Indian American tech pioneer Vanu Bose dies at 52

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Vanu Bose

Vanu Bose, the Indian American who re-imagined cellular networks and extended service to people living in remote areas of the world, died at the age of 52 on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Concord, Massachusetts, from a pulmonary embolism that he had suffered in a hospital emergency room.

Bose was the son of Amar Bose, the founder of the Bose Corporation, known for its high-quality audio systems and speakers, but instead of following through with the family business, Bose founded his own company, Vanu Inc.

According to the New York Times, Vanu Inc., utilizes cellular technology to reach people living in areas where there is either little or no service.

The company has been able to develop durable cellular sites that could run on solar power by focusing on the radio components of wireless networks, which is used in many rural areas around the world.

Having already taken this technology to Africa, Bose’s latest venture took place in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria by donating more than three dozen cellular base stations, where it was used to help residents locate their family members.

“It’s been so motivating for our employees, because everyone watches the news and says, I wish I could do something to help, suddenly we have a way to help,” Bose told the Boston Globe, nearly a month before he died.

“He always wanted to address the needs of people who did not have a voice, either politically or economically,” Andrew Beard, the chief operating officer of Vanu Inc., told the New York Times.

Beard also mentioned that Bose had spent a year working with Project Orbis, which operates a hospital in a DC-10 aircraft to provide eye surgery to economically devastated regions and his summers spent visiting his extended family in India, witnessing extreme poverty and deprivation.

The New York Times reported that Bose’s company helped remake wireless base stations which primarily ran on software instead on complex hardware.

Bose expressed desire to start his company when he was working on his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where worked on a software radio format.

While he was an undergraduate at M.I.T, Bose told an M.I.T. publication, that he was always interested in wireless technology and even assisted his father in writing a paper about modifications to FM radio broadcasting.

When he started his company, Vanu Inc., he introduced software to a commercial market that wanted to juggle multiple wireless networks using the same equipment.

According to the New York Times report, the company’s virtual radio technology enabled software which would do the heavy lifting of signal processing rather than relying on complicated hardware.

Since software radios allow a single handset such as a cell phone, to access multiple networks at the same time, Vanu Inc. started working with small rural cell phone carriers in the United States that provided roaming services for large companies like Verizon.

Community Connect, a small base station developed by the company, weighing about 20 pounds, is designed to withstand grueling conditions, including temperatures of up to 132 degrees Fahrenheit, and runs on solar power rather than diesel fuel, making it better for both the economy and the environment.

This specific technology allows residents living in rural areas, to make calls or send a text message to friends and family living in nearby towns, as well as have them gain access to medical information, digital banking services and solar lighting systems.

Bose was born in Boston on April 29, 1965 and grew up in Wayland, Mass., he lived in Carlisle, Mass.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, computer science and mathematics from M.I.T. before earning a master’s and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science.

Bose has received many awards and was named a technology pioneer in 2005 by the World Economic Forum.

He is survived by his wife, Judy Bose, along with his daughter Kamala, 8, his mother formerly known as Prema Sarathy and his sister Maya Bose.