IoT Leaders
IoT Leaders

Episode · 1 year ago

Exploring the Future of 5G Networks w/ Mikael Persson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

With all the complexities in the world of IoT, industry leaders like Sigma Connectivity are leading the way with streamlined product design for customers and innovation into 5G technologies.

Mikael Persson, CTO at Sigma Connectivity, joins the show to discuss the company and its innovation with 5G.

What we talked about:

  • Background of Sigma Connectivity
  • Process from Beginning to End of Product Design
  • Moving into 5G and Its Use-Cases

Check out the resources below for more information:

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to IoT Leaders on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

You're listening to Iot leaders, a podcast from Si that shares real IOT stories from the field about digital transformation, swings and Mrs, Lessons Learned in innovation strategies that work. In each episode, you'll hear our conversations with top digitization leaders on how iote is changing the world for the better. Let iot leaders be your guide to Iot digital transformation and innovation. Let's get into the show. Hello and welcome to the latest episode of the IOT leaders podcast. My name is Nicol and, the CEO of SI and Iot Company, and this is the podcast that attempts to demistify the wonderful but sometimes complex world of Iot, and in this week's episode I'm delighted to be joined by Mikhail person, who's the cteo of a very interesting company called sigma connectivity. Mikhael, welcome, welcome to the PODCAST. Hi and thanks. Thanks. Led me join the podcast now and I want to dive straight in because I went to your website. A fact I encourage any people listening, as you are listening, if you if you can, jump on a browser and and you know, go to sigma connectivity, because there's a whole series of cool products and you guys are in the product design business, but you actually bring ideas to life. I mean it's much more than product design, and we'll get into that and and also we'll get into in this show where it could be going in the future and, in particular, some of the amazing things that could be happening around G so there's a tremendous amount to talk about, but let's start first by by going back in the history. I know you based in Lund in in Sweden, and this came out of a cooperation between Ericsson and Sony. Isn't it maybe just share the history of sigma connectivity? Yeah, I would, I would be happy to. I mean Ericson and Sony made a joint venture two thou two thousand and one called Sony Ericson, and I think most people know about this company. And they produced, yeah, some of the coolest mobile phones. Is going to say? They were really cool at the time. They would kind of spoon right, and I I joined, I came from Ericson and into this company in the early beginning and at the time we were like, I don't know, five hundred people here in Lund and in the end we're six thousand and I work with our F and antennas, and it was really a journey where we started with Jewell band GSM phones and ended up with for g capable phones and we delivered, amongst others, the first edge product of the market and we delivered what was it called the Walkman theme. We re branded that into the mobile phones and song. So it was a really cool journey. However, we got competition from, amongst others, apple, the market went a little bit down for son Ericson and eventually the all shares were bought by Sony Mobile and then shortly after that Sony Mobile moved their center of Excellence, or headquarter for making mobile phones to Tokyo, and this development unit in Luand that was probably one of Europe's strongest, was eventually sold to Don Eulawson and sigma family, and that's where two thousand and thirteen and and our company was created, with one hundred and seventy four of the strongest engineers on the market. So that's that's the start actually of sigma connectivity. That's interesting because you had the world's schoolest phones. Obviously I ...

