Motorola licenses Wheels of Zeus for electronics

Motorola's broadband group plans to incorporate into its products wireless technology developed by Wheels of Zeus, the latest venture of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
Matt Hines
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Motorola's broadband communications group said Thursday that it is planning to incorporate wireless technology developed by Wheels of Zeus, the latest venture of Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, in future products.

The company's broadband division said it intends to license Wheels of Zeus' WOZ Platform to develop new networked consumer-electronics devices. The Wheels of Zeus technology includes a wireless system reference design, a wireless network and related services meant to serve as a foundation for location, status, control and communications functions in various gadgets.

Motorola Broadband specializes in digital entertainment, telephony and wireless home networking products.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Wheels of Zeus' ultimate goal is to build a wireless framework of so-called identification tags and receivers, dubbed the WOZNet Network, that utilize the same 900MHz spectrum found in most cordless telephones, along with global positioning system (GPS) technology, for tracking or controlling devices for both homes and businesses.

The company's Web site lists everything from locating shipping containers to keeping tabs on household pets as potential applications for the technology. Wheels of Zeus has said that it hopes to have products manufactured by its licensees available sometime during the first half of this year.

Motorola represents the first company to publicly announce plans to license the Wheels of Zeus' technology. While the company failed to cite specifics regarding what sort of devices it intends to develop using the wireless system, executives indicated that the first products would be aimed at networking in the home.

"Motorola is committed to making smart, simple and fun broadband products that support our vision of the 'connected home,'" John Burke, corporate vice president of Motorola's consumer solutions business, said in a statement.

"The WOZ Platform directly supports this vision by offering consumers highly specialized capabilities that will help people stay connected to what is important to them," he said.

Gina Clark, marketing chief at Wheels of Zeus, said the Motorola deal represents a significant step forward in bringing the company's technology to market.

"This is a huge milestone from a strategic standpoint," said Clark. "We've been looking for the right partners from the start, and Motorola was at the top of that list based on their expertise in wireless radio and their broad distribution capabilities."

Wheels of Zeus derives its name from Wozniak's nickname. The computing icon founded the company in 2002 after spending nearly a decade away from the industry while devoting his time to educational and philanthropic activities.