Display Technology Developed at S.J. Quinney a Top Finisher in Entrepreneurial Competition

By Marty Stolz

The Display and Alert Network — named DAN™ and developed by staff of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law — came in as a top 10 contender for the 2008 Utah Entrepreneurial Challenge.

A large video monitor in the lobby of the College of Law demonstrates DAN in action. It conveys information in a variety of media and has the capability of making emergency alerts. The lobby system, for example, sometimes displays videos, announcements, weather, time, news on a ticker-type scroll or other information. Outside a College of Law classroom, a smaller monitor, outdated for computer use, has been retooled with DAN and used to show scheduled use of the room.

The Quinney College’s information technology staff, including Aaron Dewald, Senior Application Developer, and Wesley Christiansen, the LAN Manager, Student Computing Services, wrote and produced the programming for DAN. The product was named as a tribute to Daniel Gorrell, who initiated the project. Gorrell, the College of Law’s former Director of Information Technology, died in July 2007.

DAN, unlike other display programs, is completely web-based and affordable, Dewald said.

“When we researched similar systems,” he explained, “we found the systems to be very expensive and more often than not requiring even more expensive proprietary hardware. DAN is great because the only things you need to run it are a display, a computer, and an internet connection. This is especially attractive to Universities and schools that often don’t have much budget to work with.”

Adjunct Professor of Law Kenneth Chahine, who is also an executive with a San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company, used DAN as a case study for his New Ventures Clinic. There, College of Law students learned about negotiations, writing term sheets, licenses agreements, and other legal issues.

In addition to the College of Law, DAN is in use in the Campus Store and the Outdoor Recreation Center at the University of Utah. The David Eccles School of Business is expected to soon adopt it. Other institutions have expressed interest in DAN.

DAN is marketed and sold through a separate spin-off company, Akadi Technologies. Staff frequently add templates, “widgets” (special computer codes), applications and features, such as AkadiMatch to customize advertising messages.

The 2008 Utah Entrepreneurial Challenge, founded in 1999 by students at the University of Utah, attracted 184 entries from across the state. Applicants submitted a formal business plan and made presentations to entrepreneurs and investors. The top-three contestants divided $100,000 in seed money and in-kind support services; the Challenge has among the largest prizes of any collegiate level business plan competition in the United States.