Apple Co-Founder Wozniak, Motorola To Develop Tracking Products

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc., and Motorola Inc. on Thursday said they will work together in developing wireless products for tracking people, pets and things.

January 8, 2004

2 Min Read
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Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc., and Motorola Inc. on Thursday said they will work together in developing wireless products for tracking people, pets and things.

The products under development by Motorola and Wozniak's Wheels of Zeus Inc. will leverage the latter company's wireless platform comprising low-cost radio tags and radio base stations combined with satellite location-finding technologies.

WOZ officials declined to discuss actual products under development with Motorola, but said the company's tracking system, which is based on the global positioning system, or GPS, can be used to protect goods against theft and to protect children and pets.

For example, parents may want to track the whereabouts of a child playing outside or coming home from school. The system also could be used to monitor the movements of an autistic child or elderly parent suffering from dementia.

In relation to goods, WOZ's own consumer research found that people in areas such as Scottsdale, Ariz., where there were a lot of golf courses, were interested in keeping track of golf clubs. Skiers were interested in tracking skis."Those are the kinds of applications we're focused on initially," Gina Clark, vice president of business development and marketing, said in an interview from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., where the Motorola deal was announced.

Among the advantages of the WOZ system over current radio frequency identification technologies was in distance covered. While current RFID antennas can pickup signals within a couple of dozen feet, WOZ's technology could track people and goods in a radius of miles, Clark said.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based WOZ, a play on Wozniak's nickname, is the most ambitious entrepreneurial effort by Wozniak since starting Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976. WOZ was founded in 2001.

Motorola plans to develop WOZ-based products through its broadband-communications unit, which also makes modems and television set-top boxes. The new tracking products, part of Motorola's "connected home" strategy, would be sold through direct channels and service providers. A timetable for availability was not disclosed.

"Our strategy is to work with select market leaders that will uphold and support our philosophy of developing useful and easy-to-use products," Wozniak said in a statement. "Motorola not only supports that philosophy, but also provides a strong brand and distribution channel necessary to deliver WOZ-based solutions to consumers on a massive scale."Motorola's broadband unit currently sells products through 7,000 retail locations in the U.S., including Best Buy, Circuit City, Radio Shack and Wal-Mart Stores. The company's board recently named Ed Zander, former president and chief operating officer of Sun Microsystems Inc., chief executive of the Schaumburg, Ill., company.

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