Belkin to Acquire Cisco’s Home Division

Belkin has just struck a deal to acquire Cisco’s Home Networking Business Unit, which will bring Linksys’ name, products, technology and employees under its new owner’s umbrella. Mothballing isn’t in the cards for Linksys, however, as Belkin plans to keep the brand alive and even offer support for its existing products. The two networking titans haven’t said a peep regarding a sticker price, but they expect the pact to be finalized in March. Once the transaction is rubber stamped, Belkin figures it’ll compose roughly 30 percent of the home and small business networking retail market in the US. Hit the jump for the press release.

Press Release

BELKIN ANNOUNCES INTENT TO ACQUIRE CISCO’S HOME NETWORKING BUSINESS UNIT

    Acquisition to Bolster Belkin’s Position in the Home Networking Market, Building on the Strong Linksys Brand and Innovative Suite of Product and Software Solutions

    Playa Vista, Calif. – January 24, 2013 – Belkin, a private company based in Playa Vista, Calif., with operations and sales in more than 100 countries, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Cisco’s Home Networking Business Unit, including its proven products, technology, well-known Linksys brand and talented employees. With global operations, Linksys’ main office is located in Irvine, Calif.

    “We’re very excited about this announcement,” said Chet Pipkin, CEO of Belkin. “Our two organizations share many core beliefs – we have similar beginnings and share a passion for meeting the real needs of our customers through the strengths of an entrepreneurial culture. Belkin’s ultimate goal is to be the global leader in the connected home and wireless networking space and this acquisition is an important step to realizing that vision.”

    Belkin intends to maintain the Linksys brand and will offer support for Linksys products as part of this transaction. All valid warranties will be honored by Belkin for current and future Linksys products. After the transaction closes, Belkin will account for approximately 30 percent of the U.S. retail home and small business networking market.

    “Linksys pioneered wireless connectivity capability around the globe, and has a strong brand renowned for its premium market position, the strength of its installed base and its proven dependability. Linksys users benefit from peace of mind in their home networking environment. At Belkin we have developed great insight into consumer needs, and the experiences, solutions and products we bring to the market, including our WeMo home automation platform, will help us to grow Linksys’ market presence,” Pipkin said.

    “Linksys is one of the leading home networking providers and has created a market-leading suite of products and services to meet customer needs,” said Hilton Romanski, VP Corporate Business Development, Cisco. “While part of Cisco, Linksys has continuously innovated, while strengthening the brand and expanding its market leadership. As part of Cisco’s commitment to service providers, we are pleased about this strategic relationship with Belkin to build on Linksys’ position of strength.”

    “With complementary innovation and engineering strategies in the combined organization, Belkin will be able to create new opportunities for consumers, distribution partners and resellers, and will have the strongest retail presence in the U.S. networking marketplace. Belkin also will have access to a large installed base that will be able to upgrade their networking environment to take advantage of new technologies in the smartphone, tablet, notebook and home automation arenas,” Pipkin said. “Additionally, Linksys will enhance Belkin’s capabilities to meet the needs of the service provider space and small business users.”

    Belkin and Cisco intend to develop a strategic relationship on a variety of initiatives including retail distribution, strategic marketing and products for the service provider market. Having access to Cisco’s specialized software solutions across all of Belkin’s product lines will bring a more seamless user experience for customers. Merging the innovation capabilities of Linksys and Belkin provides a powerful platform from which to develop the next generation of home networking technology.

    “At Belkin, we’re committed to enabling great experiences for users of today’s mobile and connected home technologies,” Pipkin said. “The acquisition of Linksys and the combination of Belkin’s and Linksys’ expertise and innovation will position us to meet the demands of today’s rapidly evolving advances in technology. We look forward to honoring the heritage of the Linksys brand and investing in the continuing evolution of its product portfolio. Together, we will provide a powerful, simple to use, and reliable wireless and networking platform for the markets we serve.”

