Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the April 28, 2004
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in The Fast Lane
The satellite TV set-top box (STB) you buy next year could have a personalized program consultant with Sarnoff software.
In its most elaborate form it could be used to activate a TiVo like machine. Once it learns the programs you want, it could suggest a program onscreen or trigger the TiVo like machine to record it. It can also stimulate the TiVo to record while the set is off.
On April 20 Sarnoff Corporation announced a set of software products called SarnoffSmart. The SarnoffSmart engine draws on Sarnoff’s resources: model-driven search, data mining, machine learning, and anomaly detection technology.
Target buyers for this software include STB makers such as Motorola and SA (Scientific Atlanta), which can implement inside their own operating system whatever features the customers want. Sarnoff’s advantage is that its product is efficient and minimizes the need for CPU horsepower.
SarnoffSmart observes what viewers watch and builds a set of preferences, says Rafael Alonso, director of convergence technology at Sarnoff. "With hundreds of channels available on today’s TV systems, just searching the program guide for a program you want to watch is a daunting task," says Alonso. The possibilities:
Rearranging standard on-screen program guides to list available shows in order of predicted viewer preference, instead of by channel number
Recommending shows that match viewer taste, either through an on-screen prompt or a picture-in-picture preview
Scheduling a personal video recorder to capture programs of high potential interest when a viewer is not watching, then announcing their availability when the viewer turns on the TV.
Even after SarnoffSmart has built a personalization, it continues to adjust the profile.
Another Sarnoff innovation, announced the week of April 20, is that its digital TV software can convert an uncompressed analog or digital program into a single MPEG-2 transport stream. Clients for the various forms of this project include system suppliers, television stations, and videophiles and independent videographers.
The flip side of SarnoffSmart service is that advertisers can use it to match messages to a target audience. Once it gathers data on favorite programs, it can send out ads to one viewer, and ads on cosmetics to another viewer, both on the same program. Targeted advertising is one of the wonders of digital television, and TiVo recently used its viewer tracking abilities to boast that it knew how many of its viewers replayed Janet Jackson’s wardrobe problem. Getting "tracked" could be a turnoff to privacy conscious consumers.
NRG Energy, a wholesale power generation company, will vacate six floors of the AT&T Tower in Minneapolis, Minnesota and, sources say, will move its headquarters to 50,000 square feet at the Carnegie Center. According to the state government, which announced the move on Tuesday, April 27, NRG will bring 140 new jobs, and a 10-year $7.5 million Business Employment Incentive Grant helped lure the firm to New Jersey.
Though NRG is emerging from bankruptcy, it has a market capitalization of more than $2 billion, and has facilities in 18 states and seven countries.
A Scot will be installed as the sixth president of the largest Presbyterian seminary in the country, replacing Thomas Gillespie. Iain R. Torrance is currently moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and faculty dean at the 500-year-old University of Aberdeen. He also teaches Christian ethics at Christ College in Aberdeen and edits the Scottish Journal of Theology.
Educated at Edinburgh Academy and Monkton Combe School in Bath, Torrance has a master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh, a Bachelor of Divinity degree from St. Andrews University, and the doctoral degree from Oriel College, Oxford University. His books include "Ethics and the Military Community," and he the editor of "Bioethics for the New Millennium."
Medarex has shipped an early version of its antibody therapy for SARS to a Sinovac Biotech Inc. in China, responding to Sinovac’s company’s rush request. Sinovac (SNVBF) will put the antibodies through animal trials to see if the antibody can neutralize the strains of the SARS virus.
Medarex is working with the Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories of the University of Massachusetts Medical School on an accelerated basis to develop and test the fully human antibody for SARS, based on the UltiMAb Human Antibody Development System. When the request was made, the antibody was shipped within hours.
SARS, a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, is reported to have killed 774 people in 2003.
The Illinois-based mortgage company has settled a dispute with the state department of banking and insurance that it unknowingly overcharged on home equity loans. The result is that each of its New Jersey customers will get a $1,700 refund. The $1.2 million error, discovered during a routine audit in 2002, involved excessive mortgage "points," fees due for amounts borrowed.
Port Washington, New York-based Prism Visual Software has made Billtrust its billing partner of choice. Prism users can choose to outsource their entire bill processing through the Prism and Billtrust tools. The first Prism customer to begin automating billing processes with Billtrust is Wisconsin-based Hellenbrand Water Conditioning.
Klatzkin & Company sold its computer consulting sister company, Klatzkin Technologies, to MSI Technologies, and Dale Baver, the former CEO of that firm, is working from an office in Pennsylvania (800-525-0052; 215-860-1977).
The certified public accounting firm, Klatzkin & Company LLP, retains its office at Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road, where Barry Snyder is managing partner.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has cleared Therics to sell a new microfabricated bone void filler for skeletal defects. It is part of the new line of bone graft products that are designed with calcium salt, creating an interlocking network within the bone defect that can help the bone to heal.
Therics is a subsidiary of Tredegar Corp., and its microfabrication processes are licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Therics’s manufacturing processes include TheriForm, a fabrication process with three-dimensional printing.
Princeton Lightwave Inc. bought a product line, the Optical Channel Monitor, from Somerset-based OFS. It has hired all current OFS employees connected with the design and manufacture of OCMs and now has 30 employees.
Princeton Lightwave develops and makes near infrared high power lasers and specialized detectors for communication, sensing and instrumentation markets, and the acquisition will enhance its optical networking subsystems. The price was not disclosed.
Headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, OFS has other facilities in Denmark, Germany, and Russia, and in Connecticut and Massachusetts (www.ofsoptics.com)
"This is a very good agreement for all the parties involved, including customers and employees," says Yves Dzialowski, CEO of Princeton Lightwave. "Our company and our management have significant experience in this space and are committed to support the customers and grow this product line."
Less than a year old, Navinta LLC has moved into Lower Ferry Road. The 10-person pharmaceutical R&D firm is working to develop new drugs.
The Brokers Group expanded within Montgomery Commons. Founded more than 10 years ago, it is a staffing and solutions firm focusing on temporary, temporary to permanent, and permanent staffing solutions. The company’s specialties include technology (IT), clinical, and finance and accounting; it also does some contingency-based executive search. It has other offices in Philadelphia and New York.
Glen Eagle Advisors has expanded from an office in Cranbury to Franklin Corner Road. Also here is Glen Eagle Investments LLC. A company representative declined to be interviewed.
In mid April the emergency power system company expanded from 7A South Gold to 1 South Gold Drive. Expanding from 30 to 56 employees, it does sales, service, and installation of emergency power systems (U.S. 1, July 9, 2003).
When Allied Security bought Professional Security, it moved across Route 1 from 4365 Route 1 South to 4270 Route 1 North and changed its name. The move took place earlier this spring.
Breze Inc. has moved from Quakerbridge Road to a familiar office park, Princeton Meadows Office Center. Breze started out there in 1991. It does computer consulting and software support – data warehousing and data mining, pharmaceuticals, drug discovery, clinical trials, sales, and marketing.
The commercial real estate firm moved from Iselin to Tower Center II on March 29. With 14,000 employees worldwide, the Los Angeles-based firm company has 250 offices in 48 countries. The headquarters is in Los Angeles.
Bill Hoffman of National Waterproofing moved within Pennington Business Park from Building A to Building D, where he has 500 square feet. A dozen people work from this office, and they do waterproofing for foundations – sprays, sealants for new construction – and crack repair.
"Almost all our business is new construction," says Hoffman, "and the headquarters office in Berlin does the retrofitting of wet basements." Hoffman grew up in Philadelphia, where his father worked for the electric company, and he came to this business from having learned to pour concrete. "I had a knack for it," says Hoffman. He is in charge of the business in north and central New Jersey.
Aegis Lending has moved from 2271 Route 33, Golden Crest Corporate Center to Marlton. This office formerly belonged to Conseco and dealt in sub-prime residential mortgages of up to $750,000. It was also known as UC Lending.
Bala Consulting Engineers plans to close its Windsor Corporate Park office next month. Initially it will consolidate at its headquarters in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, but then may open another New Jersey office. The company does multi-discipline consulting and engineering, focusing on commercial office space, higher education, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries.
The collections firm moved from 3705 Quakerbridge Road in University Plaza II, Mercerville to Trevose, Pennsylvania.
Lofberg Enterprises has closed its office on Mercer Street. The phone has been disconnected but is still listed on the website. the company did general construction and construction management.
James M. Mets, formerly of Uffelman Rodgers Kleinle & Mets, has moved from Jefferson Plaza to Woodbridge, where he opened a new firm. He focuses on labor and employment law, particularly the representation of police and fire unions.
Joseph Gulino will move ERA Princeton Corridor from its office on Old Trenton Road to become part of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. at 33 Princeton Hightstown Road. Long & Foster is the number one independent, privately owned real estate company in the United States, and last year its total sales volume was more than $43 billion.
"I have long admired Long & Foster," says Gulino, pointing out that Long & Foster has more than 200 sales offices and 12,000 sales associates "but has managed to remain fiercely independent and wildly successful." Gulino co-founded his company in 1993 and is now the sole owner. His office was ranked 138 out of 2,800 ERA offices nationwide. His 40 sales associates will join him, and together with the staff of Long & Foster Greater Princeton, they speak 16 different languages.
After 20 years as a real estate broker, managing residential real estate offices, Michael Elliott has opened a flat fee real estate listing service, a franchise that has been operating since 1976. Help-U-Sell now has 500 United States offices.
"We give sellers options," says Elliott. "The more work a seller wants to do the more money they can save on their own." He uses the example that if a home seller is going to pay a broker six percent on a $300,000 house, the seller could save $18,000 with his service.
Previously, Elliott managed the Hamilton offices of Coldwell Banker and Prudential Fox and Roach. A Hamilton native, his father worked at General Motors, and one of his two siblings works at Re/Max Tri County.
"For $4,950 we do everything but show the house," says Elliott. If the homeowners are working full time, they will not have a problem showing the house, he claims. "Most buyers work full time too. Ninety percent of our showings are after work or on weekends." Sellers who want a real estate agent to show their own home, or who want their listings put into the multiple listing service, can purchase those services under a different plan.
Elliott claims that he does more for a flat fee than most brokers do for a percentage fee: "We help the seller arrive at a reasonable price, set up a marketing strategy, write the ads, take the pictures, place the ads, provide property flyers and info boxes, and make sure the buyer can get their financing."
He does all that personally, whereas in a traditional office, "you have to rely on the entire sales staff to deliver the services." He distinguishes his business from a similar company, Foxton’s (formerly Your Home Direct) because his franchise is locally owned, has an actual office in the community, and does a great deal of local advertising.
Generally, sellers do not list their homes with the traditional multiple listing services, but Elliott claims that the relocating buyer is more apt to find his listings because his agency advertises heavily, a full color ad in the Real Estate Book magazine, plus a virtual tour, a multi-photo website, and flyers in an info box. "Buyers in the market see our ads, whether they are working with an agent or not," says Elliott.
Earl Miner, 77, on April 17. An emeritus professor at Prineton University, he was a scholar of English and Japanese literature.
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