Mister Beacon Episode #11

Episode 11 - Leantegra CEO Oleg Puzanov

August 05, 2016

We explore how Ukranian based Leantegra has blended Bluetooth beacons with Ultra Wide Band (UWB) and Wi-Fi, what UWB is and what it brings to the solution, and the advantages of doing business from an country with faster/cheaper Internet connectivity than the USA.

Transcript

  • Oleg Puzanov 00:00

    As for ultra wideband RTLs, we are delivering accuracy down to 10 centimeters. Some of our customers do want to do analytics for every brand on the shelf, the so called FMCG analytics for every bottle for every box with a Wi Fi. It's not possible right? Now, let's say if I would think about the best possible place on Earth, where I would develop such a complicated and advanced product as Leantegra Cedral platform, and I would definitely think about to McRaven.

    Narration 00:37

    You're listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem with Steve Statler.

    Steve Statler 00:50

    All right, welcome to the latest edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem. My name is Steve Statler from Statler Consulting. And we are doing this show, in partnership with Proxbook with long standing partnership that we've had. And this is a special time for them. It's time for their cue to report most people think of products because this encyclopedic database of vendors in the ecosystem. But they have been doing an amazing job with a quarterly report. And this quarter, it focuses on sports stadiums and events and great collection of case studies, statistics. And I got to contribute an analysis of the industry using a framework called Scotsman which has nothing to do with guys wearing kilts. Scotsman stands for solution, competition, originality, timing, size, money, access and need. And we kind of look at that market through through that lens. So go to proximate.com, check out the report. It's free, and very worthwhile. Okay, well, this week, we are actually communicating with Eastern Europe, the Ukraine, and I have the real pleasure of interviewing Oleg Puzanova, CEO of Leantegra. So Oleg Puzanovelcome to the show. Thanks to you, my blood run. Excellent. Well, I really appreciate you spending time with us. And I was really excited at the opportunity to talk with you. Well, eight, because I'm just interested in what business in the Ukraine is like, and beacon companies are really global. This isn't that Silicon Valley centric industry, which is interesting. And we'll go into that a little bit later. But one of the key things that I think the audience will get out of our discussion is understanding more about Ultra wideband. And so I really want to dig into that and beacons are great, they have some unique properties, but they have limitations. And your solution incorporates Bluetooth beacons, Wi Fi, and ultra wideband which is really cool. And it does some amazing things. So I want people to understand what it can do, what it can't do, and how it can complement those other technologies. But before we get into that, let's just get an introduction from you to your company, and then what you do more broadly.

    Oleg Puzanov 03:14

    Yeah, sure. So let me start with a brief introduction about intagra. So who we are and what we do. So Leantegra develops the platform for engaging and analyzing the foot traffic, such as shoppers inside the supermarkets and shopping malls. And it's as simple as that. Now, if I'll try to expand it further, I should also mentioned that we provide three kinds of solutions on top of this platform. So number one is called RTLs. This is about discovering real time location data using Wi Fi, Bluetooth and ultra wideband. So think Wi Fi and Bluetooth might sound familiar to you. And Ultra wideband might be something new. The only thing or which I should mention at this stage, that ultra wideband, it's a pretty specific wireless technology, which enables a very high location accuracy down to 10 centimeters. So that's our first solution. Our second solution is it's called proximity marketing. We are also using iBeacon and Eddystone technologies, as well as the so called hybrid mode, which combines iBeacon and Eddystone together for proximity marketing. So we have tools like campaign management, mobile as the case and everything for you to launch marketing campaigns. And the solution number three, which we have, it's called location analytics. This is about big data analytics, using the collected location data. So we do things like data aggregation and delivering the so called business metrics, such as dwell time, location, popularity. Counting new versus returning visitors. Another thing which I should mention that these three solutions are, they're connected into a single, unified or centralized user experience, which we provide to our customers. So let's take an example. Let's say you have marketer. And with the help of our platform, you can not just create and launch new campaigns, you can also measure the actual impact of those campaigns on the foot traffic behavior, right, you can view the actual results of your complaints. And all this happens on the same web portal, which will also provide it is called integrity of your portal.

