A singularity is the moment at which technical progress will accelerate at a rate beyond our comprehension. What does the name mean in the context of your product?
We felt the name Singularity reflects our vision of the product’s potential impact on the industry. More simply put, we look for Singularity to accelerate the adoption of RFID enabled solutions beyond our comprehension of its use today.
When talking about open source, perceptions of how it evolved may vary. Developers learned early on that many fundamental algorithms and tools were being written over-and-over again. Thus, open source development surfaced as an intelligent means to write it once, and distribute it free to everyone, so development teams could focus on more challenging tasks. As technology progresses the complexity of software increases, but continues to follow the same evolution, meaning that product functionality migrates to a point where differentiation between vendors is a challenge. Operating systems, databases, application servers, integration engines are all following this evolution at a rate that seems to be accelerating every year.
We see Singularity and other RFID related software is part of significant movement toward implementing “sensor event driven software.” Open source middleware and integration software such as Singularity will accelerate the adoption of RFID enabled solutions by providing the fundamental software components necessary for almost any enterprise. Singularity is a platform that will be leveraged to deliver new innovative commercial products. We also see it being used for a variety of applications such as mobile commerce (RFID payments via mobile phones, smart cards, as well as handheld or vehicle mounted RFID devices,) commercial transportation flow and security, along with many others that we have yet to discover.
What license did your company choose for Singularity?
We choose the Apache 2.0 license because we felt it offered the most flexibility and is simpler to use when integrating with proprietary commercial products, or using it in a corporate deployment. We also realized that the GPL an LGPL licensing schemes where too restrictive and cumbersome to allow Singularity to be incorporated into commercial components and would potentially limit the use and evolution of the product.
The Apache license serves two purposes; it keeps the software freely available, and also allows software vendors to leverage it in their commercial software without having to change their commercial licensing approach.
How much support have you had from outside developers? Who are they? Are commercial competitors assisting with development?
The response from our recent news release has been extremely positive. Until our recent announcement the development effort was internal to i-Konect. We thought it was important to introduce the project with more than just a name and a strategy. We wanted to convey a clear message that Singularity promotes industry standards while maintaining flexibility for innovation, scalability, adaptation and change.
We are currently in talks with several companies and individual developers. We expect to make further announcements about those relationships in the very near future.
Regarding commercial competitors assisting in the development, we welcome their participation, as we believe this project can help everyone build more successful businesses by lowering the cost barriers. We have received inquiries from a several integrators (large and small) that view Singularity as a tool to help them expand their market opportunities.
What is the role of OSS within an industry focused on retaining intellectual property rights?
We believe intellectual property (IP) rights bring value to commerce by providing companies an incentive to develop new technologies. It makes sense for a company to reap the rewards of their efforts if they shoulder the entire risk of an innovative technology development. However, open source software gives us the ability to spread that risk/investment amongst a global resource base, functionally creating a company without resource boundaries. That equates to broader talent, increased resource pool, faster time to market, as well as broader adoption, therefore faster evolution of the product. We also believe there must be a better balance to the issuance of patents relative to the protection of true innovation versus the evolution of current technologies.
With the availability of affordable high quality collaboration technology today, exploiting the use of a global base of technical and management talent just makes sense. There is no reason for any of us to work in a vacuum. Open source is not limited to software either. There are open source communities that publish their hardware designs, such as Opencores.org (typically release VHDL – Verilog Hardware Description Language) to describe the physical digital components of a product.
We view Singularity as part of a broad industry movement toward open source. If you look elsewhere there are many other open-source products and development tools that are being used around the world. They include free International telco quality calls through VoIP services to collaborate across the globe, operating systems, databases, application servers, and development, and productivity tools. Many of these products and services are viewed as “commercial quality”. People are innovating on those free products to get to the next level; faster, cheaper, better. While intellectual property is beneficial, OSS offers more value to a broader group, especially when trying to accelerate adoption to make a technology more compelling to end-users as well as would be commercial innovators. We also anticipate that the Singularity initiative will evolve to include many other open source products.
Open source is not the answer to everything, but it does provide a compelling alternative to the eternal quest of capturing IP in any form, no matter how mundane, only to justify the value of a company to investors.