Panasonic Forms Embedded Linux Incubator, Seeks Collaborators

The Technology Collaboration Center would host and collaborate with consumer electronics Linux startups in exchange for rights to invest in products.

Panasonic Ventures has opened an embedded Linux incubator at its Digital Concepts Center in San Jose, Calif. The Technology Collaboration Center (aka Linux Collaboration Center) hopes to host and collaborate with four or five consumer electronics Linux startups, in exchange for first right-of-refusal on up to 10 percent of the startups next institutional funding round.

Brad McManus, director of Panasonics Digital Concepts Center, says that the Linux Collaboration Center has not yet confirmed any resident companies, although it is in advanced talks with one. He says the Center is most interested in "middleware and applications, but also tools," and also, "user-interface technologies, such as multi-modal input, possibly involving speech... ubiquitous networking, making devices communicate with each other—generally, technologies built upon a standardized software architecture."

McManus says a growing focus on standardized software architectures inspired the company to launch its Linux incubator. McManus said, "We want to see our R&D work apply to many different products. And, as in-car devices need to interoperate increasingly with mobile devices, which need to interoperate more with home devices, it helps to have a standardized software architecture."

Panasonic uses other open source OSes in addition to Linux, but Linux has become a top choice due to its cost-effectiveness and robust nature, according to McManus.

Panasonics Digital Concepts Center took an equity investment in MontaVista in March of 2002, and Panasonics parent company, Matsushita, inked a broad licensing deal with the Linux startup last fall, giving it company-wide access to all of MontaVistas products. McManus said he expects Panasonics relationship with MontaVista to expand in the future, and he confirmed that MontaVista Linux plays a role in the companys "standardized software architecture: "Were looking to optimize our products on Linux—but especially for MontaVista Linux."

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