Bill Grace

"Turning Practical Science into Commercially Viable Products"

   
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Communications Server System Design

  ( PDF version )

More Power for a Flight Simulator

  ( PDF version )

Special Features for an Outdoor Kiosk Enclosure

  ( PDF version )


Case Study: Communications Server System Design

Situation

In 1992 Evergreen Systems was losing market share for its communications server products just as laptops were beginning to see widespread use. People who were traveling expected to be able to dial in to their offices and use the office computer networks just as if they were in the office. The market was demanding elimination of differences between dial in sessions and in-office use of normal desktop computers. To stay in the remote access market Evergreen needed to offer a new server product which was literally made from the same core components as typical desktop computers.

Assignment

As President I took direct responsibility for successful development of the critically needed new product.

Actions

Results

The new system enjoyed high customer satisfaction and was completely compatible with regular desktop computers. For five years Evergreen Systems successfully marketed the product line realizing multi-million dollar annual sales until the design itself was sold for more than $1,000,000 to Data General in 1998.

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Case Study: More Power for a Flight Simulator

Situation

The world's leading provider of civil aviation flight simulators faced a product development snag in 2002. Modern flight simulators employ extensive computer graphics. This company had implemented a new strategy to replace expensive custom made graphic circuitry with more cost effective commercial graphic circuitry. The first such product line was doing so well that a second product line was being developed. A key feature of the second product line was higher performance graphic circuitry requiring correspondingly greater amounts of electric power. Manufacturers of power supplies could not deliver anything with enough power to satisfy the need.

Assignment

I was brought in by a manufacturer developing a new chassis for the second simulator product line. I agreed to design and develop a way to use two supplies together for the single motherboard in the chassis to provide the needed power.

Actions

Results

The company successfully shipped the second line of simulators and noted in their 2003 annual report that this second line of simulators ("Tropos") has enabled them to increase market share by simultaneously improving performance and lowering costs. Following successful deployment of the second line of flight simulators, the company developed a third line ("Medallion") using still higher performance graphic circuitry. I was brought in again in spring 2003 and produced an enhanced version of the power subsystem. This work has enabled the company to ship systems taking advantage of the highest performance graphic circuitry available and maintain their market lead and billion dollar revenues.

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Case Study: Special Features for an Outdoor Kiosk Enclosure

Situation

In early 2000 a Texas computer integrator was competing for a contract to supply an outdoor kiosk system to startup advertising company. Market testing with a rough prototype of the system had indicated a very attractive increase in convenience store sales as a result of placing the kiosks on top of gas pumps. Hunt Oil was close to committing to deployment of the new system at its Travel America service stations nationwide. The system had to handle harsh temperature ranges and the allowable hardware cost was limited. Having made it to the final round of vendor selection, the integrator discovered it was on the verge of losing the contract to another vendor's industrial PC product because of the temperature range issue.

Assignment

The chassis manufacturer working with the integrator on the bid asked me to enhance the product design to win the contract.

Actions

Results

The integrator won the contract with BillBoard Video. Hunt Oil contracted for systems at 600 Travel America locations pending a successful test installation to demonstrate successful operation in harsh weather conditions. A complete system was installed at a station in Houston where it passed Hunt Oil staff's evaluation and signoff process.

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