Motorola Rolls With Wheels of Zeus

Motorola signed a licensing deal Thursday with Wheels of Zeus, the new startup of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak that is developing a wireless platform to serve as the foundation for a range of location, status, control, and communications services.

Motorola’s Broadband Communications Sector plans to use the technology as part of its strategy to deliver next-generation home electronics products. Neither company announced any specific products that will use the technology.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based Wheels is building digital identification tags called the “wOz Platform,” as it is nicknamed. The chipset is about the size of a quarter and will be sold to manufacturers to put in their products. Thursday’s announcement marked Wheels of Zeus’ first licensing deal.

Using the 900MHz spectrum, the company also is looking to deliver a service called “wOzNet” — a local wireless network that has a range of about 1 to 2 miles. The tags will bounce signals off of base stations and alert subscribers by phone or e-mail to the location of a specific device.

“Our strategy is to work with select market leaders that will uphold and support our philosophy of developing useful and easy-to-use products,” Wozniak, president, and chief technology officer of Wheels of Zeus, said in a statement. “Motorola not only supports this philosophy but also provides a strong brand and distribution channel necessary to deliver wOz-based solutions to consumers on a massive scale.”

Wozniak left Apple in 1985 and started his new commercial venture last January. A champion of wireless technology, he managed to eke out $6 million in VC money from the likes of Mobius Venture Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Palo Alto Investors.

“Motorola is committed to making smart, simple and fun broadband products that support our vision of the connected home,'” said John Burke, Motorola corporate vice president and general manager, consumer solutions business.

“The wOz Platform (offers) consumers highly specialized capabilities that will help people stay connected to what is important to them,” said John Burke, Motorola’s corporate vice president for consumer solutions.

Spokesmen from Motorola and Wheels of Zeus were not immediately available for comment.

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