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It’s all fun and gaming for tech firm

Vaughan-based company Ideazon unleashes another gadget for hardcore computer gamers

GO, GO GADGET GUY: Ideazon founder Oren Kramer shows off his Vaughan-based company's gaming products, including the new Banshee Gaming Headset. Photo courtesy Ideazon Inc.

Oren Kramer used to spend a lot of time in European hotel rooms playing video games on his laptop computer.

It was during those frequent hotel stays — part of the reality of being a flight attendant for Israel’s El Al airline — that the seeds of an idea that would become Vaughan-based Ideazon Inc. were sown.

“He used to, during the day, fly back and forth between Tel Aviv and points in Europe, I guess going: ‘Chicken or beef? Chicken or beef?’ ” said Chris Rathgeber, Ideazon’s president, of the company’s founder. “At night he would sit in his hotel room (with) his notebook computer.

“He basically thought that the traditional keyboard for gaming was stupid. So he came up with the original concept of the Zboard, … which is basically a customizable keyboard.”

In 2002, Ideazon opened its global headquarters in Concord, thanks to the guidance of former Computer Brokers of Canada boss Nir Shafrir, an Israeli expat with important tech connections and knowledge of Vaughan.

Rathgeber worked with Shafrir in Computer Brokers’ heyday.

“As Nir put it, he started to put together the old band,” he said with a laugh.

With just a handful of people, Ideazon took “the first gaming keyboard out there in the world” and essentially created the PC gaming peripheral retail category, Rathgeber said.

“We’ve been joined since then by Logitech, and there’s that Microsoft company,” he deadpanned, adding, “I don’t know if you’ve heard of them?”

Ideazon unleashed its latest gaming gadget on Feb. 15. The Banshee Gaming Headset was developed with input from gamers, who often play for extended periods over several hours and wanted something comfortable.

Retailing for $69.99 at EB Games outlets and Ideazon’s website, the Banshee features a microphone independent from the earphones, helping to eliminate noise contamination, Rathgeber said.

“Plus I happen to think it’s a very attractive headset,” he added.

Though the Banshee and its other products — the Zboard and non-interchangeable keyboards, gaming mice, mouse mats — are made in China, Ideazon’s entire operation is run out of Vaughan, including design, marketing and sales.

“This kind of consumer product is not something that you can run out of Israel, (though) Israel is great in terms of doing a lot of technology development,” Rathgeber said.

Being located near Pearson International Airport and major highways is an asset for the company, he said, both for doing business and for the convenience of Ideazon’s staff of 20.

Besides, he said, “I always happened to particularly like this whole stretch for a great variety in different types of restaurants.”

Vaughan Today
Online: February 25, 2008 [link]