2014 Winner: Innovation In Information And Communications Technology Sponsored By TELUS
Data Networking and the Potential of iOS Devices for Musicians
Unlocking the potential of iOS technology through innovative products is the key mandate for iConnectivity.
Through their line of products, iConnectivity is actualizing the potential of a musician’s gear by bringing all the technology together for the first time into a seamless platform. Founder and CTO Michael Loh says, “Recently a lot of our competition allows you to connect to the iPad or the computer. We allow both at the same time and it’s a big step.
“We’re enabling the musician to do things he wasn’t able to do before because of the way we allow everything to work together.”
The Networked Musician
The ultimate goal of iConnectivity is to bring the network to the music industry. Innovation in the music industry is typically rare and only slightly incremental. The iConnectivity team, with their background in cellular and network data management, look at the industry from a unique perspective. This has allowed them to spark innovation in an otherwise stale industry.
“Pretty much everything out there is networked these days. The music industry still doesn’t really utilize the network per se. It’s very much a peer-to-peer wired connected scenario.”
By removing the complex mix of wires from the musician’s workflow, iConnectivity helps the musician simplify those connections and enable automation through the use of digital data networking.
Growing the Company
Although iConnectivity was originally conceived as an oil and gas services company, inspiration hit when Loh sat down to write a business plan.
“I just had an epiphany and in the course of a half an hour I had two pages of product ideas and I said, ‘Okay this is going to be a product company.’”
With the support of Innovate Calgary, Loh started to build the company and raise funds.
In late 2009, Loh made his first pitch to a large investment group. His pitch was about products connecting with the iPhone and all the great stuff they were planning to do with this technology. Meanwhile the iPad hadn’t even been released yet.
“At the end of the meeting, I kid you not, every one of them pulled out a Blackberry and said, ‘Why?’” Needless to say, his pitch fell on deaf ears.
Fortunately Loh continued to forge ahead with iConnectivity, seeing the opportunity created by this technology.
Moving into the Music Industry
Loh began working with a professional musician he knew from his university days. Through their collaboration, iConnectivity moved into musical instrument digital interface (MIDI). MIDI is an event language used in the music industry. When a key on a keyboard is pressed, instead of sending a note, it sends a message about the key event and the computer generates the sound based on this event.
“We already knew people were connecting their computers to keyboards that do MIDI. We wanted to enable iPhones,” says Loh.
In 2011, iConnetivity launched their first product, the iConnectMIDI.
Revolutionizing an Untouched Market
Now with four market-leading products, iConnectivity is creating significant innovation in MIDI, an area Loh says hasn’t seen significant innovation in more than 20 years.
Moving forward, iConnectivity hopes to release between four and eight products every year. With their growing platform, iConnectivity is set up to tap into an estimated $17 billion market, with the digital music side reaching $8 billion a year.
“We initially started with the smallest piece of that, which is MIDI. Audio is the next step, and then who knows, there are lots of opportunities out there in this industry.,” Loh says.
iConnectivity is proof there is a better way of doing things than the way it’s always been done. Furthermore, they are proving that Alberta can be successful in more than just energy-related technology companies.