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Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

High-Tech Think Outside puts a keyboard in your pocket

Metricom’s Ricochet Fails to Hit Target

With the line blurring between mobile phones and personal digital assistants (like Palm Pilots), it was bound to happen. Someone was going to hook a computer keyboard to a wireless phone.

Motorola announced last week it would market a phone keyboard, called iBoard. Though it carries the Motorola brand, it was designed by Carlsbad-based Think Outside Inc.

The full-size keyboard collapses into a package slightly bigger than a wallet. It has special keys for phone-type functions , to adjust the volume, for example.

The keyboard may be used with Motorola model i85s and i50sx Internet-ready handsets.

Its suggested retail price is $99.99.

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Ricochet For Sale:

The wireless transceivers that hang beneath street lamps in many San Diego neighborhoods have gone silent.

Those boxes were part of Metricom, Inc.’s Ricochet network, which provided 128 kilobit per second Internet access to laptops and other wireless devices.

San Jose-based Metricom offered Ricochet in 13 markets (and a slower wireless service in two others). It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month.

At the start of this month, the company announced plans to lay off 282 employees. It set Aug. 8 as the date to shut down its network, and announced it would auction its assets on Aug. 16.

These Sobriquets Are Something Else:

Not content with their present names, at least three local tech companies are changing theirs.

The National Dispatch Center, Inc. has changed its name to Aradiant Corp. , partly to reflect a broader line of services. The company’s wireless messaging division also has a new name, NDC Messaging Solutions. Aradiant’s customer support division will continue to operate under the name Servistream.

Altris Software, Inc. of San Diego will change its name to Spescom Software Inc. on Oct. 1, assuming shareholders approve the plan. Spescom is the name of Altris’ parent company in Johannesburg, South Africa. Altris produces software for e-business and for handling computer documents (among other things, it lets computer users cross-reference different kinds of files).

Meanwhile, VoloNet Technologies, Inc. has changed its name to RedWire Broadband Inc. The company provides broadband service to office buildings in San Diego as well as Orange and Los Angeles counties.

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Columnar Components:

The San Diego Telecom Council has announced its first 10 mentor sponsors. Each of the sponsoring organizations has pledged between $25,000 and $100,000 to the council. They are Andersen (formerly Arthur Andersen), Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP, Cooley Godward LLP, Ericsson, Nokia, PacketVideo Corp., Qualcomm Inc., Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), Wireless Facilities Inc. and WindRiver Systems Inc.

In other sponsorship news, Enosys Markets of San Diego has signed on to be an industrial partner of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UCSD and UC Irvine. Institute researchers will use Enosys software to pull data together from widely distributed sources. San Diego-based Stellcom Inc. is helping San Diego chip-maker Silicon Wave Inc. design communication components that use the Bluetooth wireless standard.

Send high-tech news to Graves via e-mail at bgraves@sdbj.com. Biotech news may be directed to mwebb@sdbj.com.


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