    Steve Statler 05:44

    So marketing speedmax attribution so you can do the targeting, you can drive activity, and then you can measure to see if that was a success on the team that or by the same tool. So that's all integrated, let's just look at this ultra wideband thing. So in the in the book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the ecosystem, we had a big section on alternative technologies, because the reality is a lot of the solutions actually recognize that it's not one tool for every job, you've got to have a toolkit. And so Ultra wideband, you talked about the level of accuracy. So let's go into that. So what the key thing you get out of ultra wideband is a level of accuracy that you simply can't achieve with with Bluetooth and really with with conventional Wi Fi technologies as well just talk a little bit about the comparative levels of accuracy between Ultra wideband and those other technologies. And then let's talk after that, we'll go into how it works, if you will just get a better sense of it.

    Oleg Puzanov 06:47

    So ultra wideband has a much better location accuracy than the Wi Fi or Bluetooth. So on an average basis in the industry as a whole Wi Fi RTLs or Bluetooth RTLs they have an accuracy of five to seven meters. In our product, we have Wi Fi and Bluetooth RTLs accuracy of two to three meters, so it's much better. For Ultra wideband RTLs, we're delivering accuracy down to 10 centimeters, there might be some some differences for different projects like if an environment the project environment has a lot of obstacles like metal shelves, you know, the so called non line of sight scenarios, then the accuracy might go up, let's say 20 or 30 centimeters, but still, it's much more accurate than Wi Fi will tell us. To describe why it happens, I think we should cover a bit more the algorithm or the method, which Ultra wideband is using so I think it will review the most popular methods. The first one is called RSSI based method, it's about collecting the wireless signal and take into account the known curve, the distribution curve of the wireless signal, we can approximate the distance of the object right from the so called Anchor device to the target object.

    Steve Statler 08:14

    And just to add to that, so use the word curve, which is really important because really there isn't a single number that you can use to quantify how accurate Bluetooth is because it's a lot more accurate when you're close up, although it's still variable because it's about signal strength and that fluctuates and so forth. And then when you get further away, if you're like 10 meters, then the the level of accuracy is really very, very granular. It's not very good at all. And with Ultra wideband, that is that's not the case. So let's let's talk a little bit you talked about receive signal strength and anyone who's looked at the meters on beacons sees that that fluctuates because the multipath thing but Ultra wideband, you know what, what is what does it mean when when it says Ultra wideband? What is that referring to?

    Oleg Puzanov 09:08

    So the name itself refers a very wide range of frequencies, right, very wide band. So for sure, for one side, it enables that kind of high location accuracy, but there are some issues as well. So there are some known interferences cases with a 3g or 4g mobile networks. That's why Ultra wideband is not allowed in some countries, like in some Middle East countries, right.

    Steve Statler 09:33

    But generally speaking, like in the United States, it's allowed and and it's used in all sorts of areas where that's not an issue because the spread of the spectrum is so wide that the level of interference is really pretty minimal. So but I think it's fair to point out that there are a few countries where it's not allowed but certainly us it is and euro, US and Germany So after boy bands are used a lot in manufacturing, where they they want more precise location. And really there aren't very many vendors that offer both Bluetooth and ultra wideband. So I think you guys are in a in an unusual position there. So that spread spectrum inoculates some of the issues with Bluetooth, like multipath thing is less of an issue. So that's an advantage. But this also, we're not using RSS, what are we using with Ultra wideband as an alternative to measuring signal strength?

    Oleg Puzanov 10:38

    Yeah, so that's a very good question. So there are two popular method methods, which are not using RSSI, the signal strength. So the first one is called time of flight you have, that's what we're using in our product. So it measures the actual time of the signal flight, right to the object, and it is assumed that the speed of signal equals to the speed of light, right? In this way, we need to have a very high accuracy timer on board, which is capable to count you know, such very low scale, you know, nanoscale, you know, time differences. So, I should say that, there is a few companies in the world, which can provide hardware of the chips, which can deliver such high accuracy down to one and a second. In our product, we are using the microwave module. Until now, our experience was very positive. Right?

