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Mister Beacon Episode #156

Exploring Omlox

August 16, 2022

Interested in RTLS, asset tracking or Industrial IoT? You need to know about the new standard, Omlox, which is shaping the market with over 1,700 company members. Born out of the needs of European manufacturing giants, and the pioneering by Trumpf, the German industrial engineering pioneer.

Omlox promises interoperability for RTLS systems, a catalyst for growth for RTLS vendors and an insurance policy against lock-in for companies wanting to deploy RTLS. We hear about it from the father of the standard, Eberhard Wahl, Managing Director of TRUMPF Tracking Technologies GmbH.


  • Steve Statler 00:00

    Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. One of the great things about life is when you feel like you've learned something important and new, and today is one of those days for me, hopefully, for you to win, diving into the world of industrial IoT, very important area, very significant area. And we're going to be talking to the CEO of a company called TRUMPF Tracking Technologies GmbH Eberhard Wahl world is the managing director and founder of this division of TRUMPF, spelled with an F at the end, they are very significant German industrial company pioneered all sorts of things, numerical machines, to in manufacturing, makers of heavy duty laser equipment that's used in semiconductors, as a result of this incredible industrial powerhouse, they saw the need for real time location systems, they dived into into that. And given that perspective, saw some major gaps in terms of standards. And they filled them and created something called on locks, which we're going to be learning a lot about. And this is something that is very significant in industrial IoT. It's got a lot of traction in Europe, but less visibility over here in the States. So I think this is an important open standard that you need to know about if you're into asset tracking indoor location, has really broad application. Its sweet spots started off in Ultra wideband, but it encompasses other technologies, like Bluetooth as well. So there's a lot that it's important to know about. And we've got the world's expert on this, talking with us. So I hope you enjoyed the conversation. The Mr. Beacon podcast is sponsored by Wiliot Intelligence for Everyday Things, powered by IoT Pixels. epsy, thanks so much for joining us on the show.

    Eberhard Wahl 02:32

    I'm happy to be here. And I'm really curious about your questions. Well,

    Steve Statler 02:37

    I'm curious about your answers, I have to confess that the Mr. Beacon podcast has really been focused on supply chain and retail IoT, and maybe consumer IoT to a lesser extent, we haven't done industrial IoT, it's justice. And I think we have a real opportunity talking to you to do that. So we're going to be talking about industry 4.0, industrial IoT. You have been right at the center of a very interesting standard in this area, and RTLs standard called unlock. So I'm looking forward to diving into that. But maybe, before we go there, we should set the stage and explain a bit about the company that the division that you are CEO of sits who. So the company is called TRUMPF. What? What is the origin of the company? What does the broader company do? I've been watching videos last night, and I had, you know, I'm a geek. So I loved what I saw some of the devices, you're making lasers that cut through things, which is awesome. I'm thinking James Bond scenes from James Bond movies. Now, what does what does TRUMPF do?

    Eberhard Wahl 04:03

    Well, I think the simplest way to approach TRUMPF is to look at it as a high tech company. And it has continuously changed over time. So if I look back, let's see some decades you would look as a company as a company being just a technology leader in sheet metal manufacturing, with doing the nicest punching machines, but also with innovating laser cutting machines, like you mentioned. If you look at thumbs nowadays, after well, continuous kind of innovation and new product launch, we are also number one in high power lasers for any kind of crazy applications, whatever you can, can basically think of where you can really use high power lasers in fancy things like protection from from lightning, for example. Lightning, and let's also do low power applications like big salts For applications similar to face ID recognition and those kinds of topics, so we went from a sheet metal machinery company to company who had their own semiconductor fabs doing their own kind of laser products directly from the wafer, up to dozens of kilowatts of laser power. And we also innovated in areas which we are. Let's see, except that all, let's say expect it to be totally impossible. So one example is, nowadays, everyone is talking about a shortage in semiconductors. And the new fabs, they are all produced based on UV extreme ultraviolet lights in the in the little coffee system. And there's only one company being able to supply the beam source for that, which is tough. So today, I would say, besides being number one in sheet metal machinery, we are also probably one of the number one in semiconductor manufacturing technologies. And in some areas, we were the only choice, which is there to supply those kinds of machineries. And that's really important. If you approach Tom, so it's not like you can put us into let's say, your call and say, That's exactly what you do. We're always looking for new things. And we have quite some other new kinds of endeavors active like, we are a family owned company. And the family says, Okay, we want to be number one in quantum computing. And I know this sounds strange in in your ears, like the bear in us, there are companies like Google and IBM fighting for it. And we are a small family owned business. But we believe in that. So we invest in our own quantum computing technology. And we really do that. We have a startup and it's fully funded by the family money. And the other things and that's, that's what I do is changing the way how industrial IoT works from, let's say, a more politically closed system, where you buy a monolithic solution to a standardized system, which will allow a mix and match approach and, and this is driven by the same company by the same family. And it's the only thing driving that is the bill with a strong commitment for innovation.

