Let’s say you are walking along a crowded street during your lunch break in mid-Manhattan—or San Francisco or Chicago or even New Orleans during Mardi Gras. You need to return a few phone calls and this is your best chance to do it. You whip out your smart phone.
Your connection is very slow. You’ll never complete all your calls at this rate. But wait—isn’t that smart phone on a 4G LTE network? What is happening?
There’s no brownout. It’s just that all those people sharing bandwidth simultaneously creates overloads for even the fastest wireless networks.
What would an innovative entrepreneur do?
If you are an experienced innovator like Steve Perlman, you know that the first step in innovating is to ask the right question. Perlman must have asked himself, what would enable users (customers) of devices that rely on wireless networks to have the fastest connection without any interference, even in a crowded city?
The birth of DIDO
Bloomberg’s Business Week reported that DIDO, an acronym for distributed-input-distributed-output, “locates a device like a smartphone and uses complex mathematical operations to create a unique signal—hence the personal cell idea—just for that device. … [Y]ou can place the pCell transmitters anywhere and not worry about their signals bleeding into each other. And instead of sharing a signal, each person gets to tap into close to the full capacity of the transmitter.”
Perlman says his innovation “will forever change the way people communicate, watch movies, play games, and get information.” That’s more than an innovation—that’s a game changer.
Is it ready to be a game changer?
After years of research, Perlman’s vision of a wireless personal cell or “pCell” has been realized. Bloomberg’s Business Week’s latest report acknowledges that witnessing a demonstration of the pCell in Perlman’s lab “proved not only that the high-speed wireless technology worked but also that it would work with existing devices that support LTE.”
The innovation itself is not enough
Once the product was realized, Perlman leaped forward to production planning. If you have been reading our blog, that leap should send up a red flag.
For pCell to perform the way Perlman intended, “a company backing the pCell technology would need to build out a large data center in addition to deploying the transmitters. … As people move about, the servers must keep recalculating and processing a new stream. Perlman expects that a single data center could satisfy the needs of a city like San Francisco.”
How many companies have signed up? Bloomberg’s Business Week reports that, “Perlman has been unable to tempt venture capitalists with the technology.” Not the outcome desired.
The lesson, and a question for you
Perlman asked the right question first. Check. Then he created the product, demonstrated that it works in his lab, and planned for its potential launch.
What steps did Perlman omit, which led to skepticism rather than enthusiasm from venture capitalists?
In other words, is the pCell ready for Shark Tank?