Professor’s program shines in Las Vegas: Software draws international at fair
Professor Lee McKnight hit it big in Las Vegas last week, but he didn’t play any slots.
At this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (ICES) held in Las Vegas, Nev., McKnight’s company, Wireless Grids, attracted big-name buyers including Intel and Telecom New Zealand.
The company has constructed a major breakthrough in innovative technology called Innovaticus, a wireless networking program that allows people to send files, pictures and music without using the Internet.
Innovaticus ‘makes it possible to share hardware with yourself,’ McKnight, a professor from the iSchool, said. The new program creates a wireless grid space allowing access to files including MP3 players, printers and computers.
Two years ago, 24 high school students in Boston took part in a trial run. The product has since been updated and perfected, creating a safer wireless environment.
The 2008 ICES hosted approximately 20,000 different businesses with booths across the city. Innovators and buyers gather to check out the year’s newest electronic gadgets.
‘It’s where new toys are unveiled,’ McKnight said.
This year, Wireless Grids chief strategy officer Norman Lewis was asked to give a keynote speech putting Innovaticus in the limelight.
Lewis addressed the idea of ‘digital kids,’ describing the heavy influence that technology has on today’s youth.
‘It’s not about the technology, but on the way childhood has changed,’ Lewis said.
He said technology today encourages personal expression through different media channels. Lewis hopes Innovaticus will be a gateway to creativity and expression for college students.
Lewis said Wireless Grids’ presence at ICES helped portray the idea that Innovaticus and technologies like it are what young people need today to create their own space.
‘We were there and able to put forward a new approach to the future of computing,’ Lewis said. ‘It gave us very good feedback.’
Another member of Wireless Grids, Audrey Selian, director of marketing and sales, was also present at the electronics show in Las Vegas. Selian, like McKnight and Lewis, was pleased with the response potential buyers gave to Innovaticus.
‘I think the functionality and ease of use that our ‘early’ Innovaticus demo displayed really resonated with everyone who saw it,’ Selian said in an e-mail Wednesday. ‘It’s so obviously the way forward. It was that instant recognition and validation by others in our industry that was most gratifying.’
With the success of the ICES, McKnight said he is now looking forward to setting up the program in Boland Hall on the Syracuse University campus this February to see how the students receive wireless file-sharing. He wanted Boland Hall’s artistic community – as opposed to that of engineers who have experience in the field – to test out the program to prove one doesn’t have to be tech-savvy to be able to enjoy Innovaticus.
Residents of Boland Hall will be the first ‘live’ users to test the updated version of the product for everyday use.
‘If there’s a party in the lounge, it’s everybody’s music,’ McKnight said with regard to the MP3 file-sharing property.
Zoe Koulouris, a freshman entrepreneur major, has played a significant business role in setting up Innovaticus in Boland Hall.
While Koulouris is somewhat concerned with security within the program, she thinks wireless networking is just what university students need to make college work easier.
‘I think that students my age are all about instant gratification, and with having software that links all of our digital devices and allows us to network and share devices with others is going to be a big hit, as long as it doesn’t get abused,’ Koulouris said.
Currently, Wireless Grids, based in both Syracuse and London, has already partnered with Nokia for research and development. The company also has a contract with Telecom New Zealand and a pending ‘memorandum of understanding’ with Intel.
An agreement with Intel will be huge, McKnight said, allowing Innovaticus to upgrade alongside Intel and create an electronic partnership.
Wireless Grids is organizing follow-ups with companies located in Singapore and the Caribbean, as well as with universities in the West Indies.
Innovaticus ‘was a huge success,’ McKnight said proudly. ‘I expect people to love it; it’ll be a big hit.’
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