AT&T is adding two new innovation centers to its existing three, with a new Plano, Texas center focusing on what At&T dubs machine-to-machine connectivity and a new Atlanta innovation center more focused on consumer internet of things products. AT&T calls the innovation centers Foundries, and it has one in Palo Alto, Calif., one in Israel and one in Plano, Texas outside of Dallas.
In fact, the new M2M center will be built on top of the existing Foundry office, but because it will have a more hardware-oriented focus requires new space and different employees, said Abhi Ingle, VP of Ecosystem and Innovation at AT&T. Both of the new Foundry spaces are aimed at keeping AT&T ahead of the curve when it comes to connected devices. the Plano space will have a more corporate focus, think tracking fleets of cars or industrial applications, while the Georgia location will be near AT&T’s show home for its Digital Life connected home products.
And for those who are curious about the Digital Life efforts, which I covered in April, Ingle said that one of the goals of the Atlanta Foundry will be to get more devices and partners working with the Digital Life ecosystem. This is important, because right now the product is closed and competes with other connected home products that are more open and connect with existing consumer products already on the market. That offers consumers more flexibility.
As for the Foundry experience, it’s AT&T’s effort to attract developers and partners in a bright, open space that feels more Silicon Valley than old-school telco. The idea is to assemble teams with various skill sets to approve projects and services for AT&T’s network.
AT&T has worked with API startup Apigee in its Palo Alto Foundry space and networking infrastructure startup Intucell in its Israel Foundry office. Given the focus on connected devices, Ingle said these offices will have hardware engineers on staff as well as equipment like 3-D printers and laser cutting machines.