AT&T opens innovation hub at Georgia Tech

AT&T officially opened its high-tech innovation center at Georgia Tech on Tuesday, a collaboration that will put engineers and executives together to dream up and market new technology.

This is AT&T’s fourth Foundry. The center, at Georgia Tech’s Technology Square campus in Midtown Atlanta, is the latest example of Atlanta’s growth as a hub for wireless and mobility operations. Atlanta’s Foundry will focus on consumer products and applications, he said.

The goal is to “continue to build a mobile economy that is helping to shape our lives and hoping to change the way we live our lives,” Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said to a packed room of state and local officials, Georgia Tech employees and AT&T management.

AT&T has three of these centers already, in Israel, Texas and California. Staffers at the centers have worked with software developers and engineers from outside firms on more than 60 ideas for new programs, apps and devices.

Although AT&T Mobility is based in Atlanta, putting its new Foundry here wasn’t a sure thing. Georgia Tech and the city’s other institutions including Georgia Tech, its entrepreneurial culture and its focus on innovation were key factors, said Ralph de la Vega, AT&T Mobility’s chief executive officer.

“We’re very choosy about where we invest,” de la Vega told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview last week.”I think we have the right ingredients to make it happen.”

The fanfare included several prototypes that AT&T hopes to have hit the market within the next year.

On display was a new smartphone that links up with AT&T’s U-verse video system. The phone, which is scheduled to be available early next year, includes wireless caller ID, the ability to show photos on your television and a souped up mobile phone locating system.

AT&T also is working with a startup company called Soneter to develop a product that can detect water leaks and alert homeowners so they can remotely shut off the water before a flood happens.

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