...mean at that time Nordic the Nordic area was the center for everything, whileless I mean so much advanced and obviously no KIA, and we will know what happened there. And then with the move to Japan and then reinvention, rebirth and you know, the CTEO. And now, if we just jump ahead to today and we get into exactly what you guys do. But but you've grown quite a bit. Have a new how many people are you today? Yeah, we have a two thousand and thirteen. We were a hundred and seventy four and presently we are six hundred. So we have a little bit more than tripled the company and we have also grown over oversight. So we have today sites or development units in Warsaw, in Poland, in Copenhagen, in Lean shelping. We also have in Stockholm, and then we have a free officers on the west coast of us in San Diego and Santosse. One of the things I read about you guys is obviously year into design and we talk about the process, but how you do that? But you also want the big assets that I understand that you've got is a lab at testing, lab certification, creating prototypes, etc. And it's one of it's one of the largest ones outside of the big mobile phone companies. For example, is it largest in one of the largest independent labs in the world? Yeah, it is. It's we really got a strong asset. So at the time Sigma bought out, how to say, this development unit. They we also got to get all the laps with us. So at that time we had a really fully, fully developed labs to do mobile phones, everything from acoustical chambers to antenna chambers and x ray machines. We even got the small prototype lab, and it's actually a lot. These are to talk about things we don't have compared to what we have. However, however, since two thousand and thirteen, we have of course continue to develop this lab, since it's a really strong asset we have. We don't need to send anything anywhere or even learned equipment from anyone. We have a use of it in house and I understand it's as far as you know, and we don't know what perhaps might be in China, but as far as you know it's it's the largest lab outside of China. You think that that is can actually be sort of hired or contracted with by enterprise companies exactly? So you are the essentially the world leader, assume for the moment that there's nothing. China bigger, but there might be better. But you're certainly the world leader for Western countries where you can actually engage to design a Iot, smart enabled product, but from scratch. And let's let's talk about that. I'm going to use an example. I yesterday in the House, my wife and I were in the kitchen and there was a song came up on an advert or an old TV show. I can't remember what it was. My Wife said, Oh, I remember that. It is kid creole and the coconuts. Yeah, school pigeon or stool pigeons. You couldn't remember the name and so I just said, you know, Alexa, play kick Crell on the code coconuts, school pigeons, still pigeon. But instantly it's not a play. And I as it started playing, I just said to her, I said, you know, you know, Fifteen, twenty years ago, even ten years ago, that would have been magic. I mean that would have been unthinkable. You know, you just remember something and it appears and you can cause ask it questions whatever. But the point about it was that there was a design process that let yes, it's technology, but there was a design process and it starts off with, you know, imagining something previously impossible. I saw a phrase...

...you use. You call it from post it to product so so. So it's not just the labs, is it? But maybe you can just talk me through what's your process where you know, sort of high level from the from the beginning to the end. If someone comes with it, to you with a idea, HMM, what happens? So, obviously we have a customers that are rather small or new, and then we have, of course, a customer that are very mature within the electronics business. But if, if a company, often often the company, they have an ID it's kind of a this Napkin drawing. They have an idea or what how they would like to win win the market, then we typically take this id into a a innovative forum where we have a couple of really innovative persons that are skilled with the latest technology out there. So kind of our seniors and trying to lift this ID and also sometimes kill it if it's if we don't believe in it. So O say, not every idea is a good one. Yeah, exactly. So we we try to. What I would say is that we are very good at understanding what is technically possible, and if it is technical but technically possible, then we can fix it outside, but if it's not, then we can't write. So from that point we move this product id into a concept and that's where you start to elaborate with components. You start to look at which platforms it should be on, the software baseline, where to produce it, the risks and the mitigations. So essentially, when you go out of concept, you would have the recipe in your hand. It would be the kind of the perfect decision material to push the trigger and go into development or not. I need doing this in excuse me, you doing this in band in Sweden, primarily so, but your clients could be anywhere in the world. I mean people in the US. Listen to the PODCAST. Absolutely the US who are thinking of treating something. They could engage with you guys remotely and it's a it doesn't they don't have to send the team over to live in London for a few months. No, no, exactly. So that's really strong benefits and this is, of course, the reason why we have offices in in us. So this customer would get a contact person that is most likely and Americans, and they could talk daily during their time zone, and this person would, for us, then translate the information back to lund in a technical way, making sure that the team here can work efficiently with this client. Great, and then, of course we have a late evening meetings with use US team. So that's right. Actually, we have seen serial problems with this setup. It works very, very efficiently and and again there's some really you know, it's a sort of it's not just the technology but also the Scandinavian design, the Scandyinavian Chic. I mean some of the products you make our before friendly, I mean some of them which is on the website, are are amazing. So you have roughly how many clients have you how many products of you design? Since two thousand and thirteen? I think we have in order three hundred, at the four hundred clients, and we have done, we typically do like thirty projects a...

