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November 8, 1995

ACORN’s APPLIED RISC TECHNOLOGIES, IN STAFFING QUANDARY, HAS MANY INTRIGUING PRODUCTS IN MIND

By CBR Staff Writer

Applied RISC Technologies Ltd, recently-formed division of Acorn Computer Group Plc, faces a testing time in the next few weeks, said Peter Bondar, director, as he decides whether to double staff from the current 27 employees or turn down business in the face of insufficient staffing levels. Bondar, who was involved in Acorn’s redundancies announced a month ago (CI No 2,748), would not say which option he would adopt but he did say that hiring staff so soon after a round of redundancies will put him in a slightly embarrasing position. Group managing director David Lee said that the Applied RISC Technology subsidiary had started generating revenues three months ahead of schedule. A proportion of these revenues will come from a recent agreement with Advanced RISC Machines Ltd, the company in which Acorn has a 43% stake, to produce simulation systems for debugging ARM processors. Broadly, Bondar said the company would focus initially on three main areas: videoconferencing, navigation systems and voice recognition software, although he said the last was still very much in early stages of development and would be in collaboration with Applied Voice Technologies Ltd under a technology licensing agreement. Both companies are working towards producing a speech-controlled mobile telephone that would recognise pre-programmed numbers from a library of around 300 words. The division is also working on a navigation system based on the ARM 7500 processor that Bondar said would be ready next year. However, the first product out of the stalls will be a GSM ARM RISC-based mobile telephone with a liquid crystal display screen that will display images at 10 to 15 frames per second. Bondar would not say which network the phone would use but said that while the company was currently working with one UK network provider it hoped to offer the service on all mobile telephone networks in the next couple of years. The telephone, due out early next year, is likely to cost about ú100 more than a standard mobile telephone and will be sold in retail chains in another three years, he said. Looking to the future Bondar said that the division would break even next year and achieve profits the following year. He saw revenues of ú2m for this fiscal and said the money would be used to fund research and development costs.

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