We talk to Verizon about LTE, take a tour of their SF Innovation Center

Verizon's massive interactive touch wall

Neowin recently got a chance to take a tour through Verizon Wireless's Innovation Center in San Francisco. What is an Innovation Center you ask? As the name implies, it is an office designed with forward thinking in mind, a place to push boundaries and think about the future use scenarios even if they may not be marketable. In short, it is the forefront of technology,the place to go if you want to try out something cutting edge or see if an idea on paper works in reality.

There is a lot to understand about what Verizon is doing behind the scenes to make its technology possible for end user consumption. While the resource is limited, the company fully believes in the technology and is investing billions to make its rollout a success. Verizon is not shy to tout how aggressive its rollout is and they are looking to match the same type of coverage we experience with EVDO currently on the Verizon network. 

Third-party contractor testing center inside Verizon's innovation center

Verizon has dedicated work areas at its office for companies who they collaborate with so that they can be close to the technology and even offers up testing facilities on-site to developers. The goal for Verizon is to make their LTE a platform, not a service.

If you think about it, this is a big shift in thinking for a carrier who used to be about selling a phones and texting packages. The reason this is an important shift is that Verizon and others recognize that LTE is a market-shifting technology and Verizon is pushing to be the preferred supplier of this service.

Verizon's LTE APIs available to third-party vendors

One example how Verizon can use this service with third-party developers is a creative use for geofencing without the need for an app. Your device knows where you are all the time and using Verizon APIs, the device can be triggered to perform certain actions dependent on your location with or without the use of an app. Now, before we go any further, Verizon has placed privacy at the top of their priority list. In fact, Verizon already has a working security model in place with the default being that your location is hidden. If you so chose, you can provide the company or third-party developer, as little as 24 hour access to your location. If you select the 24 hour option, as the name implies, after 24 hours your location is once again hidden until you give permission again; Verizon will offer app by app permission sets to further your privacy concerns. 

Verizon also a ton of toys in their office including an interactive wall (trying to get a review unit installed at my house, kidding, but also kind of serious) for product exploration that is massive in scale. The wall uses infrared technology and supports multiple users and multiple points of contact. 

Demonstration of the head-mounted display

They also have a head-mounted display that works with voice commands to interact with an interface to provide information for situations where your hands are in use. Imagine a construction worker needing to find out how hard to torque a bolt while on the job site when both hands are in use, using the head-mounted display he/she can find the information without breaking their workflow.

Verizon had a ton of other demonstrations on how always-available data connections can change commodity type devices and applications. The key take-away is that Verizon has LTE, it is being rolled out a ridiculously rapid pace, and Verizon wants to be the premier provider of mobile broadband. After taking a tour of their facility, seeing their vision for consumer and enterprise customers, Verizon is headed in the right direction and the next few years will usher in the connected device era in ways we never imagined possible in the previous decade.  

Thanks to Verizon for allowing us to tour their facility and providing insight into their LTE vision.

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8 Comments

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WOW Verizon haters for the first 3 posts.

@Zippo7: Your information is quite flawed. Verizon bought the 700 band of spectrum for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is that it penetrates BETTER than what the spectrum used for 3G does. Lower frequencies not only penetrate better but as said better from a different source "Due to the longer nature of the wavelength at lower frequencies, radio signals tend to hug the edge of obstacles such as buidling and trees, and mountains rather than be blocked by them. A lower frequency signal has a much better chance of finding the cracks, windows and doors in the building than a higher one does, which will simply be blocked by the wall."

That being said, yes, there maybe something about newer buildings, but for the majority you will see better bars in areas where 3G wasn't as good. Compared to how ATT and Sprint are rolling out 4G yes Verizon is rolling out very quickly. Keep in mind theres not just some switch that turns on 4G, the towers and equipment have to be updated and it is costing Verizon a ton of money to do this. It takes time.

Half way through the tour did you find the doors stopped working and you then had to wait for several hours before you could continue using them, all whilst Verizon denied that there was a problem?

Forgive me if I don't take their "ridiculously rapid pace" of LTE roll out seriously. I live about 45 minutes from Dallas and still don't have LTE here, even though we were one of the first areas with 3G. And as far as I can tell, only very few places in Texas do have LTE.

selphj said,
Forgive me if I don't take their "ridiculously rapid pace" of LTE roll out seriously. I live about 45 minutes from Dallas and still don't have LTE here, even though we were one of the first areas with 3G. And as far as I can tell, only very few places in Texas do have LTE.

Your not missing much if you live/work in any kind of medium to large energy efficient building, the signal just does not penetrate in the same way that 3G does. Here in the heart of Baltimore, MD where 4G is available it does not work in any of the newer office buildings unless they have antenna repeaters inside, 3G does work with 1-2 bars if that. As soon as I step out the front door of any of these buildings I have a solid 4G signal so until Verizon deals with these massive shortcomings with their 4G signal the whole thing is just a waste of time and money.

selphj said,
Forgive me if I don't take their "ridiculously rapid pace" of LTE roll out seriously. I live about 45 minutes from Dallas and still don't have LTE here, even though we were one of the first areas with 3G. And as far as I can tell, only very few places in Texas do have LTE.

We are in downtown seattle and still dont' have it. I assume suburbs of Dallas have a long wait.