Monday, February 6, 2023

“Unlike Apple TV, Our Product Gives Freedom To Choose”

Satish Mugulavalli, co-founder and chief architect of Verismo Networks, speaks to Dilin Anand of EFY about the company--Dilin Anand

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Internet tv, internet video device, tv set top box, iptv, apple tv, google tvVerismo Networks is a privately held Internet TV platform company headquartered in the USA with a research and design centre located in India. They have developed a multiple award-winning customisable end-to-end solution for delivering Internet videos direct to TV. Here is an exclusive interview of the co-founder and chief architect of the company.

Q. Could you introduce us to your company?
A. Verismo is an Internet TV startup. When we started in 2005, we noticed 2 things: Broadband penetration was growing at a tremendous pace worldwide. When I say broadband, I mean high speed broadband. We had broadband starting in 2000 but pretty much in 2003, 2004 and 2005 we began to see ADSL2, ADSL2+ and cable modems with higher bandwidth. So these were capable of doing large data transfers at high speeds. The second data point that we saw was that a lot of things were getting digitised. Your digital cameras had reached a pretty serious tipping point, and cell phones started coming out with integrated digital cameras. Then there were these independent media producers. As the cameras started getting more digital, the cost of these cameras also dropped. For instance, if you were a wildlife enthusiast you could take a non-professional camera, like a digital camera, and actually shoot decent quality content. So you as a normal consumer would have started generating content. You now have the tools to generate content without having to go to a serious professional. So we noticed that on one side digitisation is increasing and on the other side Internet was growing as a medium for high bandwidth. So we realised that there was a serious play for the convergence of these two.

So if there’s a product that brings digitised content over the Internet, then there’s business to be built. So Vijay Maheshwari and I started the company in the US in 2003. 2005 is when we established Verismo in India as our R&D arm. So the Headquarter is in Silicon Valley and the R&D is in Bangalore.

To know the impact of the Indian arm, there are 100 people here and 10 people there. The HQ only takes care of things like gaining investment and dealing with customers and so on. The complete Research and Development in the Bangalore arm.

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Our product right now is in its 4th generation. You must have seen the TV set top boxes that make use of close loop content providers. Now all that content is also being made available on the Internet as the content providers have moved to the Internet and all devices are now Internet capable.

What we do is we built a full end-to-end system, so if you have a capital set of consumers we can get you in business in 3 days.

Q. Is this a captive company?
A. The India unit is a 100 per cent subsidiary, so in that sense it is a captive company. All the product development happens here and we don’t design for any other company.

Q. What is your most innovative product?
A. It’s an Internet TV set top box. In 2009, the ISA (Indian Semiconductor Association) awarded us with the most innovative electronic product built out of India.

Q. What is the name of this product?
A. It’s actually called an Internet TV set top box. Since we don’t go the consumer directly, we basically work on an OEM model. For example, Netgear, a company that makes routers and other media products, will license the whole technology from us and probably put their own casing and go the consumers. Netgear calls it NTV. Our Indian client whom we have licensed it to sells it with the brand name of ADTV set top box.

Q. What differentiates your product from similar ones in the market?
A. We have won several awards from CableLabs, Audioholics and other organisations. Essentially, the innovativeness is creating an Internet TV device, which is very small. The usual TV set top boxes are usually very small. So the innovation centered around how to shrink the device such that you could even keep it in your pocket. The US consumers, which was our initial market, are very picky about these things. For example, this is a TV connected product, so you need to keep this near a TV. These consumers would keep the TV on a rack that is designed such that the DVD player is fixed in one place, your screen is fixed in one place and so on. They are very sensitive about where do I keep the box, where does it look good – they can’t leave it hanging somewhere. So what we thought was we had to change that consumer mindset. What we told them was to not look at this as another box, it is so tiny that you could keep it at any part of the system and it would not be even visible. The idea was that you could keep it a trivial part of your entertainment system – you could even Velcro it. So it’s like the box is not even there.



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