...year. Okay, and and this is a final question on the process. If I came to you with an idea to change the world, that will is possible, but I thought this process from the typical, if there is anything such things typical. How long does it take from the initial first meetings through to perhaps a working prototype and say. HMM. We believe in in, how do you say, put the shovel in the ground directly, so we try to get rid of the paper exercise very quickly and we do not move in so much into this powerpoint philosophy. We believe in building prototypes early, since we know that IOT is it's from a marketing perspective it's very easy, but in reality it's quite complex. So we want to move in very quickly into prototypes so our customer very early can look and feel and touch the device and test it and as soon as as long as we still are within, how do you say, the conceptual framework, then you could do any type of changes to the product. However, when you push the trigger and go into the real development, then of course all the costs start to come in and then so we rather like our customers to feel safe before moving into development. And it is there a is there an average time it takes before they have to post that button? Are we talking six months or I mean, if you want to do a mobile phone, I would say the conceptual face is probably twelve weeks and then you have fairly complicated amount. Not Everybody does a mobile phone and IOT device. Is that is that less complex? In a mobile phone then it's a little bit less complex. So but I would say there is no concept short of them for weeks or you're by four and twelve weeks. Twelve. Yeah, yeah, you know we, you and I met. We were introduced by Tallis Jamalto and because we're in the related field, of course, in it Si. On the connectivity and the point you made there, I just want to go back to about IOT being complex. It's come up in every single one of these IOT leaders. Probs the reason we started the show. It is unbelievably complex, and just the cellular connectivity alone. You know, we one of those common things people say to US pretty it can't be that complicated. I just is just a case of inserting a sin card and it will work all the way around the world first time, because that's their perception that they think. Well, my phone works, doesn't it? But it's not the same, is it? I mean Iot the on activity part and it's intrinsically linked to the device design and it's not ubiquitous just by putting a sin card device. But I mean using a module today, obviously you save a lot of energy in the Narre and you also say, look, caring engineering exactly, and you also save a lot in the testing face and also for the operate reprovals stuff like this. However, you still you still need to take care of your board design. You could still run into EMC issues, you could still run into a lot of issues, but it is the sign. So I'm actually, I mean, we are really pro working with modules. We think it's excellent actually to do that, but you will not get rid of all your problems. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and just for some leaders who want do what we meant by their the modules the so, for example, in the Talis module that we were talking about, formerly Jamalto SIS, connectivity software is embedded inside...

...and application firmware inside the module. But, as you say, the module then has to be designed into the ice, but intensive and the reality is that then you switch the module on and it you get ubiquitous global connectivity through a single platform. And just to finish up on what you do, but you you actually then also take you through to certification, because, that said, that's a big and can be an expensive process. We know we've we've also helped design, not end to anywhere near the extent that you have, but we've done over three hundred projects and we don't about the same number of projects. But we don't do the certification side because that's really very specialist in GSMA certification, various other local country certifications, mnome about network operator certifications. It's a complex area, isn't it is, it is, it's and it's really tough as well. I mean we often get this question on to what level do I need to certify this, and how much can can I do myself and so on, and it's very hard to answer. You need to look into each specific project every time. So what we what we offer is we do all the pre certification so we know that the unit will pass a hundred percent before when going to type approval, and then, of course we have a certification houses that are partners to us. So we get very fast, obvious a answers coming back. So we're trying to be since we are Hun hundred cent down I reidrive, and we try to be very efficient to our customers because that's the only way to keep the cost down. If we're efficient, then we work fast and the project come out faster and then the overall cost will be lower for a customers. So so so we have, of course, internal type approval preparation documentation what to look at. So and since we have done it so many times, we know it by heart. Okay, let's pivot, because when we were talking prior to the podcast, you sort of dropped into the conversation. Then something an area that you're moving into aggressively going forward, which is the area of five G and and five g we were talking the last podcast. I did guess we're talking about the gardener hype cycle. Is Ex gartlet consultants. And you know what's in thoing? Is that five Geez. Absolutely today at the peak of the Gart the hype cycle. I mean it's the magic powder that can do everything. Five Geez the answer to everything. Of course we know that after that it comes down into the what they called the trough of disillusionment. But then it then you get the final adoption. So so, but it will be an incredibly important set of technologies and you've decided not just to be able to have five g expertise, but but you've also started to license some of the core of the technology yourselves. That have a differentiated approach. So, before we get into use cases that you see of five g, the early use cases. Maybe you can just share a little bit on what you'll be doing with your real ship, pacome. Absolutely, I mean, I think I would like to start that around. I think we are in our fifty year and now with five g. So we started out very early in the and it's still very early. I would say. We didn't five G, but we started out with corporation, with Ericson, and started out helping them with g development and of course then we helped ourselves as well in terms of competence. And since during these five years, we have very devoted looked into five g and...