    Steve Statler 07:20

    And you mentioned, you know, small family company relative to some of the trillion dollar giants. But how big is TRUMPF?

    Eberhard Wahl 07:31

    So basically, with just, let's say, 4 billion revenue per year, in Europe, it's half the size. So I'm not allowed with our fiscal year ended end of June. So I'm not allowed to tell you the numbers of the last fiscal year, which is just some weeks old. So again, the audit income has increased. So it's roughly 4 billion. That's probably a good number.

    Steve Statler 07:56

    And number of employees, how many people in the company?

    Eberhard Wahl 08:00

    Let's put about a 14,000.

    Steve Statler 08:03

    Substantial enterprise? And what before we move on, I do want to get into the RTLS IOT space, but just complete the picture a bit. Talk a bit about some of the markets that you serve, you know, the kinds of companies that are buying your products. You talked about one the semiconductor space, that was fascinating, but it's a lot bigger than that isn't it's like your let you describe it.

    Eberhard Wahl 08:31

    Yeah, so exactly one of the companies that let's say one big customer of ours is ASML, you know, ASML, it's, it's one of the biggest equipment manufacturer for semiconductor fabs, and they buy the UV source from us, it's one example. So that's one of our customers. And in this high technology area, we're the only one being able to supply this kind of beam source. So in the sheet metal machinery, we are supplying machinery, literally to any kind of chop shop or product drop globally. So it could be channel models, or it could be just the sheet metal shops or just around the corner with five employees. And they make nice products by using our punching machine. So this is foul, let's say there's a huge variety in this kind of topics. We are also serving a different markets, like we have low power lasers, like pixels, for example. They can be put into smartphone for let's say, small leaders cannot. So let's see a possible application could be like a face ID recognition. Just to give you an idea where also comes technology could be behind it. And this is just a small example of what we are serving.

    Steve Statler 09:50

    Yeah. So Germany is synonymous with high quality, very strong manufacturing and it seems like TRUMPF is right At the center of that you're producing the equipment that allows that manufacturing to happen. And, you know, one of the innovations, I think that you were on the forefront of was the numerically controlled machines, you know, taking the cutting of and forming of things from something that was done by AI to actually programming it, which is, I mean, where would we be without that? That's amazing.

    Eberhard Wahl 10:28

    Absolutely, it's nowadays it sounds like such a novel product. But at that time, it was just a pure innovation, that different by us. And it's, it's like always, if you look back at con picking innovations, which happened 20 years ago, those sound like so normal today. So elderlies often compare that with men later on, we might talk about unlocks as a new standard for location, then if you just look back 20 years, you will see that the dead time, Wi Fi was something brand new and only known for some, let's say freaks. And nowadays, it's so common. And and that's exactly you know, when the innovation is real, it's just a very normal thing exactly. Like you said, with a CNC laser cutting machine. It's just such a normal product. But it was a tremendously change industry. And that's always what what's coming with real innovations.

    Steve Statler 11:25

    So tracking technologies, it doesn't take a genius to guess how when, you know, the one of the biggest, most powerful, influential pioneering manufacturing firms might need to track assets do real time location, but tell us tell us about the division that you're CEO of this subsidiary.


