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Company name: Mojix
Founded: Incorporated August 2003; formally launched April 2008
Location: Los Angeles
What does the company offer? The Mojix STAR System, a distributed passive RFID system that lets a single Mojix-patented antenna array read tag emissions as far as1,000 feet away, compared to the typical RFID reader range of just 30 feet, and do so with "triple nine" reliability. In conventional RFID, the reader beams out a signal that activates the tag, which reflects part of the energy back to the reader along with the identifier data.
Mojix splits the reader in two: the beaming to tags is now done by simple "eNodes," which can be easily set up anywhere. They're wired (and in future wirelessly linked) to the Wow Thing: the STAR Receiver, which uses some signal-processing technology drawn from NASA, for reading very faint signals from deep space probes. Mojix says its receiver boasts a 100,000 times improvement in receive capability. The result: It can pick up the tag emissions at unheard-of distances.
Why is it worth watching? The Mojix technology could finally make it cost-effective to deploy full-blown RFID systems across big, and numerous, distribution and manufacturing facilities, giving enterprises what they want: visibility into where stuff is.
How did the company get its start? The signal processing technology was developed by Mojix founder Ramin Sadr, who began applying it to software-defined radio research, and then focused the research on a commercial product for the RFID market.
How did the company get its name? "Moj" is the Persian word for "wave." The "x" was added to denote excellence or perfection, and the "i" added to make it pronounceable. The idea: "the perfect wave."
CEO and background: Ramin Sadr, holder of 15 NASA achievement and recognition awards for his work in the space program. In the 1980s, he led a team at University of California's Jet Propulsion Lab to design a prototype all-digital receiver for NASA's deep space program. His previous entrepreneurial gig was founder, president and CEO of Telecom Multimedia Systems, which created WAN infrastructure gear, and was acquired by Inter-Tel.
Funding: $22.5 million to date ($20 million from a second round in June 2007), mainly from Oak Investment Partners, with InnoCal Venture Partners and Red Rock Ventures.
Who's using the product? The product was released in April, no customers yet announced. Extensive, year-long field trials were held with Kraft Foods, Kimberly-Clark, and Procter & Gamble.
Company name: Ozmo Devices
Founded: December 2004, as H-Stream Wireless
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
What does the company offer? A driver for your Windows laptop, and a small, low-power, Wi-Fi silicon-and-software component that manufactures build into its headsets, mice, keyboards, printers, speakers, webcams and anything else you might want to connect to. In effect, your laptop's Wi-Fi radio becomes an access point for these peripheral devices.
Ozmo developed a TDMA-like extension to the 802.11 protocol, making it possible for the laptop and devices to exchange information on a predictable schedule (your laptop uses 802.11's contention mechanism to connect to an access point). The 9Mbps connections are point to point within a 30-foot range, and can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Security is enabled with the Wi-Fi Protected Setup standard, from the Wi-Fi Alliance. Users see and control connections just as they would with wired USB devices.
Why is it worth watching? If peripheral vendors buy into this scheme, and install the Ozmo silicon, you'll be able to dispense with Bluetooth, and create an extensive wireless personal area network based on your PC’s Wi-Fi adapter, as easily as plugging USB devices into a USB host controller. The protocol and silicon have been engineered to use very little power, according to the vendor.
How did the company get its start? Co-founder Katelijn Vleugels had been designing analog and radio-frequency circuits for WLAN chipsets at Atheros. According to her husband, and co-founder, Roel Peeters (currently Ozmo's vice president of marketing), by 2004, she was convinced that Wi-Fi could network all kinds of devices, not just PCs, and was frustrated with the apparent limitations of Bluetooth. She started puzzling over how to connect peripherals via Wi-Fi signals.
How did the company get its name? Picked as the "most appealing" from a list of possible names.
CEO and background: Dave Timm, formerly managing director and founder of the notebook power business unit, for Maxim Integrated Products, where he spent 15 years. It grew to a $250 million-a-year business.
Funding: $13 million to date, from Granite Ventures, Intel Capital and Tallwood Venture Capital.
Who's using the product? Belkin, Wolfson and Avago have announced they'll use the Ozmo chip in future products.