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Pulse Data Wins Export Award

Pulse Data Wins Export Award - World Leading Technology For The Blind & Visually Impaired

Christchurch company Pulse Data International, designer and manufacturer of innovative technology products for the blind and visually impaired, has won a Trade New Zealand Export Award for achieving 76% growth in export sales in the past year.

(Media are invited to attend the presentation of the Pulse Data Export Award, by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honourable Helen Clark, at 12 noon on Thursday 18 April, at Pulse Data’s premises, 1 Expo Place, Christchurch.)

Pulse Data’s International Marketing & Business Development Manager, Greg Thompson, says the company has achieved phenomenal export growth in the past five years, with annual foreign exchange earnings of almost $40 million in 2001, expected to increase substantially again this year.

Mr Thompson says Pulse Data’s products improve the quality of life of visually impaired and blind people of all ages, helping them becoming more independent.

“Our BrailleNote and VoiceNote personal notetakers provide people who are blind with email, word processing and data and time management capability. Extensive functionality means that blind people can now achieve their potential in many fields, particularly business and education. These products are helping to level the playing field by giving blind students and employees a tool that allows them to exchange information with their sighted teachers, colleagues and employers.

“Our SmartView video magnifiers improve lives immensely by allowing people with severe visual impairment the opportunity to look at photographs, to read newspapers and books and to view other information again on a greatly enlarged scale.”
Pulse Data sells its products to more than 30 countries with exports generating 95% of turnover. Major export markets are the USA, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Australia.

Mr Thompson says Pulse Data’s phenomenal growth in recent years has been driven by an expansion of its distribution networks – partly through acquisition - and the launch of BrailleNote, a portable electronic personal data assistant for the blind, integrating voice and braille technology. Launched in July 2000, BrailleNote now accounts for 50% of Pulse Data’s annual turnover.

Smaller than a laptop computer, and with a battery life of over 20 hours, BrailleNote provides the user with a synthesized voice output, and the capability to read information via dynamic pop-up Braille display cells. It’s the world’s first electronic notetaker for the blind using the Microsoft Windows CE operating system, which means it can interface easily with Window based applications such as Microsoft Word.

Mr Thompson says BrailleNote is very easy to operate and it gives users access to mainstream technology, enabling them to communicate with ease with sighted people. He says the product has generated a hugely positive response from blind people of all ages.

“Recognition of the positive impact that BrailleNote is having on the lives of so many people has led Pulse Data to commit to a continuous programme of enhancement of its capabilities. We’ve recently announced GPS connectivity, giving blind people much greater travel independence, and a multi-lingual capability that is wonderful for blind people learning a language other than English.

“Within the next couple of months we’ll release a brand new browser for surfing the web, and throughout this year we will also be releasing full German, Italian, French and Spanish translations.”

Mr Thompson says the success of its SmartView and BrailleNote products has helped Pulse Data become recognised internationally as the most innovative technology company in its field.

“A key to the success for Pulse Data is that we listen to our clients. Innovation on its own is no good if we are developing clever products for people who don’t want them. We listen to what blind people and visually impaired people want and we incorporate their ideas and their requirements into our products.”

BrailleNote’s success attracted the interest of Bill Gates who visited Pulse Data at a US trade expo. Mr Thompson says that interest has resulted in Microsoft and Pulse Data forming a strategic relationship to work together to develop exciting new technology products for the visually impaired.

Trade New Zealand Account Manager Cate Hlavac congratulated Pulse Data on its Export Award, saying the company’s understanding of customer needs enabled it to identify product development opportunities and distribution channel improvements.

“Pulse Data has grown over the last few years through acquisition and the converging of commercialisation of new technology and the maturing of the understanding of the market of its products. Its strategic partnerships, continuous focus on innovation and strong leadership have also contributed to its outstanding export performance.”

Employing 128 staff, Greg Thompson says Pulse Data will continue to grow its export business through a combination of new product development and enhancement and expansion of existing and potential markets, including Asia and South America.


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