    That That definitely is nice story behind it. Basically, when we wanted to type industrial IoT, the main goal was pure customer benefit to them. So we wanted our customers to get a more efficient production side, which needs a lot of transparency, we talked about the digital shadow. In order to generate a digital shadow, you need to know the status of everything inside your factory. And the most important thing you have to know is about anything which can move, if you don't know where those things are, you will never have a digital shadow. Very easy thing. So again, if you think about that, you will easily understand, okay, you need somehow a real time location system. So this was, I don't know, roughly a decade ago, when this was clear to us. And at that time, we just thought, Okay, why not, that's, that's nice, this technology is already around, let's use it, we ticked into those kinds of topics and found a lot of companies already been active in this field. So one of it is, for example, UB. Some others, which is well known in US is C #, they have UW P systems already around for quite some time. The problem is all those kind of products, they are fully proprietary. And as we look for a solution for all of our customers, it was a clear no go, that you would take any kind of those potential solutions, and bring this lock in to your 25,000 customers. So it was just discussed and tell them about yourself, okay, we never did it. And we will never build a login for our customer, to a supplier of us. And we will totally astonished at that time that there was no open system. And that was basically when we said okay, we have to build up an open standard. And I tried to poach all the players. And I basically went to all of them. And you probably named them all whenever you think about who played a role in RTLs. I probably knock at their door quite years ago when I told them, okay, couldn't you just agree on one common standard? And if they would just have said yes, it's a good idea. Well, the story would have ended. But basically they told us, no, we will not do it. Because we liked the decimal. Didn't tell they liked that there was a vendor lock in, they didn't put it in this world. But the end of the day, that was more or less what they said, it's in, they liked this kind of business model. And we then looked up the numbers and we found a deal. At that time, they were more than 1000 populated companies building real time location system based on your web. And then I went to them and said, look, it's kind of crazy. They have 1000 of you out there. But why do you think that you the next Apple, it's impossible that there will be one false next Apple and then all of the damage I asked told me, You're right, the other 999 they will fail, but I will be the next Apple. And at some point you give up to trying to convince them to agree on a standard And then I went back to the family, to the company owner, the family and I don't know if it's, for me, it's a real surprise. But they all think they can do in an palpatory. B. And then the family said, Okay, if it's like that, and we might just have just to convince them push to open standards and do the first implementation, just as a demonstration. And that's basically how it all started. So there was, at that time, not even the slightest idea of a business model for us behind it. The only the only reason for doing the first implementation of this open standard was to convince Texas employers to say, look, it's stale. Do it. And this was quite some years ago, and and then the standard was, was there, and then they'll happen something which was not, let's see, foreseen by us. Before then that wants to stand up the stair, and people can see it did, let's say the existing layer will basically join, and then we can retreat from this kind of topic, and leave it to them, because this is their market, not ours. And the good stories, yes, this basically happened. So all the big European companies in the meeting, they are, they joined, unlock. So you'll be sent skin, axon, Siemens, and you name them all. They all members of unlock. So that's quite nice. So and I don't know to what extent but we know that they are more or less developing know, according to the standard, when do the products will come? I don't know. But then something other something else happened. If you look at the business literature, you will find the five forces of Portal and Portal always a desert, let's see

