We all know how aggressive tech companies can be in enforcing all kinds of even minor patents. What is less discussed is the tendency of many to only grudgingly give credit to technologies they may themselves be embedding in their products and services.
Verizon has been running commercials where it shows firefighter applications and the voice over says they are the work of “Verizon innovators”. The headset being used is a Golden-I from Kopin. Turns out smaller integrators around the world are also developing similar applications like this for police work by Ikanos Consulting out of Nottinghamshire, UK. Not sure they would want to be called “Verizon innovators”.
When Microsoft introduced its very successful Kinect for the XBox, Adafruit Industries announced OpenKinect, a contest with a $3,000 bounty. Microsoft did not take kindly to that and announced it would “work closely with law enforcement and product safety groups to keep Kinect tamper-resistant”. It quickly backed off, though. It had licensed the sensor technology from PrimeSense, an Israeli company (that I had blogged about here). Microsoft’s reaction “OpenKinect was not a hack, but the new code is not supported and people should use the Kinect as intended, with the Xbox only.”
While smaller firms like PrimeSense or Kopin on Ikanos may say they benefit from the exposure Verizon or Microsoft indirectly provide them, bigger vendors are a bit more forthcoming.
While IBM basked in the media attention to Watson after it beat the Jeopardy! champs, Yahoo reminded the world it also deserved a fair amount of credit:
IBM’s Watson depends on 200 million pages of content and 500 gigabytes of preprocessed information to answer the Jeopardy! questions. That huge catalog of documents had to be indexed so that Watson could answer questions within the 3-second time limit. On a single computer, generating that large catalog and index would take a lot of time, but dividing the work onto many computers makes it much faster. Apache Hadoop is the industry standard framework for processing large amounts of data on many computers in parallel. By using Hadoop MapReduce, Watson’s development team was able to easily and reliably run their application on a large number of computers. For the last 5 years, since the start of Hadoop, Yahoo! has been the primary contributor.
I could go on.
With our complex global supply chains, we all know many piece parts go into a final product. But it is jarring when vendors pretend we don’t know that. It has gotten to the point that when a large vendor announces something breakthrough, it is my cue to go dig into the smaller vendors who provide the critical components and profile them on New Florence. Yes, PrimeSense and Golden-I are both there, as are many others.