Detroit Labs, Compuware & More on the Mobile Opportunity in Michigan
(Originally published by Xconomy Detroit, April 13, 2012)
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By Sarah Schmid
We talked to some of the key players in Michigan's mobile technology sector to find out their thoughts regarding the industry's effect on our economy, and what they feel our state's unique strengths and weaknesses are. We got a wide variety of (and sometimes conflicting) answers, which is probably indicative of mobile tech's fledgling status in Michigan. It's a new industry, and while we have a good start, it has a long way to go.
Ron Harwood, CEO, Illuminating Concepts
About the company: Based in Farmington Hills, Illuminating Concepts has taken the old-fashioned studio control room mobile. The company specializes in "immersion experiences" and uses apps to control all forms of lighting, sound, and special effects at venues like Disney World and Campus Martius. After 9-11, the company delved into emergency alerts, way-finding, and digital signage. "We're taking tech literally to the street, and all of it is controllable on the fly through mobile devices," Harwood says.
The company is currently developing a way to use street lights to enhance mobile devices. For instance, Harwood says you'll soon be able to "talk" to street lights and ask for directions or emergency assistance through your smart phone. (Harwood describes a scenario where you could ask a street light in Florence, Italy how to get to the Badia Fiorentina and the lights would strobe the way for you to follow like a trail of breadcrumbs.)
Michigan's strengths: "Our strengths are our universities. Everybody on our team who's involved in mobile apps or wireless control either attended or graduated from Wayne State University, College of Creative Studies, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, or another Michigan school."
Michigan's weaknesses: "The economy. The fact is that cities desperately want our equipment to pump life into their downtowns, but the government money has dried up and the tax revenue is gone. However, we continue to stay here even though we've been asked to open offices in New York and Los Angeles."
Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.