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Posts Tagged ‘Tachyon’

Mobile Monday is a global community with various chapters all over the world. What does this community do? This is what they say of themselves:

Mobile Monday is a global community of mobile industry visionaries, developers and influentials fostering cooperation and cross-border business development through virtual and live networking events to share ideas, best practices and trends from global markets.

As often is the case, Bangalore is not far behind in whatever happens at world stage. A group of enthusiasts have combined forces to start the Bangalore chapter of Mobile Monday. This happened in June 2006. Their meetings are fairly informal and full of ideas, discussions and business networking.

As I understand, they meet on the fourth Monday of each month at various venues. I attended the October meet. A roundup of this meeting is on their website. My own review of the meeting follows. The meeting started with a presentation by Vanu India Pvt Ltd, a global startup expanding in India. This was followed by a demo of QuillPad by Tachyon Technologies, a small Indian startup.

Presentation by Vanu India Pvt Ltd

Vanu India Pvt Ltd is a sister company of Vanu Inc., a global startup founded in 1998 and focusing on Software Defined Radio (SDR). SDR is a technology in which some or all of physical layer processing is done in portable software rather than custom-built hardware. This enables base stations and access points to activate different access mechanisms from the same platform with ease of mainenance and operability. The interesting aspect of this software is that it runs on a general purpose processor rather than a DSP. This makes Vanu’s approach disruptive to existing market norms. Vanu’s advantage is that as processors get better and faster, the same implementation can be ported with little difficulty to leverage on the latest advancements.

Figure 1

Waveform-Device-Vanu

This can be better understood by referring to Figure 1. The top flow is a traditional model. The bottom flow is what Vanu is following. Traditionally, it used to be the case that the average lifespan of a device is much longer than the waveform model. This was only because implementations in software used to be easier to change. This is no longer true as software modules are large and complex. Software these days is doing a lot of what hardware used to do, particularly in the domain of SDR. This means that if a new device is released much of that software has to be rewritten to take advantage of the advances in the device. The cost of developing new software or updating old software is quite high. Why not write a portable software that needs no update?

For this approach to work, General Purpose Processors (GPP) need to keep pace with advancements in DSPs. Only then, Vanu’s approach will have a competitive advantage.

SDR is presently not practical on a mobile but Vanu sees this as a goal for the future. Current technology requires that the RF frontend be duplicated for different access standards. The business case for Vanu is also not obvious at present but there is much promise in an evolving market where multiple standards will continue to exist and interwork.

The many insightful questions that were asked during the presentation underlined the uncertainty that’s present in an evolving market. Only those who innovate boldly and find an apt business case will succeed. Vanu appears to be doing just that, although there are sufficient challenges to keep them busy.

Demo by Tachyon Technologies

Representation of Indian languages in the digital domain has made much progress in the last decade or so. We now have unicode representations. We have many types of fonts. We have websites purely in Indian languages. However, methods of input have failed to catch up with these advances. Or rather, what we have today are sorely inadequate to fulfill the expectations of users. Anyone who has attempted to type Indian characters will know the difficulty of the exercise. The challenge is greater if we attempt to do this from a mobile keypad.

Tachyon aims to make such input a lot easier and intuitive. The ordinary way of Indian language input is to transliterate Roman characters to Indian characters using predefined rules. Because there are many more alphabets in Indian languages than in English, the methods of input are often non-intuitive and sometimes involve special keyboard characters. Tachyon has taken a different approach of using a trained data set of common patterns that occur in words. This enables users to type more naturally. The language interpreter takes on the job of finding the right word based on context. If there are multiple options, the most likely one will be suggested. It is also easy to navigate across the options. This make Tachyon’s input tool, the QuillPad, a more user-friendly tool than Google’s Indic Transliteration. Tachyon has taken the competition head-on. They appear to be in the lead.

The demo at the meeting was on a Nokia handset loaded with QuillPad software. Before coming to this meeting, I tried the online QuillPad for Tamil. The product is by no means done and dusted. It needs improvements. For example, try typing “Thekkady”. It makes the same mistakes as Google. Hopefully, Tachyon will win the race.

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