    Eberhard Wahl 16:50

    the competition inside the market. But there can also be new entrants. And the surprising thing where later on we, at the end we it was it's not a real surprise. But the surprising thing for us was when the standard was there. They were told a different segment of companies became interested in this real time location technology. And I just named one example. It's telecommunication providers. What is their business model? Basically, the business model of a company like AT and T and Verizon is they invest some billions, they build up wireless communication networks, and they rent it to everyone on a monthly basis. That's what they do. Now, they never did it for location, but they couldn't do it because there was no standard. Now there is a standard with own locks. And you know, we will not reveal some kind of overwhelmed by their reaction. So they approached us and they told us look, now there's a standard. Basically, we could just do the same thing. Instead of investing some money for a communication wireless network, we can invest in money for location network, because now that sustained, and we can then again, rent it to anyone and you know, do the end devices, can they can come from anywhere from China or whatever. And they came to us and said, look, it looks like you did the first implementation Do you want to serve us? And this was kind of who this was not foreseen. And, well, there wasn't only telecommunication companies, it was also, let's say, from existing builder in building infrastructure companies. So companies who already serve the building a business with the technology infrastructure, so like the number one in lighting, or let's say, really market leaders in bypass access points. So they said, Why not including the standard in the Wi Fi access point already, which will make the overall total cost of ownership for the end customers dramatically cheaper. And now, guess what? So I went back to the family and set them. Okay, officially, the plan was that we just do it for demonstration, and then we retreat. But now there will be billing companies knocking on our door and asking if we can help them now. Because there's a standard to try in this market. What should we do? And then this was basically the starting of the company and Pete delay being adjusted. Okay, well, if they take this for serious, okay, let's make a business out of it. Are you up to it? And I thought about it. And I said, okay, yes, let's do it. And that's how this company started. So it's like now, the existing p&l TLS they are still there. And they start now to develop. And they'll come out with almost compliant products, I don't know, sometimes sooner or later, and they will also new entrants in dia. Some of them are supported by us. And at the end of the day, I'm kind of sure now that this will bring down the costs of indoor location dramatically.

    Steve Statler 19:59

    fascinate Ting, fascinating story. And it's so funny that the initial reaction was now for very human reasons, we all think we're destined for great things, and we're going to be the winner. But, you know, you look at other industries, you know, where would the internet be without stepping stones, you know, if we didn't have HTTP, and that's sort of, where would the database industry be without the SQL standard. And I think, you know, anyone that's looking strategically at a market, and they recognize that they want it to take off, then they should acknowledge that standards have a role. And, you know, if you can compete, the strategies for working with standards, you can still add value. So I'm glad that you persisted. So what is the business model of the tracking technologies, TRUMPF Tracking Technologies GmbH, the the company that you founded.

    Eberhard Wahl 20:59

    So basically, the business model is very simple. So we support the companies, like I mentioned, like for example, Deutsche Telekom is a telecom Keishon. Provider, I'm allowed to name them, I'm not allowed to meet the other companies well,

    Steve Statler 21:14

    and T systems.

    Eberhard Wahl 21:18

    Exactly. So those are customers of us. And again, like lighting companies, or Wi Fi access point, companies, they are customers of us, and we support them in whatever they need. So it's, you know, it's almost an open standard, anyone can build on Locks products. So it's very clear, no need to get support from us. But it's like, a very normal thing, these days that everyone was stood, I cannot do everything. So if you want to use the cloud service, you will basically you rely on AWS or Azure, or whatever you do, and then you get some other stacks from other companies. Because it's, everything is so complicated, you can't do everything. And now, our customers, they say, Okay, we do want to join this dislocation market are now based on the standard. And it's very different, what they take from us. So some of them, they just want our be consulted. Some others, they want to license, some kind of software, some others, they say, Okay, can you give us some blueprints for some kind of help bail. So we do everything, which helps also, to get it done faster. And which is, let's say, in the benefit of the standard. So it's not like this is exactly what you have to take from us. We support those new entrants to get a head start with the amount of length, whatever they need, which basically what we do.

    Steve Statler 22:49

    So consulting, blueprints, blueprints for hardware and software, so how does your software fit relative to, you know, the players like you'd be sent? So we had up senses CTO on the podcast a few months ago? Are you competing with them? Or how does that work?

