MADISON, Wis. -- Ian Chen, executive vice president of software licensor Sensor Platforms, abruptly left the company last week.
Chen's departure was not officially announced by the company. In interviews, neither Chen nor Sensor Platforms CEO Dan Brown yielded any clues to explain the sudden management changes beyond the possibility of a personality clash between the two executives.
Sensor Platforms, founded in 2004, is a venture-financed company located in San Jose, Calif. The company licenses algorithmic software and platforms built around the growing number of sensors installed in smartphones and tablets.
Sensor Platforms offers what it calls “FreeMotion Library.” It’s designed to combine and process data from various sensors inside mobile devices. The library lets carriers, handset vendors and chip companies interpret the users’ movements and situations, and infer their intentions. Sensor Platforms does not develop hardware, like sensor chips. Rather, the company is pursuing a software-only business model.
According to Brown, the departure of Chen does not imply that big changes are forthcoming. The CEO, however, added that Sensor Platforms is planning to “enter a couple of new markets” this spring. He declined to discuss it further, saying that the disclosure would be too premature.
Brown also pointed out that Sensor Platforms’ cash flow is about to turn
positive. Describing the company as “on the borderline" of
profitability. “Nobody–also in the software-only business–is in the position to say that," Brown said. Given that, there is no reason to
suspect that “our business model is flawed or we need to change it,” he
Sensor Platforms’ potential customers are in different parts of the
mobile industry, ranging from carriers to mobile phone companies and
semiconductor companies. Sensor Platforms claims that it has live
customers, but has thus far declined to name names.
With the spread of sensors to so many devices, design wins for
sensors/MEMS are based neither on a process technology nor on a chip,
but on “software differentiation,” Brown observed. If accurate, this is
good news for Sensor Platforms.
Sensor Platforms’ library, for example, makes it easy for device OEMs to
purchase sensors from multiple suppliers without damaging the user
experience, according to the company.
Meanwhile, the company claims that the library also automatically
optimizes sensor and platform power consumption based on user movement
and contexts, to enable longer battery life.
However, the diversity of Sensor Platforms’ potential licensees and the
capabilities of its FreeMotion library could open a rift among disparate
players in the mobile food chain.
Junko, the business model of Sensor Platforms (SP) is basically 'fix it in software' to deal with sensor out put challenges -noise, lack of linearity, combining and correlating sensed outputs between sensors (sensor fusion), etc. If I have to borrow a lexicon from the Cloud Computing space, what SP offers is a virtualized sensor. How ever, many multi-DOF (degrees of freedom) sensor vendors have been embedding program codes and/or offering free / open source versions -a direct threat to SP's business model.
More over, fixing it in software may not be the most optimum and energy efficient way to do things. But SP's advantage is one can build systems with sensors from multiple vendors and use SP's API to tie them together. How ever, iOS already has API's do this (don't know if that is better or worse than SP's); I imagine Android may have similar API's too.
SP's site still lists Ian Chen as one of the exec's.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.