6. Aug 2014

Local firm grabs attention at mobile tech show

Blu5 at mobile tech show

Blu5 View is charting its own track in the business of creating information security in mobile environments, reports NG ZHUO YANG.

In the company of the big boys in infocommunications technology, local enterprise Blu5 View’s manga-inspired mascot, PipeComm Princess, stood out like a rose among the thorns at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
There, at the premier event of the mobile industry, Blu5 View, a provider of hardware and software solutions, set up its booth – just a table and two banners – surrounded by the likes of industry giants Amazon, Intel and Nokia.
At the event attended by more than 85,000 visitors from 201 countries, Blu5 View still managed to garner its share of attention, thanks in part to the PipeComm Princess, whose manga charms were designed to appeal to today’s young engineers.

‘Not the usual’

Blu5 View’s managing director Paolo Rossini described the PipeComm Princess as the perfect manifestation of the mantra of the seven-year-old enterprise – to seek a different approach that is “not the usual”.
Indeed, Blu5 View’s entire business model was meant to be something out of the ordinary from the outset.
Mr Rossini, formerly the managing director and chief executive of Telsy, the information security arm of Telecom Italia Group, said: “After spending many years in the industry, I figured out that there was a market space where a new company with a different approach could fit in.”
The vacuum in the market he was referring to involved information security in mobile environments.
Blu5 View develops and manufactures secure platforms to support integration and custom developments; its business-to-business solutions cater to, among other groups, systems integrators, application developers and end-users in the corporate or public sector.
Mr Rossini said of this business of creating trust: “Trust is a keyword… You need to (be able to) trust the tools that you are using in your everyday business life.”
Blu5 View has been coming up with hardware inventions through its own research and development since 2009. These include a USB Secure Environment (USE), a silicon chip Embedded Secure Environment (ESE), and, most recently, a micro Secure Environment (mSE).
Undiscerning outsiders who think of the mSE as just another micro SD would be surprised to find out that, despite its minuscule size, it possesses the computational power of a third-generation iPhone.
Mr Rossini claims that the mSE, developed by Blu5 View last year, is currently the most powerful micro SD – with processing power on board – available on the market.
Coupled with its memory function, the mSE is “not the usual” micro SD in that it enables application developers to work on it directly.
“You need some device where you can actually run a part of the application, and be sure that the core function of your software runs in a place where you trust it,” said Mr Rossini.
He pointed out that the mSE is thus useful for the development of high-value corporate applications.
He likened Blu5 View’s hardware inventions such as the mSE to a “seed of trust” planted in each mobile device: “To be trustworthy, the seed of trust needs to be something completely and physically separated, so it needs to be hardware.”
This hardware finds its complements in the company’s software solutions. Blu5 View’s business development director Melvern Chia, who used to work in the communications sector, told The Business Times that the company recently married its expertise in communications with its hardware solutions to form an integrated platform for secure network convergence.
This framework is none other than PipeComm, which is essentially a networking system that not only brings together the company’s information security solutions, but also resolves problems typically found in public telecommunication networks.
Mr Rossini said that PipeComm can give systems integrators and application developers a competitive edge, as it facilitates the integration of various functions and quickens the process of building application prototypes for tender processes.
Mr Chia said: “What we make available are all the libraries and codes for them to develop and call out all the functions, so it becomes very easy for application developers to use this platform.”

Upward trajectory

It has been far from easy for Blu5 View to develop its self-funded business from scratch. After taking the plunge by quitting their respective jobs, Mr Rossini and Mr Chia went unpaid for the first three years, when the firm was investing heavily in research and development and bringing in no more than S$100,000 in revenue per year.
Their entrepreneurial gamble, characteristically “not the usual”, has appeared to pay off.
Blu5 View’s revenue has since risen steadily, and is projected to grow by significantly this year. Mr Rossini expects this kind of trajectory to continue, but realises that sustaining stable growth will be tough business.
First of all, substantial investments will be required for the company to continue making the technological leaps it has achieved thus far.
Secondly, manpower concerns continue to plague the company. Suitable developers are hard to come by in Singapore.
Blu5 View has so far been working in collaboration with Italian tertiary institutions, but the company wants to tie up with local tertiary institutions as well.
The payoff in doing this would lie in exposing Singapore students to the company’s products and spur a deeper interest towards infocommunications technology among youth, thereby expanding the base from which Blu5 View can recruit future talents.
The PipeComm Princess, with her large, expressive eyes and half-up hairdo, will continue to charm her way into the hearts of new clients and potential employees of Blu5 View.
She has already made a start.

The Business Times (Singapore) – Wednesday, August 6, 2014