    Specific financial terms of the transaction are undisclosed. The transaction is subject to various standard closing conditions and is expected to close in March 2013.

Source: Engadget

FDA Approves Robot Doctor

The FCC approves consumer electronics devices for the masses, but what about the FDA? Well, they make sure that all things medical are fit for public service, and the latest candidate to gain approval from this regulatory board is the first robot doctor developed by iRobot. Wait a minute here, doesn’t iRobot churn out Roombas? Yup, that is correct, and the robot doctor in question here is the RP-VITA that comes in the form of a telepresence robot. It will rely on a large display with an iPad interface to enable a doctor to examine a patient remotely, and it works swell in pre-op and post-op situations, not to mention during surgery as well.

This FDA clearance is significant, since it proves that a robot is able to move about safely and independently through a fast-paced, chaotic and demanding hospital , and would also mark a rather significant technological milestone for the robotics and healthcare industries.

The RP-VITA is currently on sale by InTouch Health, where it will fall under the guise of the company’s latest flagship remote presence device. iRobot has plans to explore adjacent market opportunities for similar robots, and we do wonder what other kinds of medical robots are on their way.

Press Release

Source: Ubergizmo

Scientists Will Restart Avian Flu (H5N1) Research Following Moratorium

Understanding how the virus passes between mammals is a critical public health issue.

Scientists studying avian influenza, a potentially deadly disease that can sometimes infects animals, and humans, announced that their work will resume following the moratorium that began last year amid safety concerns.

Because of widespread controversy over the risk of a more transmissible virus escaping or being used for bioterrorism, influenza researchers around the world agreed in January 2012 to stop any work that could generate more transmissible versions of the avian flu, also known as H5N1. What was originally supposed to be a 60-day pause turned into a yearlong moratorium.

Today, the same 40 researchers who signed on to the moratorium announced at a press conference and in letters published in both Science and Nature  that the work would resume in countries where governments have agreed to oversight and lab safety measures. In a teleconference, the researchers said that work at specialized labs in the European Union, Canada, and China will restart, but that scientists in the U.S. and Japan still await final guidelines and decisions from their governments.

The researchers say it is important to resume the work to prepare for a potential bird flu pandemic, and that the pause has given governments time to review their biosafety and biosecurity policies and researchers time to explain the public health benefits of the work.

“We believe this research is important to pandemic preparedness,” said Yoshihiro Kawaoka, an influenza researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo. “Understanding how the avian virus is adapted to mammals will lead to better surveillance and vaccines,” he said.

H5N1 is deadly to birds and rarely infects humans, but it has killed some 360 people since 2003, according to the CDC. To better understand how the virus could potentially be spread between humans through sneezes or coughs, researchers study molecular changes that can lead to easier transmission. This has been done in the lab with ferrets and in some cases the work has led to the creation of more dangerous strains of the virus.

Generally, the virus does not pass efficiently between people or ferrets, but Kawaoka and other researchers have found that the wild viruses could easily mutate into a strain that could transmit between mammals by sneezes or coughs. A study conducted by Ron Fouchier, a flu researcher at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, prior to the moratorium found that only five mutations in the H5N1 virus would create this more dangerous strain. At least two of the mutations have already been found in natural viruses, said Fouchier.

“The research is clearly of importance to public health,” said Fouchier. “With the knowledge of these mutations, we can do better surveillance.” If they start popping up in nature, “then countries should eradicate those outbreaks with a strict sense of urgency,” Fouchier added.

The work will also help scientists better evaluate antiviral drugs and vaccines, Fouchier said. Currently, such treatments are tested on either seasonal flu virus or ordinary H5N1, but these viruses behave differently in ferrets than the more transmissible strain.

Such testing is conducted in facilities with specialized air filtration and air-flow systems that require scientists to work in sealed “space suits.”

“We can conduct these experiments safely,” said Kawaoka. “There can never be zero risk, but the risk can be minimized and managed.”

Source: MIT Technology Review