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Wozniak anoints leaders for Zeus venture

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak names the management team that will lead Wheels of Zeus, which promises to "help everyday people track everyday things."

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Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak on Monday announced the management team that will lead his latest venture, Wheels of Zeus, in designing wireless technology for consumers.

Wheels of Zeus, or WOZ--a play on Wozniak's nickname--appointed Rich Rifredi its chief operating officer. Rifredi is best known as one of the co-founders of Pixo, a wireless phone applications developer recently acquired by Sun Microsystems. Rifredi shares Wozniak's roots at Apple, where he worked as a product manager for the Mac maker's PowerBook laptop line.

WOZ also announced that it hired Frank Canova to run its product development efforts. Before joining the company, Canova held the position of vice president of worldwide product engineering at handheld maker Palm, where he helped design the original Palm Pilot PDA (personal digital assistant). Before Palm, Canova worked at IBM on the development of the smart phone.

Also named to the WOZ management team was Gina Clark, who will be responsible for building strategic partnerships and controlling the company's marketing strategy. Clark comes to the company from PalmSource, which designed the Palm OS software for handheld devices. Clark also has worked at Apple.

WOZ is working with some $6 million in venture capital and plans to make wireless devices that it claims will "help everyday people track everyday things." The company is working on the first version of its WOZ Platform, a wireless technology that includes a system reference design, a wireless network and an online service.

The company remains somewhat vague regarding just what kind of services its devices will provide, simply stating that its systems "will help people take better care of what's important to them." Wozniak has said that WOZ products will take advantage of global positioning system technology to build location, status and control, and communications tools.

WOZ said in a statement that its WOZNet network, a local wireless network providing "long range and long battery life at a low cost" remains the centerpiece of its efforts. The company reported it is working with partners to bring products to market and plans to publicly unveil the WOZ Platform and WOZNet in the first half of 2004.

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