Verizon Wireless, one of the nation's leading wireless carriers, knows that if it wants to keep pace in the fast-moving wireless market, it needs to not only maintain a speedy and reliable network, but also work with companies to develop products that leverage that network.
So in 2010, it began work on its first Verizon Innovation Center in the Boston suburb of Waltham, Mass. Today, the company operates two dedicated Innovation Centers - the second is located in San Francisco, Calif. - where it welcomes companies to develop new products and ideas and then build upon them in its unique lab space.
Within these Innovation Centers, Verizon offers its partners the tools and expertise to integrate cellular wireless with their products; perform radio-frequency (RF) testing and validation; wireless certification; product incubation and rapid prototyping; product development and optimization services; and much more, all under one roof, according to Praveen Atreya, director of Verizon's Innovation Program.
Verizon does not charge any fee for participation, it requires no rights to intellectual property (IP), and it does not demand exclusivity on products and services developed inside its Innovation Centers. As a result, companies can develop products that are compatible with a variety of networks. Since
the Waltham-Mass. center opened its doors in 2011, more than 30 network-connected products or services have been fully developed in one of the two centers and shipped to market, and another 30 are expected to be finalized and released before the end of the year, Atreya says.
"Our job is to accelerate innovation," Atreya says. "We have the best network assets. We are opening up those assets to let people leverage them and build world-class solutions."
I visited Verizon's Waltham Innovation Center this week, where Atreya and his colleague Gagan Puranik, associate director of Verizon's Innovation Program, walked me through the center's display area and its labs. Check out the embedded video for an inside look.