Nokia Opens MIT Research Center

The handset maker is setting up shop in MIT's back yard in order to share wireless research efforts and drive new technologies into its products faster.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Wireless handset maker Nokia is hoping to speed the process of product innovation through a new research and development effort launched in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Nokia and MIT officially opened a new joint research facility in MITs Kendall Square neighborhood here April 20, telling media and analysts gathered for the event that the facilitys existence will greatly improve the two organizations ability to share breakthroughs in wireless technology.

The research center will specifically tap into work being conducted at MITs CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory).

While Nokia has teamed with MIT for research efforts since as far back as the early 1980s, officials said the opening of the Cambridge research center will allow for the sort of daily interaction necessary to move development efforts forward at a rapid pace, and push some of those technologies into Nokias products sooner.

"Were moving from a world where we look at the device as a phone into a world where we view devices as mobile gateways," said Dr. Bob Iannucci, head of Nokia Research Center, the companys primary R&D arm.

"This is one of the most exciting areas for innovation and new technologies, but it represents its own world of challenges; we want to create real information gateways that move information from the desktop into the pocket."

MIT officials said that working more closely with Nokia will help its own researchers remain at the top of their field and keep projects focused on the types of applications that customers will truly demand.

"We must understand what the issues are at companies like this or we will become irrelevant," said Prof. Rodney Brooks, director of CSAIL.

"I think weve had good results working together so far, but were really only starting to understand the issues."

Among the specific projects the companies have already teamed around are efforts aimed at developing new ways to securely connect various devices to each other over the Internet, building new operating system-level technologies aimed at securing data on mobile handsets, and creating more energy-efficient device hardware components.

One of the projects, dubbed SwapMe, is attempting to build a development platform for so-called Semantic Web applications which could someday allow devices to access Web-based information based more on users preferences and the context of the information they are seeking than on traditional data indexes.


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The Semantic Web is a project being spearheaded within CSAIL by Dr. Timothy Berners-Lee, who is credited with launching the worlds first Web client in 1990. Berners-Lee, who is a chairman at CSAIL, is listed as one of the contributors to SwapMe.

Next Page: Additional efforts.