Circuit design firm sends tech support to the Web

A Canadian firm that makes circuit design optimization tools is using the Web to allow customers to view its desktops for demos and tech support.

Ottawa-based Analog Design Automation Inc.‘s software is quite complex,

by its own admission. Tech support questions are best handled through demonstrating the correct way to use the software rather than briefing the customer over the phone.

“”It’s a complex product and requires training,”” says ADA marketing manager Julia Ukrintz. “”They might have questions later on. They might be questioning the range and sizing of transistors. It’s just mostly how to use the software.””

ADA is using a product called SpaceCruiser from San Jose, Calif.-based Oridus Inc., which uses the http port to tunnel through the firewall to link desktops remotely. Sessions can be handled either through a browser or through SpaceCruiser client software.

“”We would load in the Oridus software, use it as Web collaboration software,”” says Amit Gupta, co-founder and vice-president of marketing and business development for ADA. “”The customer is able to see our desktop and understand how the (ADA) tool looks. We can walk them through a design example of us doing an optimization of an analog or mixed signal design.””

The other use of the SpaceCruiser product is for tech support sessions. ADA counts among its customers Controlnet and Intel. If they have questions about how to correctly use the company’s tools (IP Explorer and Creative Genius), they can request a desktop-sharing session.

“”Rather than explaining it via phone, we can actually launch Oridus and show a desktop view of our software and be able to walk the designer through the actual usage of the tool,”” says Gupta. “”They could send us the workspace file, which has all the configurations loaded up. Then we just simply pop it up on the screen and walk through it with them.””

SpaceCruiser is a desktop-sharing application, but parameters can be set to limit the viewer’s access. In some cases, they may be able to manipulate the host’s cursor with their own mouse, or even access certain folders. In others, they may be in a view-only mode. “” You can capture one application or one area of the desktop. You can share one window, you can share multiple windows, you can share the whole desktop. It’s up to your comfort (level),”” says Oridus’ director of business development and marketing Jingwen Yuan.

The product is gaining traction as a demonstation and tech support tool, says Oridus’ director of business development and marketing Jingwen Yuan. Oridus has also licensed it to technology companies in Silicon Valley and Asia. ADA uses SpaceCrusier to allow customers to link to their desktops, but other firms have gone the other route and used it to connect to the customer’s desktop.

SpaceCruiser can also be used internally to communicate between offices. “”We have a semi-conductor design house using it for a design review,”” said Yuan.

ADA originally grew from research conducted at the University of Saskatchewan. The company launched version 2 of its Genius line in February.

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