    Steve Statler 11:37

    Yeah, the ticker wave pioneer in this space, they've been around for a long time. And they did a lot of the work on the standard as that was kind of making its way through the whole when we go into all the history of it, but it is a standard and Decker way provide the chips. So time of flight is what you use. What's the other method?

    Oleg Puzanov 12:00

    Yeah, the other method is called TDoA time difference of arrival, it is somewhat similar the time of flight. But the main difference, and I call it the main disadvantage, that the so called RTLs nodes, or the receiver devices, they must be timely synchronized, right? So they must be connected with very advanced network, which is able to synchronize those devices to several nanoseconds. So why is it required, because the actual location of the object is measured according to the difference of the time of the signal, which arrives to Evernote. So let's say you have three notes, and that's the minimum amount of receivers in our RTLs system, like ABC, let's say node A gets a signal, let's say, a Taiwan node be a time to node C at time three. So you must be able to differentiate those differences of timestamps down to one nanosecond. So it's pretty challenging, pretty complicated. Our approach, which is about time of life, it is not dependent on such kind of time synchronized networks. So it's much more flexible, much easier to install, and much cheaper than then.

    Steve Statler 13:15

    So you got your power modes, ultra wideband beacon, and you've got your receiver, which you call a power beacon, which is much bigger box, and you maybe have a few of those around the room, how can you measure that time of flight, if you don't have to worry about stringing these receivers together with cables and controller, which is what some of the other folks offer solutions in this space have to do. And obviously, that's a hassle in terms of the wiring, and there's more kit you've got to buy, how can you measure the time of speed of light that it takes the packet to get from the from the Panama beacon to the power beacons.

    Oleg Puzanov 14:00

    So again, regarding measuring the speed of light, this is one of the innovations which our company and DECA wave brings to the market now, it's about special hardware, because as you understand, measuring on the nanosecond level is not possible in software. So basically, DEC awake cheap, you know, is able to measure the differences of the signal arrival to the bar mobile device. And then we get basically a notification right that there is a distance the calculate the distance to the object that can then take three distances right from three installed devices using our called multilateration algorithm, right, which basically it is about the crossing of three, four almost circles, and we get the location that out.

    Steve Statler 14:46

    So you're using trilateration or multilateration. Basically, you've kind of got these receivers and they're all looking at the traffic and doing some trigonometry to figure out where it is. So we've had our geek out session. I kind of love to go deeper, but I'm gonna restrain myself. Why would I want sub meter accuracy, which is basically what we're talking about, like 1010 20 centimeters is amazing. But what would I? Why would I need that?

    Oleg Puzanov 15:13

    Yeah, there are some very nice and useful use cases, let's take retail as an example. So as you know, there's one nice approach to the location Analytics, which is about attaching the location tag to the shopping cart. Right? In that way, you can measure the routes, right? Where shoppers are working the dwell time how much time they spent, spend, let's say, Nia, this child for that child near the cash register, and so on. So using Bluetooth technology, we are able to measure the case with a two to three minutes accuracy. But some of our customers do want to do analytics for every brand on the shelf, the so called FMCG analytics for every bottle for every box with Bluetooth or Wi Fi. It's not possible, right? And that is the exact good example of ultra wideband, and the real need to get down to 10 centimeters, right? Every box every bottle on the shelf.

    Steve Statler 16:13

    Yeah, that's a really good point, because, and obviously, there's always exceptions to these rules. But basically, with Bluetooth, you're talking about departmental level analytics I'm in, I'm in the grocery, I'm in the cereal aisle, and so forth. But the reality is that the money for a lot of these systems is actually not coming from the retailer, it's coming from the brand, the brand has the margin in their product. They're the people that are paying for the promotions and the advertising, not the retailer. And so the brand doesn't care. Well, they do care that you're in Syria, what they really care about is, are you in front of my cereal? And so that's what they can get.

    Oleg Puzanov 16:53

    More money to pay for such kind of sports, right? Not retailers. You're right, but the brands.

    Steve Statler 16:58

    So, you know, the question is, well, if Ultra wideband is so good, then why are people using Bluetooth? And why are they using ultra wideband for everything?