...which areas to, how you say, focus on and where we believe there will be actually customers in the end coming in. So we started for five years ago and since then we have developed, of course, mobile phones on g for some of our customers. But now we think the market is is ready to start to realize industrial four point zero and private networks and all of this. So we a year ago invested in our lab. So we now have a fully developed five g lab with including Antenna Chambers for F one, but also antenna chambers for fur two bands. They the high frequency events. So we bought a scatter chamber, from from a wits of course, we also have the communication testers and network analyzers and all of the above. So we have the capability now to test any device within g yeah, with all tests needed, basically. So next step for us was to acquire licenses. Obviously, when working with mobile phones, we don't have those licenses there we have worked under our customers licenses. But for Iot, which we believe will be one really strong market for g long term, we invested in qualcom licenses. So we're now, I think, quite early actually into this private network, but we would like to be on top of this since we really believe in it. So you'll have the qualcom licenses, you'll have many components of the byg value chain, if you like, and and so let's talk about the early use cases, and that the area of factories, certainly something that we've seen here in SI, the factories with huge amounts of legacy equipment, the dating Iot, HMM, potentially millions of senses, and the whole area of a private iot five gene, private five gene networks M is being talked about a lot. It is that also where you see some of the opportunity in it? And, if so, how you going about trying to find out where the first project? We believe in private networks, especially for the millimuter with a wave of frequencies, and the reason is all the benefits out of it. I mean today many factories are actually run on wi fi or fit cabling. Wifi is a really good thing. We develop a lot of Wi fi, but it's not stable enough for running a factory on and cabling, then you're a little bit stuck. I think for the future you would like to have a very flexible and scalable production facilities. We would like to be able to move your equipment around and reuse your robots or whatever you're developing there. And then G is a really good possibility here. So when it comes to private networks, and I don't know if people will be angry with me, but I see it it d in that sense would be more like expensive but superficient Wi fi network of the factory. So we believe in that. And then also there are functionalities that will come out of G that we...

...haven't seen yet but that I think will make a whole lot of difference. Like you are LLC, you will also get indoor positioning, which sent the meter precision and apart from that, you will have low latency and higher throughput. So with this I believe there will be a lot of undeveloped things today that will be for the future, so to say. So company is going in early. They will of course have the possibility to explore these possibilities early and then probably take their patents on on those use cases. So, Saite, so so we're clearly talking about things that have just not been possible before. As you say, Wi fi is great, but perhaps isn't. Well, definitely isn't as robust as you need right now. Doesn't do the the precision location, if you are if you have some small robots moving around at say in the way house, moving good. You see those pictures on the TV of all these robots, these swarms of robots moving around. Wifi was never built for that. All the legacy equipment, the millions of senses, the latency issues, the bandwidth, I mean the amount of data have been talking about per factory is just enormous, isn't it? I mean, I mean, do you really want information about everything? It's way beyond it. Anything that we've seen so far in the line, and I mean we since we are in a red driven and we charge our customers for our competence. Then we train and focus on areas we believe will be the next big area, sot say, and industry four point zero. There is a lot of companies talking about but I see very little actually happening physically and that we as a company would like to help out with. So we have set up internal teams focusing on the indoor positioning part. We're focusing another team on security within G we're focusing on machine learning because we think that will be a very vital part of this, taking decisions already out in the edge note. And of course we're focusing on g since that will be, or very likely to be, the main, main carrier here. And if you combined all of those teams, then you have industry four point zero. According to me, it's only the use case missing, and for me to use cases most likely it will be self driving robots lifting, lifting goods, moving it to another place. You would like to have automatic control over your stock and in your warehouse, how many devices you have and articles you have and so on. We don't control the use case that our customers control, but we at least think we are the one of the better providers that could help out realizing the use case and these networks is private it networks. And we've again, you know, at Si we spoken to a lot of people that factories is one use case. But you know, my people's minds is in the lead case will rigs or the refineries anyway, with as a huge amount of equipment, very dense area, tightly packed together, the private fig network starts to make more commercial sense and the network then, just to explain to listen as the network would would be managed by a third party, right, is so that so the the factory owner or the enterprise that has the factories. They may be doing this across almost certainly multiple factories, multiple whas is. But but a mobile network operator would play a role in in managing these networks and there would...

