Local mystery company IndraNet has finally shown its hand this week by revealing a four-pronged business strategy.
The plan includes high-speed wireless data connectivity, the development of a vehicle that runs on air and a new physical transport network, a new power grid and a distributed supercomputer platform.
Christchurch-based IndraNet initially offered a share float in June1999. The company raised almost $3 million from over 1300 investors.
IndraNet's technology is a closely guarded secret, but revolves around a wireless networking system that takes its cues from the Internet.
Each user site will have a computer-controlled receiver, known as a minder, exchanging data at ultra-high frequencies.
IndraNet claims the minders are self-managing and self-evolving, based on a new approach to distributed artificial intelligence.
"We are network people. We are working on a revolutionary communication system," says IndraNet managing director, Louis Arnoux, who describes IndraNet's technology as a "new architecture for networks".
"It eliminates cabling, wiring, local exchange, central exchange, cells - all of that goes." In its place, IndraNet sees a wireless network of devices.
Arnoux's vision extends to the selling of these devices - or rather, the non-selling.
"The largest carpet manufacturer in the world does not sell its top-of-the-range product. They sell the usage of carpets," says Arnoux.
The company lays the carpet, and when the time comes to replace it, it takes the old one away and lays a new one. The old carpet is fully recycled and the user gets a new one.
"Our plan is to do the same for telecoms, energy, transport [and] computing."
Arnoux will not sell supercomputers, but will use IndraNet's networking technology to sell computing time.
"It [the IT industry] is a racket - every 18 months you have to buy hardware, then you must upgrade your software. By bypassing that cycle it is easier and cheaper for the user."
IndraNet's plans start with the construction of a plant in Christchurch to build the zero emission vehicles, which use compressed air instead of fossil fuels. Arnoux aims to begin work on the plant next year with the first cars rolling out in 2002.
In January, IndraNet signed a partnership deal with Star Bridge Systems, a US-based company that claims to have developed a supercomputer that would sell for under $US1000.