« August 2005 | Main

September 06, 2005

Congratulations Chari!!!!

Technology Review published its annual list of top 35 technology innovators under 35 today and it gives me immense pride and pleasure to note that my fellow blogger, college classmate, and one of my closest friends Chari is on the list and in addition is one of the three people to be profiled.  For those without access to TR, here is the complete article:

Narasimha Chari, 31
Tropos Networks
Setting the mesh networking standard

In the late 1990s, when Wi-Fi-equipped laptops were still a novelty, Narasimha Chari saw the possibility of creating large communications infrastructures using wireless mesh networks--which at the time were the exclusive province of the military. In 18 months of moonlighting while a physics grad student at Harvard University, he created elegant algorithms that tailored mesh networking for routine civilian communications.

Tropos Networks, the company Chari founded in 2000 with coinventor Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, helped launch commercial wireless mesh networking. With their straightforward installation--routers attach to lampposts--and attendant low cost, mesh networks have eased into plentiful use both outdoors (on campuses, in public safety networks, and at gatherings such as festivals) and in (in hospitals and factories). But Tropos is focusing on the rapidly growing market for networks that serve entire municipalities. That's the application of choice for one-third of the company's 200 customers.

Tropos's services, which are built around Chari's routing protocols, dominate the nascent mesh-networking industry. Telecommunications companies fear the proliferation of the technology, seeing it as a threat to their Internet access businesses. In fact, the telecommunications industry is lobbying for legislation granting them--not local governments--first dibs on municipal Wi-Fi installations. Meanwhile, Tropos is gaining customers at a rapid clip; 75 signed on in the first half of 2005.

Tropos's expansion is bringing Chari full circle. In 1992, after receiving the third-highest score out of 80,000 on the Indian Institutes of Technology entrance exam, Chari left India for Caltech. Later, while at Harvard, he had late-night talks with Caltech pal Srikrishna about providing anytime, anywhere communications in developing countries. Now, as Tropos ships its first systems to India, Chari is seeing his innovation connect back to his homeland.


Its an incredible achievement that is richly deserved and could not have happenned to a nicer guy. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention one other thing - TR has a policy of recognizing only one person for an achievement.  I disagree with this philosophy.  Any scientist or technologist would tell you that innovation rarely happens at an individual level - it happens through active collaboration with other folks and upon building on things other people have already invented.  In this context, Tropos Networks was a brainchild of both Chari and Sri.  Sri was equally instrumental in the creation and commercialization of this world class technology and should get half the credit.  Together these guys have built incredible technology and a world class company - Tropos Networks.   I feel  honored to know them both.

Posted by Venky Ganesan at 11:11 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (48) | TrackBack