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Unformatted text preview: po ssible to scatter data aro und the wo rld, and with mo re po wer, perso nal co mputers displayed
graphical interf aces that replaced co mplex co mmands with easy-to -understand menus accessible by
a mo use click. At the clo se o f the last century, the majo rity o f the po pulatio n in many develo ped
co untries had ho me P Cs, as did mo st libraries and scho o ls. No w we’re in w av e fiv e, where co mputers are so f ast and so inexpensive that they have beco me
ubiquito us—wo ven into pro ducts in ways f ew imagined years bef o re. Silico n is everywhere! It
pro vides the smarts in the wo rld’s billio n-plus mo bile pho nes. It’s in the thro waway radio
f requency identif icatio n (RFID) tags that track yo ur luggage at the airpo rt. It’s the brains inside
ro bo t vacuum cleaners, next generatio n Lego s, and the table lamps that change co lo r when the
sto ck market mo ves up o r do wn. These digital shif ts can rearrange entire industries. Co nsider that
to day the f irm that sells mo re cameras than any o ther is No kia, a f irm that o f f ers increasingly
so phisticated chip-based digital cameras as a giveaway as part o f its primary pro duct, mo bile
pho nes. This shif t has o ccurred with such sweeping impact that f o rmer pho to graphy giants Ko dak
and the no w-merged Ko nica-Mino lta have exited the camera business. Ambient Devices and the Fifth Wave
P ritesh Gandhi almo st never gets caught in the rain witho ut his umbrella. That’s because
Gandhi’s umbrella regularly and wirelessly checks weather repo rts o n its o wn. If the umbrella
gets wo rd it will rain in the next f ew ho urs, the handle blinks with increasing urgency, warning
its o wner with a signal that seems to declare, “Yo u will so o n require my services.” Gandhi is
CEO o f “f if th wave” f irm Ambient Devices, a Massachusetts start-up that’s embedding
co mputing and co mmunicatio ns techno lo gy into everyday devices in an attempt to make them
“smarter” and mo re usef ul (the weather-sensing umbrella was develo ped while he helmed the f irm). Ambient’s ability to pull o f f this little miracle is evidence o f ho w quickly inno vative thinkers are
able to take advantage o f new o ppo rtunities and pio neer new markets enabled by Mo o re’s Law.
The f irm’s f irst pro duct, the Orb, is a lamp that can be set up to change co lo r in real time in
reactio n to f acto rs such as the perf o rmance o f yo ur sto ck po rtf o lio o r the intensity o f the lo cal
po llen co unt. In just six mo nths, the ten ref ugees f ro m MIT’s Media Lab that f o unded Ambient
Devices to o k the idea f o r the Orb, designed the device and its so f tware, and licensed wireless
spectrum f ro m a pager f irm that had bo th excess capacity and a f o o tprint to co ver o ver 90
percent o f the United States.M. Co peland, “Ho w to Ride the Fif th Wave,” Business 2.0, July 1,
2005; and J. Miller, “Go o dbye G.U.I? Ambient Orb a Co mputer ‘Mo o d Ring,’” Mass High
Tech, February 10, 2003. Ambient has since expanded the pro duct line to several lo w-...
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This document was uploaded on 01/31/2014.
- Winter '14