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IBM design unit has built-in customer base

By Bob Freund

freund@postbulletin.com

Design contracts for outside companies are not unknown at IBM Rochester or its parent company. The technology giant has taken on jobs to draft electronics devices or computerware in the past as a sidelight.

But, until now, IBM had not opened up its design expertise to the world or looked at it for a stream of revenue.

Some of the first customers for the new Engineering &; Technology Services division will be existing ones, such as Medtronic Inc., which makes cardiac care devices.

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"There was a small group in (IBM) Rochester that we started working with in the early '90s," Medtronic spokeswoman Valerie Lind said. Those engineers helped create a wireless device to program heart pacemakers and other cardiac implants made by Medtronic, which is based in the Twin Cities suburb of Fridley.

The device also can download data from pacemakers, defibrillators and other instruments for use by doctors, said Scott Papillon, also from Medtronic.

The second generation of the device released in March also came out of IBM Rochester, Lind said.

"Primarily, we decided to work with IBM for the design of this programmer for two reasons: Because of their capabilities and mechanical design and laptop (computer) design," Lind said. "In addition to that, their background with touch screen technology was important."

Stan Myrum, a Medtronic vice president, said the "constantly increasing complexity of computer technology" also played a part in convincing the company to enlist IBM to design the device.

IBM Rochester experts also have worked on design jobs such as a rugged version of a portable IBM Think Pad computer for the military and miniature electronics for wearable computers, said Darryl Solie, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and systems architect at Rochester.

Other initial customers for Engineering &; Technology Services include the New York Stock Exchange, Sony Computer Entertainment and camera firm Minolta, IBM said in a written announcement.

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