    Oleg Puzanov 17:08

    Well, I think that's because of several challenges. You know, there are some technical challenges, because it's pretty hard to implement such kind of solutions, then, some retailers, for some reasons known to them, they don't want to attach any location back to their shopping carts,

    Steve Statler 17:25

    right. So if we look at our phones, actually, we don't have an ultra wideband radio on there. But we do have Wi Fi and we do have Bluetooth. So that's the key thing from my perspective is if you want to measure Ultra wideband, then you've got to get one of your power Mote be consumed and attach it to something, you got to attach it to the basket, the car, the pallet, the robot, the tool or what or whatever it is, which is quite fun in some situations, but it's not the same as tracking someone's phone. So it's just that is one of the trade offs, isn't it?

    Oleg Puzanov 17:56

    Right.

    Steve Statler 17:58

    Okay. Well, I think that is a fantastic introduction to ultra wideband incredibly powerful technology, some things that people need to be aware of. Let's take a step back and look at your company, Leantegra. You How did you end up forming it? And you've spent time in the US? I know, but you decided to talk to founded in the Ukraine? How did the idea come about to create the company?

    Oleg Puzanov 18:29

    Yeah, so the idea or the company or the product? You're right, appeared in Kyiv, Ukraine, so I think it happened somewhere like three years ago. So at that time, I've been involved into several IoT projects, Internet of Things like smart home connected car. And, you know, I've observed a lot of hype around AD, multiple forecasts, you know, market reports from companies like Cisco know, which forecasted trillions of dollars to 80 industry. And I envisioned a large business potential at that time for the so called horizontal IoT platforms, for example, IoT platforms, those are software and hardware platforms, which enable plogging Different kinds of applications and use case use cases onto the same platform while enabled enabling, you know, faster time to market and on fast implementations. So I started prototyping, you know, I use different kinds of tools at the time, like a Raspberry Pi, you know, BeagleBone, you know, Linux based stacks, you know, wrote some golden song, but still, what I lacked at that time is a solid use case, you know, vertical use case for for a good customer, right. And at that time, I met my former colleague, his name is Val, check out him now, he's a co founder and CMO of Leantegra, so he was planning to do a project for the local shopping mall and give the idea of this other project was about in Dometic, and the biggie Mission, you know, to help consumers walk around the shopping mall. And, you know, at that time, we saw a synergy between my IoT platform and that project. And we decided to narrow down the whole focus of IoT platform down to RTLs. And proximity marketing. That's how, you know, the current version of Office Leantegra product appeared.

    Steve Statler 20:25

    Fantastic. And so you, you've got staff, your development center, is there, crane, but you've got offices elsewhere. Where else are you?

    Oleg Puzanov 20:33

    Yeah, so our biggest office is here in Ukraine, this where our main r&d Center is, so here, we have something like 36 or 37. People, those are software and hardware engineers, some product and project managers. We also have a smaller sales office in Tel Aviv in Israel, where we have some customers and a good sales traction. We also have a small office in New York, this is where our investors from. And we also have some partners in Dubai, Emirates, and in London, UK, I cannot boast any running projects yet, right? We're just starting there. But we have some good traction and hope that they will start soon.

    Steve Statler 21:17

    And so while you're, you're working in Israel, that's where you're doing the pilot project with Ace Hardware, which anyone from the US will be very familiar with that brand. So let's talk a little bit about the Ukraine. And I think this would be a great opportunity to talk about some of the advantages and maybe address some questions that people have about about that. You guys were obviously in the news, big time with the whole thing with Russia and they annexed part of the country, the Crimea. has that impacted your business at all? Or what's does that actually make a difference to the average Ukraine, you know, day to day basis? Yeah.

    Oleg Puzanov 21:58

    So what I think that, for sure, there are multiple stories in the newspapers, right, and mass media. But first, I must admit that many of them exaggerate the real situation is not that bad in Ukraine. Some industries like our IT industry, has a very, very good and fast development nowadays, whether we have any major political or economical issues, let me speak from economical perspective, what I see that during the last couple of years, right, the situation has improved, you know, we have more freedom. We have more options, more opportunities, you know, to work with international companies, and again, it industry keeps going forward. That's number one. Now, let's say if I would think about the best possible place on Earth, where I would develop such a complicated and advanced product as integrity of your platform, and I will definitely think about Kyiv Ukraine.

