Please note - Ndiyo has now officially closed its doors, at least as a legal entity - but we've kept the site alive in case any of the information is useful to others.

Our thanks to all those who helped out and were involved in so many different ways! The Ndiyo legacy lives on in the ultra-thin-client work at its spin-off DisplayLink, at Plugable, at NoPC and elsewhere...

Ndiyo News Oct 08

You will have noticed (and some of you have emailed us to say that you've noticed!) that things had gone rather quiet on the Ndiyo front.

That's a consequence of our policy of only making announcements when we have something tangible to report.

But there have been some interesting developments in the last year on which we'd now like to update you.

The gist

The headline news is that Ndiyo networking clients — Nivos — are now in production and available in small batches as a Starter Kit for customers who want to experiment with Ndiyo networks. We've sold Ndiyo kit in the past, but the availability been very variable. It's now on a much firmer footing.

The background

Basically, we've been trying to achieve two objectives:

  • Developing a way of funding the manufacture, distribution and support of Ndiyo-type systems
  • Inventing a mechanism that will make the Ndiyo Project financially sustainable

Manufacture and distribution

The Ndiyo approach to networking involves the use of ultra-thin clients based around the technology created by our spin-off company, DisplayLink, together with predominantly open source software (the Linux operating system plus special drivers) running on a server. The client takes the form of a small box called a Nivo (see pic) which has been through several generations of development, EMC testing etc. and is now ready for market.

The Nivo client meets the requirements of the Ndiyo Project — which is about creating a networking architecture that is affordable, robust, supportable and environmentally sustainable. When manufactured in large volumes, the Nivo will be inexpensive — to the point where a fully-functional five-screen Internet café could cost under $1,000. But manufacturing hardware in large volumes requires a lot of up-front funding — and Ndiyo doesn't have that kind of money. (Remember: it's a non-profit organisation.) So we've had to find a way of bootstrapping the manufacturing operation.

Our solution has been to look for commercial applications of our technology which would enable us to manufacture the kit in reasonable volumes. Last year, we founded Camvine — a new company which provides innovative ways of doing digital signage. In essence, Camvine makes it easy for organisations — small and large — to display and manage digital information on a number of networked screens, without having to manage a number of PCs. The company is now into its second funding round, has a growing and enthusiastic team of people and is about to start making waves in the digital signage marketplace.

In the process, it will also be manufacturing Nivos — and making them available for use in Ndiyo-type networking projects — which is why we are now able to announce the more general availability of the Nivo. Getting the price to the point we'd like it to be will depend on getting some really substantial orders, but trial kits are available at prototype prices, and you should feel free to contact us for pricing in larger quantities.

Sustainable funding

Ndiyo was founded with generous initial philanthropic funding which has now been exhausted, so we have to find ways of supporting the next phase of the Project. In the short term, we need the resources to employ at least one person who can develop software and support Ndiyo deployments in the field.

In the longer term, Ndiyo has a significant equity stake in Camvine which we hope will eventually make it financially independent. But that obviously depends on Camvine growing into a large and successful operation.

In the meantime, we need some funding to support those of you who have been clamouring for Ndiyo systems. If you have access to any resources which might allow us to take on somebody in our Cambridge office to support further develop the Ndiyo model, please get in touch!