...be also cellular connectivity as well in back hauling that information back to the corporate infrastructure. Absolutely, and if you take your the Wi fi you have today, that's managed by someone. So if you have a problem or your date that doesn't come through or whatever, you need someone to take care of all of this. So I think that's how you should probably see it. Like super advanced high feature Wi fi kind of happen. Super Advanced High Feature Wi Fi's a simple, simple explanation of five g that I think it's for the private network party. Yeah, because not everybody has a factory, not everybody has a oil refinery. Do you believe these five g devices will start to get into some of what I call public Iot devices? The use cases will actually become more narrower and into certain industry verticals, whether be use cases of five G, because that's what a lot of people so far have been talking about. The talking about like vending machines or or remote devices for maintenance of complex equipment. Yeah, I mean absolutely. I mean already today we know that GSM and free g will will be removed. And Yeah, if you would like to have a device has pinging, I don't know, smaller amount of data, then you would probably jump into cut M, one of the Lt or narrow man Iot of gay, and that is part of the five g standard. So there you will have your future for this, this type of devices. But then of course you still want to have your car connected to five g and utilize V to x and everything else that will come out of g there, and of course you will connect your mobile phones to the five unet works, because the history has shown us that there will never be enough data. There will just be another APP that requires much more bandwidth in the end than you have. So we have seen that when even from GSM, when we went to edge and we had triple amount of data, that wasn't enough. And then we move to free g and then we move to g so evolution is there. We will be where more and more data hungry, and in particular, on you mentioned autonomous cars. I was reading up on some of the different technologies that are out there to get the precision so for mobile cars and and the amount of data to get. As you get towards a hundred percent totally, you know, with level five, or do we call it total loontomy, sort of no human involved at all. The few percent, it just rockets exponentially in terms of the complexity in the data. Absolutely and it's beyond we're not talking gigabytes, terabytes, PEDA bytes. So we're going to have to invent new words with the amount of data. That's all, and it's all going to be killing day. All the devices will be shared, hearing all of the data. It's something that we've it's probably beyond what we thought a few years ago. I mean, even though we were dreaming a few years ago it certainly we never dreamt this was going to be happy. But I'm also expecting to see quite data hungry devices IOT devices like cameras for security reasons or so with it's probably likely to be connected also over g in the near future. So I think you have the really high data hungry devices like car industry and mobile phones in the top, and...