    Steve Statler 22:59

    Why is that?

    Oleg Puzanov 23:00

    Well, yeah, so I think there are several reasons for that. So number one, we have the so called access to the talent pool, which means that we have a lot of hundreds of 1000s of talented software and hardware engineers, which have all the skills, experience and talent.

    Steve Statler 23:16

    Right. Just to but in there. I mean, back in many, many years ago, we're in the era of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was where the rocket scientists were, this is where you're actually so there's a lot of really smart folks who great education system that is maybe a legacy of of that. So you got talent, that's for sure.

    Oleg Puzanov 23:40

    Yeah, so this the second reason, which I should mention is, is about the cost, right? That's another major reason. So it's all about salaries of his strand. Any kinds of procurements for the projects, you know, they're incomparable between the Ukraine and the US.

    Steve Statler 23:57

    And you gotta tell us, tell us how much is wireless internet, on your phone? How much does does that cost? And tell us the speed? Because, you know, in America, we think that we've got the best of everything. I love people to hear about the cost and performance of broadband in your country.

    Oleg Puzanov 24:14

    Yeah, so that's a very good question. And you know, some of my customers keep asking the same question, what are the prices for broadband connection or mobile access, and so on? So yeah, you're right, many ratings, not all the time, but in many of them, Ukraine appears on the first place as the cheapest country for mobile and broadband access. So for example, for my Wi Fi, Internet access at home, I pay something like $2 per month.

    Steve Statler 24:44

    And how fast is that?

    Oleg Puzanov 24:45

    That's 100 megabits. The connection is pretty good.

    Steve Statler 24:50

    That is a lot faster than I'm getting in San Diego. 20 times.

    Oleg Puzanov 24:55

    Cheaper than yours, right?

    Steve Statler 24:57

    Oh, yeah. 20 times cheaper. 10 times faster. But it's amazing.

    Oleg Puzanov 25:02

    Let's say for the mobile access like 3g, IP on an average basis, $5 a month. That's for that in the US.

    Steve Statler 25:10

    I need to look at getting my phone plan from the Ukrainian carrier. Maybe they have a good roaming deal here. So very cool. So great infrastructure, some cool people. And I have to say, as we do these interviews, thinking about it, we've had actually no interview. Well, we at Google, I guess, we had one interview with Google. So they are a Silicon Valley company. We like the two of the other major beacon players that we've interviewed are in Poland, we've had two interviews in the UK, Italy, we've got one coming up in Spain. So this is really, I think, we're not tied to Silicon Valley anymore in terms of innovation. And even in the States, you look at the players, there's a lot of work, amazing work going down here in San Diego, Southern California. And you look at like radius there over on the east coast. So it's a very diverse ecosystem, a lot of work going on in Canada as well, that I mentioned that. Okay, so let's just maybe wrap up and talk a little bit about your perspective on where the industry is going. You're you're in there, you're running a business, what's your view on some of the trends that are driving the future of the ecosystem?

    Oleg Puzanov 26:27

    Yeah, so I think all trends, as we know them in our industry are very positive, you know, iBeacon, Eddystone, some new technologies, which are brought by Google, like, you know, Project Tango, many things. So speaking about BLE beacons, specifically, again, there are some specific reasons why we should think that there will be a major boost in the hotel industry, right. At first, a much larger set of smartphone models now support iBeacon and Eddystone standards. As you know, before Android 4.4, you know, Eddystone, and BLE beacons were not supportive at all for Android. Right? Then there are some steps from companies like Google to make BLE beacons more popular and Eddystone. Specifically, I think, some of the previous video interviews of yours, they discussed the newest feature of Android called Google nearby, right. So this is the feature which enables an assistant installation of Android apps with help of beacons. So basically, if you walk nearby a decom, and you don't have an app, right, but that app has a registered decom. Right, globally, then the person gets a BLE notification that you can install this app. Now. In fact, it's kind of an additional channel right for the people to download an app. And I should say, based on the customer feedbacks that that might prevent the main hurdle about beacons adoption, it's about mobile app installation, because almost every customer of mine, they're asking, Okay, what we should do about mobile app installations, how we can help people to install those apps. And right now, we're using different like hacks or non standard approaches, you know, we can put some links to Wi Fi hotspot page, you know, please install this app, we can make printed advertisements, you know, please download an app, and so on, and so on. So there are a lot of field complexities and challenging challenges about app installation, and Google with nearby will help address it, then there is a very positive shift into the Atlas, Atlas, you know, proximity marketing with the physical app, and URL based daily advertising. Now, it's not a very, very new thing anymore. There are many companies, which already provides, you know, proximity campaigns based on URLs and our customers, they understand that kind of technology as well.

