AT&T launches new innovation centers in Atlanta, Plano

$100 million program aiming to bring products to home and car automation and M2M products to market faster

AT&T Tuesday announced plans to open new innovation centers in Atlanta and Plano, Texas, to open in coming months, giving it a total of five such centers worldwide.

The Atlanta center, located next to the Georgia Institute of Technology, better known as Georgia Tech, is sponsored by Cisco in collaboration with the university and state and local governments.

It will focus on developing home automation and security services and products around AT&T's Digital Life services, as well as connected car technologies, said John Donovan, senior executive vice president for AT&T technology in a blog post.

The new Plano facility, to be located one floor above an existing AT&T innovation center, will be devoted to machine-to-machine and connected devices technology.

"The goal is to identify groundbreaking ideas, whether inside or outside AT&T and turn them into products and services as quickly as possible," Donovan said. The centers aren't showcases or even research labs, but are "launching pads" for next-generation applications and services, he added.

Since the $100 million innovation center program launched in 2011, AT&T has launched dozens of products. The program has taking some ideas from initial idea to product beta in about six months -- three times faster than was done in the past.

Donovan cited two award-winning projects that came from the labs, a personalized video bill service to help explain wireless bills and an updated Self-Optimizing Network (SON) first created by Intucell. A SON is described as management technology that detects when a cell tower is overloaded and automatically shifts users to a nearby cell tower. To date, AT&T uses the technology in 30 markets.

In addition to the two new centers and the other Alcatel-Lucent-sponsored one in Plano, AT&T also has a foundry innovation center in Palo Alto, Calif., that's sponsored by Ericsson, and another in Ra'anana, Israel that's sponsored by Amdocs.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His email address is

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