A Connected World: Lessons Learned on How to Build an Ecosystem

By Steve Venuti, VP Marketing

Given today’s announcement about our Connected World initiative, we thought it was time to articulate in broader terms what the functionality and capabilities of our work means for the larger mobile technology market.

To understand our vision, it’s worth remembering that even in 2017, most mobile devices spend a significant part of their useful lives connected by wires to some other device: a monitor, a hard drive, a car, a laptop, a sound system, etc. And even as Wi-Fi and the cloud have improved in terms of speed and consumer-grade interfaces, the reality is that serious data transfer still relies heavily on connectors.

In fact, connectors are still a $57 billion industry. And data transfer demands – especially but not only in the form of entertainment like music and movies, or photos – are only increasing.

Keyssa’s goal is to free mobile devices from wires, and from bandwidth limits, so that people and businesses can enjoy a greater level of mobile connectivity than has ever been possible.

We call this our “Connected World” initiative – and we’re working with investors like Foxconn, Samsung and Tony Fadell to build a standard of standards so that our working, production-grade, connector-less connectivity can be truly interoperable across smartphones, cars, homes, and businesses.

Simply put:

◦ Keyssa envisions a world where devices can touch each other, and in touching, exchange very large data sets.

◦ We envision devices that can attach to another device, and in so doing, provide vastly more power and functionality to the first device.

◦ We believe this will be done without wires and without sacrificing the technical advantages that wires offer.

◦ We believe this functionality will be embedded in the devices we use every day: our phones; our cars, our cameras, our peripherals.

 

A Look Back At Our Success With HDMI: 6 Requirements

Yes, we at Keyssa have products and evolve them over time – as our release today indicates. But arguably our real product is building an interoperable ecosystem, or the standard of standards I referred to above.

If you take a look at some great, market-accelerating tech leaps in hardware, you often also see companies convening around a systematic way of addressing the fundamental requirements necessary to build an ecosystem of interoperable products.

Take HDMI. I’ve got first-hand knowledge of the HDMI interface, given that I was involved in the launch of HDMI in December of 2002. When I left in March of 2015 to join Keyssa, over 5 billion products had shipped with HDMI ports.

Why was HDMI so successful? And what lessons is the team here at Keyssa focused on? I’ve outlined 6 key principles below. HDMI basically followed these guardrails – and Keyssa is too, even while some others operating in the smartphone space may not be. Time will tell which approach is successful – but our bet, and that of our investors and partners, is on an ecosystem that applies these lessons:

Market Need:

Without a need in the market, new interfaces are non-starters. It all starts with a fundamental need that is not being fulfilled. In the case of HDMI, content was delivered in digital format, through an analog connection, to a digital screen. The need for a digital interconnect was glaring. In the case of the Connected World/Keyssa approach, the need for faster, high-volume data transfer is equally obvious.

First Adoption by Key Industry Leaders:

Without key adopters who are incented to build the interface into their products, and who are large enough to command market leadership, an ecosystem cannot be built. It’s not enough to have first adopters. First adopters must be brand leaders who can drive their competitors to follow suit.

Core Technology:

I take it for granted that the underlying technology address the core market need. Of course, this is a must. But just as importantly, the underlying technology must meet the needs of the manufacturer. Key issues manufacturers will have, in addition to price and IP, include manufacturability (is this technology manufacturable in high volumes?) and reliability (is this technology reliable over the life of a phone…a car…?)

IP Coverage:

Without confidence that core interface IP is licensed to the manufacturers under fair and reasonable terms, no manufacturer will risk adoption of the technology. I would always advise adopters to do a full review of the IP landscape before committing to an interface technology. Adopters need to know that IP from Founders/Contributors to the specification protects the licensees so the licensees feel their risk from third-party law suits in minimized. This is one reason Keyssa has been so thorough in filing and registering our IP.

Test and Compliance:

In my experience, test and compliance are as underappreciated as they are critical to success. One of the obviously complexities of interface technologies is that by definition, they involve more than one device. And in most cases, these devices come from different manufacturers. A full testing suite to ensure device-to-device interoperability is critical to the success of an ecosystem. This must be coupled with an aggressive compliance program that supports adopters by targeting infringers and manufacturers of non-compliant products.

Second Sourcing of Core Technology:

Few ecosystems will be held hostage to a single provider of technology. Yet, in many cases, innovative technologies and new categories are created by single companies. At HDMI, we offered the core technology to competitors knowing that market adoption would require more than one source.

As Keyssa looks at the way devices will interconnect in the upcoming years, and as we piece together the market trends, consumer needs, and manufacturer requirements, we can’t help but be excited about our Connected World initiative. We have brought together some of the industry-leading experts in interface technologies, to work with some of the largest manufacturers of consumer electronics products—all in an effort to launch the next generation of device-to-device interconnectivity.

 

Steve Venuti, VP Marketing, Keyssa
Steve spent 12 years at HDMI Licensing where he served as President, overseeing the initial release of the HDMI specification and growing it to today’s ubiquitous worldwide connectivity standard in over 6 billion products worldwide.

 

Key Connector World Leadership from Keyssa

Roger Issac, CTO, Keyssa
Roger has served as the chairman of the low-power memory committee at JEDEC, and has led a number of technical task groups including LPDDR2, LPDDR4, and UFS. He also served on the organization’s Board of Directors.

Tony Fadell, Advisor to Keyssa
Tony is the founder and former CEO of Nest. Previously, Tony was the SVP of Apple’s iPod Division and led the team that created the first 18 generations of the iPod and the first three generations of the iPhone. Tony has authored more than 300 patents.

Ajay Bhatt, Advisor to Keyssa
Ajay Bhatt is a former Intel Fellow and has co-invented USB, Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), PCI Express, Thunderbolt as well as the USB Type-C connector. Ajay has secured over 132 U.S. and international patents.

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