    Steve Statler 28:58

    And so physical web Eddystone URL and your product support that.

    Oleg Puzanov 29:03

    Yes, okay. Plus, maybe let me also add. Previously, we've been also addressing that issue about app installation with our own proprietary proprietary technology, which is called Web RTLs. This is about proximity marketing based on the pure web. This feature is still in progress, but we have some demo versions available. So it works in the following way. So when the person opens, a Wi Fi hotspot page, let's say in a shopping mall, we immediately track the location of this web page. And let's say if a person walks to McDonald's inside a shopping mall, we also track that event, and then we can show on that web page a concept of McDonald's.

    Steve Statler 29:46

    Okay, so you're working within the router, the Wi Fi router to do this.

    Oleg Puzanov 29:52

    Oh, no, we don't integrate with any Wi Fi routers. We just capture Wi Fi traffic in the same way as we do for Wi Fi RTLs. All right.

    Steve Statler 30:01

    Okay, so, so you're so you're looking, you're basically monitoring the packets, the Wi Fi packets. But you don't actually have to plug into the Cisco router you're just listening out to.

    Oleg Puzanov 30:14

    Basically, let's say there's a web server, which provides some information about the shopping mall, right? So web pages base nation. So basically, that web server can integrate with our API, which will see the location data. And based on those location events, the web server and the logical the web server can change the pages of the content. That's how it works. All right.

    Steve Statler 30:35

    Very good. Well, I think we've covered a lot and it's time to wrap up. But although thanks very much for introducing us to what the Integra are doing. I think this ultra wideband space is very, very interesting. It's a great complement to what's going on with the Bluetooth technologies. So thanks very much for spending time with us. Thank you, Steve. Thanks a lot. So I like you're on your mission to Mars. First of all, is this something that you'd be willing to do if you got the opportunity to go to Mars?

    Oleg Puzanov 31:30

    Yes, absolutely. I like such kind of stuff.

    Steve Statler 31:33

    Yeah, I think a lot of us are rocket scientists. Yeah. So what's the music that you would take on this trip? If you had to take take three songs for instance?

    Oleg Puzanov 31:44

    Yeah, so that's, that's a very good question now. So let me think. I think in the beginning of this journey, I would select High Hopes from Pink Floyd, I think the song it represents the mood which people have in the beginning of journeys, either it's a startup or joining to Mars. Yes. Then, in the end, all this journey, when will we approach Mars? I think I would go with something more lively and funny like something from the disco classics like be BG's Staying Alive. For example.

    Steve Statler 32:20

    That's very in tune with the Martian the movie they did a lot of disco in that yeah.

    Oleg Puzanov 32:24

    And in the middle of the journey, which will consume the bigger part, I think I will go with something relaxing and calming down. Again, something from the classics like Frank Sinatra, I Did it My Way.

    Steve Statler 32:41

    Excellent choices. I love all of those. And but I'm sure Ukraine has a healthy music scene as well. Are you tempted to take any of any? Are there any songs that you would like to add to the list from your local music scene?

    Oleg Puzanov 32:58

    Yeah, we have some very good local bands like rock bands, dance bands and some pop music bands. Let me think I might take a couple of songs from one very famous Ukrainian rock band, it is called Organic LZ. So I like these these band very much so I will take a couple of songs.

    Steve Statler 33:23

    Brilliant. Very good. Thanks very much.