A Snapshot of my Public Talk at Xerox PARC: “Software Beyond the Screen”

Earlier this month, I delivered a talk as part of the monthly Xerox PARC forum where I explored what defines “software beyond the screen” and what it means for our future. Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) has a long history, dating back to 1970, that includes inventing many of the technologies that power our technological world (e.g., laser printers, Ethernet, GUI, NLP, Fiber Optics, etc.). In 1988, they even coined the phrase “ubiquitous computing” to refer to mobile computing!

My goal is to take this vision of ubiquitous computing from 30 years ago and drive it further by enabling software to leap off the screen into the physical world around us. In this way, software can understand, interpret, navigate, and run in the real world.

Below are a few highlights and clips from the talk I delivered on the evening of Thursday, September 12th:

History of software

I started my talk with the idea that software shows up in different ways and in different form factors every few years. Software used to look like wires, then big boxes, then CD-ROMs, then apps, etc.

Starting at 4:04

Software Development Toolset

I then talk about the amazing software development toolset that has been built up over the last 50 years. It consists of three elements: reuse, abstraction, and agile.

Starting at 10:45

Entrepreneurs lost in a forest

Armed with this software development toolset, I share how I think about entrepreneurs searching for product-market fit. It reminds me of someone lost in a forest who gets periodic help:

Starting at 21:26

Implications for business

Then, I discuss what the software development toolset mean for business:

Starting at 23:24

Definition of smart hardware

Next, it’s on to smart hardware. How does this software development toolset define “smart hardware”:

Starting at 26:27

Criteria for smart hardware

The, I share a simple test for determining if something really is “smart hardware”:

Starting at 27:23

Examples of smart hardware with analysis

Finally, I analyze some examples of smart hardware using our new frameworks. This includes Halter, Rocket Lab, Diligent Robotics, and others:

Starting at 29:45


I conclude with a summary:

Starting at 43:41

The full 45-minute talk is here: https://youtu.be/FyWM50S2KEQ

Are you a founder in the smart hardware or machine learning sector? Let’s talk! Leave a comment or get in touch with Ubiquity Ventures.

Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm focusing on early-stage investments in software beyond the screen, primarily smart hardware and machine intelligence applications.

Ubiquity Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on “software beyond the screen” — turning real world physical problems into software problems.

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