US, but we choose to be here because we love it,” he says.
“And with the hand-up provided by a global powerhouse of innovation, technology and science like Alcatel-Lucent, that is precisely what we can do.”
Global networks giant Alcatel-Lucent has chosen its first Kiwi company to mentor and open doors for in large offshore markets through its ng Connect scheme – Auckland’s Solta labs. Solta’s MyReplay software has wide potential application to sports stadia and other sports viewing venues across the world.
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