In-Q-Tel invests in ultra low power Wi-Fi

In-Q-Tel, the U.S. intelligence community's strategic investment arm, is investing in ultra low power Wi-Fi semiconductor technology from GainSpan Corp. of Los Gatos, Calif.

The single-chip solution for wireless sensor networks and other embedded applications enable devices to run for up to 10 years on a single AA battery. The market for wireless sensors is expected to grow from 19 million units in 2008 to well over 180 million in 2012, according to West Tech­nology Research Solutions.

"GainSpan's innovative technology helps address critical technology needs of the U.S. Intelligence Community," said Troy M. Pearsall, executive vice president of architecture and engineering at In-Q-Tel. "The power requirements of Wi-Fi have traditionally limited its application in sensor networks, but GainSpan's low power Wi-Fi devices enable new classes of solutions that will provide key technology capabilities to both the government and commercial markets."

GainSpan’s chip will enable the agency to remotely monitor or even turn off and on objects via Wi-Fi, said Kimberly Tassin, spokesperson, GainSpan. This connectivity between and among objects is sometimes referred to as an “Internet of Things,” she said. GainSpan’s products are used in four ma­jor applications: asset tracking, cold-storage monitoring, building automation and smart home energy.

"Also, as a member of In-Q-Tel's technology partner portfolio, In-Q-Tel provides us introduction to other portfolio companies where there are opportunities for knowledge sharing and co-development." said Vijay Parmar, president and CEO, GainSpan.

Although the amount of the investment was not disclosed, most of In-Q-Tel’s investments are in the $1 million to $3 million range and are in products past the research and development stage, said Donald Tighe, In-Q-Tel's vice president of external affairs in a GCN story last year. The goal is to speed commercialization rather than engage in research, Tighe said.

The not-for-profit, private, independent In-Q-Tel has invested in more than 140 companies and delivered more than 240 technology solutions to the intelligence community. GainSpan is a spin-off of Intel Corp. 

About the Authors

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.


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