Linux provider acquires Alberta software company

Alta Terra Ventures Corp. a Linux provider, announced Monday that it has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Alberta-based software company Univolve Corporation for an undisclosed amount.

Donald Warman, Alta Terra’s CEO, said that by acquiring Univolve his company’s product range would be expanded as Alta Terra attempts to take advantage of the lucrative wireless communications market. Alta has already begun to expand into the wireless market with its Linux Embedded OS.

Univolve’s current consulting contract will also add to Alta Terra’s revenues and Univolve will benefit from strengthened management, development resources, improved marketing possibilities and channels to market, added Warman.

Univolve’s products such as its Reactive Keyboard and the associated predictive and compression technologies are a real advantage to Alta Terra in its expansion into the wireless communications market, Warman commented in a statement. He said the two companies are compatible because of their commitment to growth as well as their similar backgrounds in the Unix and Linux environments.

Alta Terra develops and distributes MaxOS Linux, a Linux desktop operating system designed to ease Windows users through the transition from Microsoft products to the Linux platform. The company has developed an embedded Linux OS, and is in the process of its software for network, Web, and LAN servers.

Univolve’s major thrust is their text-prediction software that the company has copyrighted and was developed by John Darragh, the co-author of two books on the subject. The text prediction software lies behind the company’s Reactive Keyboard and compression technology, for improving functionality in embedded operating systems.

The Linux-compatible Reactive Keyboard technology has been operating for a number of years and is being used to assist physically challenged persons, the companies said. It uses sophisticated problem solving model techniques to automatically extract patterns from various data streams and uses them to predict future entries. The user can select characters, words, phrases, or command lines that can be displayed in a small menu window. The Reactive Keyboard’s smart features enable it to learn from user input. It is completely language and dictionary independent, and does not require a traditional keyboard, making it multi-language capable.

According to both companies Univolve’s technology has direct implications in the wireless communications market where data entry is difficult or compromised in PDA’s, cell phones, and other computing devices.

As devices such as handhelds, pagers, laptops, and cell phones become miniaturized and will have space limitations in terms of text entry and keyboarding, the companies said, the Reactive Keyboard technology can predict likely text continuations on a small menu window for user acceptance and ensure speed, accuracy and efficiency of entry without the limitations associated with dictionary based software. Alta Terra hopes to have a proto-type for display at Comdex Canada in Toronto in July and anticipates that the product will commence showing revenue in early 2002.

Officials with Alta Terra said that Univolve also has an ASP for business accounting purposes that has been developed and is being launched into the mainstream markets. Alta Terra anticipates that this product will add to its revenue stream.

The acquisition, which will be completed with the issuance of stock, will include a management contract for Brian Darragh, Univolve’s major shareholder. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

Alta Terra, in Edmonton can be reached at Univolve in Calgary can be reached at