By placing its latest research laboratory on West Olympic Boulevard near the heart of Tinsel Town, Nokia is placing its money where its mouth is. The Finnish-headquartered firm had been talking for years about how important entertainment functions were to its future.
The Nokia Research Center Hollywood joins Nokia's other U.S. research centers in Palo Alto and Cambridge. Named to head the Hollywood lab was Rebecca Allen, a Renaissance woman whose credits include the founding of UCLA's department of design and media arts and key contributions to the design of the One Laptop Per Child XO computer.
"Hollywood has an enormous variety of academic institutions innovative media businesses and unique creative talent," Allen said in a statement Thursday. "The laboratory will explore new entertainment experiences that combine the physical and digital worlds. Our research work will focus on mixed reality experiences, with a strong community flavor. We will develop new user interfaces that fully explore the role of the human body and human motion for more natural forms of interaction."
As the world's largest supplier of handsets -- Nokia's 40% market share is more than the next three suppliers combined -- the company has a head start with consumers as its Symbian-based operating system is beginning to support smartphones with 5-megapixel cameras and advanced stereo speakers designed to deliver video and TV.
The Hollywood lab will work on a range of technologies, many of them sensor-based, which will focus on film, music, games, Web, and TV. Nokia said it will draw on collaborations with nearby universities like UCLA and the University of Southern California. Nokia has also forged close ties with Stanford University through its Palo Alto research lab and with MIT, which the cell phone provider has facilities located in and nearby.
Nokia Research Center has additional collaborative projects underway with the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdome, Tsinghua University in China, and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and Zurich.