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May - 2009 - issue > Top 25 companies
Technology for Next Gen Electronics
ST Team
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Look at the digital TV market. Each day, the players are adding new features to the set-top box, adding more value to their product. When you see a mega star elaborate through the eye catching ads, you are quick to notice it and ask for the feature on your next shopping spree. But have you ever wondered about the brains behind those new and innovative technologies? One such company is NextBiT Computing.

The company develops and provides intellectual property and solutions which help drive next generation audio, video, and data enabled consumer electronic, broadcast, and handheld devices. Middleware, user Interface toolkits, multimedia applications, and standards compliance solutions from NextBiT find use in devices such as IP set-top box, personal media player, IP enabled DVD players, digital signage solutions, video phone, and video surveillance. “We position ourselves as a one stop consumer electronics design shop. Our prime focus is on development of up and coming technologies that can be licensed to OEMs and ODMs, helping them cut down their internal product development time. We work with our customers right from the concept stage to mass production,” explains Vishal Somnath, CEO of Next Bit Computing.

Recently an original equipment manufacturer in the consumer electronic space required the NextBiT IP STB design to be customized with IP STB, with video recording and thin computing applications. One of the main concerns with the product’s mass production was that the firmware needed to be copy protected and secured (No one should be able cope the firmware image from the device).

NextBiT quickly customized the IP STB design to suit the customer requirement. With mass production in mind, the design was further optimized to hit the lowest bill of materials possible. NextBiT completed the board customization and prototyping of the hardware design in less than 45 days, following which putting together the software as per the customer’s requirement took another two months time. The product with IP multimedia stream playback, personal video recording, trick modes, electronic program guide, video on-demand, jukebox, and a production ready user interface were completed in three months, and went into mass production in the fourth month.
NextBiT’s Protexion, a firmware protection engine, helps ensure that the image written to the ROM cannot be copied or replicated. The IP, design libraries, and customization services provided by NextBiT help customers cut down the product development time. The superior performance of the NextBiT IP components means a product that is much faster and responsive compared to competing boxes in the market. The Protexion engine ensures that the box cannot be duplicated by rogue manufacturers.

The flexible licensing options mean that the customer has a product with a definite price edge over competitors. The customers are so impressed with NextBiT, that they have already initiated two more new designs.
Founded in 2005 by Vishal and his younger brother Sameer, who was fresh out of engineering school at the time, and later joined by Sudarshan, Vishal’s second sibling, the company focuses on the domain of multimedia consumer electronics and broadcast devices. This singular domain focus enables them to understand the market needs and work before hand to keep solutions addressing these needs ready.

According to Somnath, "When a customer comes to NextBiT with his requirement, he can expect that the product he is looking for is already available with NextBiT in a more or less complete form." The subsequent effort is mostly on product customization as per the customer’s needs. This approach helps customers reduce the time to market drastically.

This also means that the company invests significantly in research on upcoming industry trends and standards. This helps the customers to liaison with the company to evaluate new technologies at an early stage, without significant spend on R&D budgets.

Somnath adds, "Consumer electronics is an industry of continuous innovation. Every new successful product idea or new concept presents in itself a multi-million units market. Our play is related to per unit royalty on the licensed technology. Our market is directly linked to the sale of consumer electronics chipsets, which in itself is a billion dollar market."

With its well laid out roadmap, Nextbit is steamrolling forward to emerge as a winner in the consumer electronics IP licensing market in a short span of time.
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