BY HOVSEP DAGHDIGIAN
I recently had the privilege of visiting Technology and Science Dynamics, LLC. (TSD), a 3-year old high-tech company in Yerevan. TSD was established by Dr. Vahan Chakarian, an Armenian native who resided in the U.S. for 30 years. Three years ago he returned to Armenia to establish an innovative high-tech company and, since then, has been alternating his time between the U.S. and Armenia.
TSD is perhaps best known as the company which announced the ArmTab and Armphone, the Armenian produced tablets and cell phones. The phone is now on sale in Armenia and by the end of the year will be offered to U.S. customers via TSD’s web site. Tablets and phones will be shipped to U.S. and Canadian customers from TSD’s office in California. When asked about the design and capability of the ArmTab and Armphone, which comes in a few different models, Dr. Chakarian indicated that the hardware and software were designed in Armenia by graduates of Armenia’s universities. Their proprietary computer chips were designed in Armenia by Armenian engineers.
The ArmPhone runs on the Android operating system and has a 5.1-inch HD-screen. It also has a number of ring tones featuring Armenian music and is priced from about $100 to $300. Plans are underway to establish markets in Russia and other European countries in addition to the U.S. Software updates to the phone will be offered over the Internet and service will be through their office in California.
I visited their plant at the Mergelyan Institute facilities. The Mergelyan Institute was an advanced research facility during the Soviet era and was a pioneer in fields such as cybernetics (now called “artificial intelligence”) and computer science. Now this facility is a research and development center for a number of high tech startups, including TSD. Their plant is immaculate and very modern. I’ve worked in high tech here in the US and I’ve not seen a more modern facility. TSD employs about 130 mostly young scientists and engineers, though during my visit many were on summer vacation. TSD assembles and vigorously tests the phones at their factory in Yerevan. Their staff includes chip designers, hardware engineers, software engineers, digital forensic specialists, mechanical designers, physicists, and others.
Dr. Chakarian stated that aid to Armenia must focus on building businesses in Armenia, and providing jobs and meaningful careers for Armenia’s youth. He noted that Armenia’s quality of education is declining. Laboratories in schools, for example, are using outmoded equipment. When equipment in U.S. facilities is replaced, working used equipment – even if one or two generations old, should be sent to Armenia. The diaspora should donate equipment, not money.
Besides the ArmPhone, TSD produces a variety of other products as well including tablet and laptop computers, ruggedized hand held radios, computers for military use, and an inexpensive science laboratory for schools. The cost of the portable science laboratory is about $1,000 but it replaces $15,000 – 20,000 worth of laboratory equipment and can be programmed to track school lesson plans.
The following excerpt describing TSD’s goals is from their web site at www.tsd.am:
Currently, TSD R&D employs, co-locates and collaborates with over 55 post-doctoral research staff and PhD students at 27 academic, commercial, governmental organizations worldwide… TSD’s main goals are: Encourage and boost growth of high-tech products made in Armenia: create a new high-tech production culture in Armenia by developing, assembling and manufacturing high-tech oriented technologies and smart devices; Engage in and perform outstanding scientific research: develop and implement new scientific projects, which can result in the creation of new efficient product lines and realization of new breakthrough innovative and scientific works; Delight customers: provide best quality products with customized solutions and high quality service; Foster innovative and educational achievements: the company is committed towards realization of innovative projects, integration of young people into knowledge and experience sharing initiatives, establishment of cooperative edges with educational institutions worldwide.
I personally want to thank Ms. Hripsime Mkrtchyan, a young PhD physicist at both Armenia’s Cosmic Ray Division and TSD, and Dr. Chakarian for taking the time to arrange my visit to TSD’s facilities.