...then you have the low data hungry devices like temperature sensors and stuff like that. Don't cut them one and our maniote. And then there will be a huge segment in the middle with devices looking like mobile phones but they're not mobile phones. They are more like, I don't know, the gateways or stuff like this. That will be within Iot as well. Yeah, we see that in terms of the classic industry vehicles. What we see, I've mentioned these before, things like, you know, vending machines. As take that, ending machines. We can actually measure it. NDING machines. When he started simply doing telemetry, having tops of copy about so delivered. Today, you know, you could doing on two megabytes data a month. HMM, okay. And then you know we're working with coster costor express and there's ninety sensors in the machine and you can then easily get to a hundred megabytes. And then you put advertising promotions, basically one push promotions, HMM, and you can get into a hundred, two hundred megabytes for machine, but it's still relatively low. Then you start getting people saying, well, actually, I'd like to do advertising, HMM, and personalized advertising to each machine based on WHO's standing in front of the machine, because they identify themselves and the quaker. And then you're into three gigabytes and whatever, but it's still it's sort of what I call static video. But but then the idea of then you have the video and we have a client to who we can't name, who is got a vending machine that works completely on video and they they see who you are and you open the door, you take stuff out, close the door and you walk away. HMM, but it's cameras. Yea Work. It works like the Apple Store and people don't believe it does. But you know, you, you you walk in, you you you identify yourself, you walking, open the door of take stuff out, walk away once you into that, then the amount of data starts going absolutely crazy. We you mentioned son early on. One of our clients is is Sony around the Appsfour in the psfive, HMM, and you know just the the amount of bandwidth needed for the Games and and to download the Games into three detail stores is it starts to stretch the for the top end, the for G it really starts, and especially if everything you have this burst capacity and everybody does everything at the same time. And so I think there's a lot of pent up demand for five G. There's a lot of use cases. We believe there's a lot of use cases out there that people a sort of got their head around, but they're waiting for five G, and so we expect to see a lot of earlier doctors plunge in, you know, maintenance devices that give like a pokemon type experience, augmented reality, expansion of the bill of materials and you can see all the data from the sensors. And the point about five gs that you could be looking at that standing next to the truck, HMM, I don't know, the Volvo Tracking Sweden, or you could be looking at that hundreds of miles away and and and it the experience wouldn't be that different. So it is going to take our IOT world into a whole new, whole new area and the amount of data business opportunities. It's going to be very exciting. But back to the whole point about the podcast. It also adds a huge amount of complexity, which I think, why companies like yours are needed, because people say, I don't know how to design devices, I don't know how to certify the I don't know what this world is all about. I don't know what mistakes I'm going to make, and I will make mistakes. I just want someone who can at the very least tell me what not to do. Yeah, as you said earlier on the every idea is a good idea. That's pretty valuable information. I mean we are, I would say, very I feel very lucky actually to work...

...for sigma connectivity. I get to see all this. I think we're in this kind of a shift now from a technology of perspective. Everything goes so much past now that it did ten or fifteen there is there are so many really, really cool smaller components companies out there developing their idea of the future and we get the possibility to look into all of this and try to map it to our customers use cases. So we are very early in looking into the latest and greatest within more or less every angle within electronics development. You get to see that we don't just get to see the future before it happens, you actually get to create the future. Excited, let's predict the future is to create it, right, that's what you do. Yeah, and I think this is partly why we have been so successful with keeping our engineers and keeping them happy, with letting them explore the future. So yeah, it's really amazing. Actually, I feel it's really amazing for me to work here and get to see all of this and also talk to companies like yours and well, hopefully we're going to be talking a lot more together as part of our partnership, but maybe that's the subject for another fast when we've got something as specific to talk about, which I'm sure we will live shortly, but for the moment, you know, we're probably at the end of our time. It is a fascinating area. When I first, just to finish offer our listeners, when I first went to Sigma coon activity website, my first reaction and none of my colleague who looked over my shoulder at the screen said wow, it looks like a really cool place to work. Let's actually go to your website. You it looked almost like an advertising design house, not a technology company, and I know that's deliberate, but immediate reaction was wow, what a cool place to work. So I you get to work on exciting things. So so, because I'll leave it there. Thank you again for a bring be on the podcast. Very exciting time, especially with the with five g coming and, as you said it right there at the end, there's going to be many more years readily exciting things to talk about, and that's the beauty of the world of Iot. So just to recap, thanks to everyone for a lifting listening. This was the IOT leaders podcast. If you have any ideas, feedback suggestions, you can reach out to me, nickel r Ali our, on Linkedin, or you can send us an email, which is iote leaders at Sieese Yecom. But in the meantime I don't even remains for me too. Once again, thank Mikha. I'll tell you to buckle up and watch orots for some of the amazing things that his engineers are working on. And thank you again and tune in for the next few episodes of IOT leaders podcast. Thanks again, and Mikhael, thanks very much. Thank you nick. Thanks for tuning in to iote leaders, a podcast brought to you by SI. Our team delivers innovative Global Iot cellular connectivity solutions that just work, helping our customers deploy differentiated experiences and disrupt their markets. Learn more at SICOM. You've been listening to iote leaders, featuring digitization leadership on the front lines of Iot. Our Vision for this podcast is to be your guide to Iot and digital disruption, helping you to plot the right route to success. We hope today's lessons, stories, strategies and insights...

...have changed your vision of Iot. Let us know how we're doing by subscribing, rating, reviewing and recommending us. Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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