I have known Hamid Farzaneh for quite a while. Great resume with such former positions as COO of Genesis Microchip, co-founder of Motion Sense (a MEMS controller), Executive Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Silicon Optix Inc. He is now the CEO of DisplayLink. We rarely speak of business, as he is always involved in domains with which I am not that familiar. But for some reasons, I recently wanted to know what Displaylink was really about. Really cool technology!
Six monitors at once for one PC or one notebook: Simple idea, right? Just imagine that instead of accumulating open applications on your notebook or your desktop when you are at the office, you could display your Excel, your PowerPoint, your email, your Word, your Internet browser on different screens, see all your applications at once, and drag and drop data across them transparently with no need to switch and click like a maniac to reach any of them… Or if you are a photographer, what if you could display different versions of a picture to better see them all at once? That’s what DisplayLink enables. Simply watch this one-minute or so video to get a feel of what I am talking about:
Presentation by Dennis Crespo, Executive VP, Marketing & Business Development
Using multiple applications comfortably: All the main concepts of an optimal user interface for the desktop were defined in the 1980’s by Apple, and incrementally improved since then, by Apple and most other vendors. Over the last few years, the increasing popularity of small devices has again placed usability and comfort of use in the limelight. However, while miniaturization had led to new significant improvements, and economies of scale have made displays increasingly inexpensive, little attention has been paid to the ergonomics of multiplying the viewing surface at the office or at home as we use several applications. This is what DisplayLink addresses, enabling substantial productivity improvement.
Sure, the ability to organize a virtual desktop over several monitors is not new per se, but is hardly accessible to most of us – and existing technologies do not permit to scale to a multi-screen environment from a thin, small and elegant notebook! Key to the unique power of the DisplayLink’s network display technology is that DisplayLink allows to connect video monitors to desk- and laptops via USB, the most universal and the simplest plug-and-play way to connect to any peripheral. In other words, DisplayLink replaces the VGA analog standard that IBM introduced back in 1987 as well as the DVI digital protocol, which both are point to point, where a monitor is a slave to the desktop. It also spares users from having to add graphic cards that are expensive, power hungry, and often require an IT specialist. And none of these former solutions will let you connect a notebook to several monitors (typically up to six), of various sizes and resolutions. Forget about graphic cards there! Now how can DisplayLink so transparently leverage the power of USB? Because of a lot of smart software and a new chip. The company’s Web site provides a short overview of the technology. http://www.displaylink.com/products.html
The alchemy of innovation: Innovation is the epiphanic encounter between several things, good timing, technology acumen, authentic chemistry between people, and even luck to name of few. The fact that the sales of notebooks have overtaken those of desktops only exacerbates the need for this type of solution. “I am sure that there are companies around the world that have tried, but they may not have tried the right way and at the right time,” Hamid Farzaneh says. “However, the fact that you have the right timing is not enough,” he adds. “You also have to solve serious technical challenges. Some innovations are only permitted by a unique combination of skills that are not customarily found at once – especially in start-ups. DisplayLink combines software competency, hardware competency, and chip competency. In theory, you could do something resembling what we offer through software only using VNC (Virtual Network Computing) or more modern incarnations, but the latency would be too high. You wouldn’t be able to move from one monitor to another naturally. For a good user experience that exceeds what can be achieved with traditional VGA or DVI connectors, it is critical to feel that moving the mouse or windows across monitors is fast and smooth, as if any of the screens was directly linked to the computer. In order to get this level of performance, again, you need the competency in terms of understanding software at the operating system level, networking and communications, and know how to do build cost-effective powerful chips.”
You want DisplayLink today! Yes, you can get it today. The company has been delivering on its promise in a record time. At the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was considered as “the most killer technology of all because of how practical it is,” by InformationWeek. At the time Samsung and LG were already building the company’s technology into their displays. A year later, the company’s technology is broadly available in a variety of products such as monitors, docking stations, projectors, mini personal displays or adapters, all easily linkable over USB to a notebook or to a desktop PC. The most recent introductions were an HP USB docking station, a Samsung “Sidekick” monitor targeted at notebook users for secondary or tertiary displays, an IO Gear wireless adapter kit (for displays or projectors), a Nanovision 7” monitor linked and powered by USB or USB to VGA or to DVI adapter that are offerd under many brands such as eVGA. These products can be found online or at major retailers such as Frys’ and most sport the label “DisplayLink Certified” that signal the best performing devices. A long list of companies offering products with DisplayLink technology can be found at the company’s web site: http://www.displaylink.com/shop.html
More information about the co-founders of the company: Martin King, Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser, & Tim Glauert: http://www.displaylink.com/board_and_founders.html & http://www.displaylink.com/team.html
For more information about Video Graphics Array (VGA): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VGA; about Digital Visual Interface (DVI): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Visual_Interface; about USB; about Universal Serial Bus (USB): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB; about Virtual Network Computing (VNC): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VNC