    Eberhard Wahl 23:11

    So basically, on locks itself by itself, it's a pure standard. So it's nothing else. There's no implementation, it's just a standard. And it's owned by a nonprofit organization. And we'll be cents, also, in the meantime, is a member of this organization. So they're also owning part of the standard, if you put it like that way, by the way, there are 1700 members. And looking at this, anyone can do arm locks. And I'm kind of sure also, at some point, you will find them on Locks products from UB cents. And it's always like that, if you have a standard, at the end of the day, a Wi Fi product, from let's say, Cisco will look similar to a certain extent, like from HP or Guba, or from ubiquity. It's 100%, identical for indoor mobility. So in this way, you will then be able to take a tech from company A and use it with the infrastructure from Company B, just like with Wi Fi. That's a very normal thing. So in this way, it could be the UB sense is developing the same thing based on the standard. But again, the difference is in the implementation. So if you look at Wi Fi access points, you will find a lot of arguments why, for example, Cisco will claim that their Wi Fi access points are better than they want from HP Aruba and, and vice versa. It's very normal, and it's allowed. So they can even have different data rates. So there's still a lot of freedom. The only thing which is 100% defined is interoperability. So the all will work together with your Apple phone or with your Samsung phone or whatever kind of mobile device you have your Dell computer. And in the same way this will then happen In the standard, so I assume that at some point up sense will sell almost compliant products. And so we'll see means to and and also our customers do. And what we basically do we help the New England's to get into this market. That's one thing. I'm not sure how far let's say up send. So Siemens is with the unlock standard, they could probably do the same. They could also help, let's say, Deutsche Telekom to do that. But as we kind of rebuild the driving force behind it, that's one thing, which is really appreciated by our customers is, because we started at the point where the adults were still reluctant. For the standard, we have a time advantage. And that's basically what is our main difference so far?

    Steve Statler 25:51

    Okay, so you are competing with other members? You so tell us a bit more about your offering. And then I will, there's lots of questions I have about the standard. But let's go into that. So what what are the software products that you sell? And do you sell hardware as well? Are you selling Ultra wideband? transmitters, receivers, tanks, locators?

    Eberhard Wahl 26:22

    So it's also a funny thing, it's again, like when you build up a business plan, what do you intend to do it and finally, what you find yourself what you do at the end. So with the business plan, basically, the idea was that the knowledge is in consulting, and the knowledge is basically in blueprints, and it's in software, like firmware, because that's basically, when you have the implementation of the standard. It's basically you can configure it with a piece of software firmware. And before that's basically the core of it, which will help the companies to get up to speed. And we were not thinking really about supplying hardware at that point. Again, it evolved differently. And this is due to the supply shortage. Because at that time, let's say those companies, they ask us, okay, that's really nice that you help us get into speed here with the software, but could you also supply the hardware. And, you know, I'm personally convinced the only reason why they asked for the hobbyist because nobody loves to do software or hardware at the moment, because it's just a mess, little supply chain shortages. So when, although we never intended to become a hardware seller, we basically did it. And we do it. And that's another thing. So it's really sometimes surprising how your business plan evolves over time. And the customer can get hardware elements from us, they can get firmware, they can get software, they can get consulting, it depends what they like. And if they like to do the software by themselves, they can do the software by themselves, if they're likely to be hardware by themselves, they can do the hardware by himself. As I said, again, it's a standard. So whenever they think they can do it by themselves, they can do it by themselves, there's nothing which will hinder them to do it.

    Steve Statler 28:12

    Very good. And the tags that you sell, are they ultrawideband tags,

    Eberhard Wahl 28:19

    they are the text, which will sell the home looks compliant. So look at it like a Bluetooth, it's also a standard and the same is like on locks, it's a standard. So with the arm locks compliant, now if you take a little bit deeper and look into the arm locks end of the standard, you will find that there are two kinds of file s technologies inside the specification. One is you WB. And it's based on the same IEEE specification, like used in, in the smartphone industry. It's IEEE 802 15, four C. And the other one is basically let's say in band communication in 2.4 gigahertz space. And that's how unlocks is defined as an interface. It allows you for identification of an object or location of an object and you have a small very low bandwidth communication channel also in the 2.4 gigahertz area. So with this infrastructure of unlocks insight on Mocksville by no means compete with Wi Fi, you know, this is a total different kind of communications. But you can also have extremely low bandwidth, let's say one bit or several bits of information exchange with you between your 1000s of mobile devices, which also comes with the standard. So technology wise, it's your web and let's say something like CIG be inside the standard.

    Steve Statler 29:50

    Okay, so if I have a company that makes Bluetooth tags or Bluetooth Low key Data hubs that read the tags, that's unlocks is not something that I can conform to this is really a standard for companies that have huge web Ultra wideband RTLs systems.

    Eberhard Wahl 30:15

    No, and I fought about that, it's, it's always the way how you approach on Locks first. There are definitely two phases to the coin. He also reform locks. Again, as I said, on Locks always was driven by the customer benefit. So we looked at the mess they had in the factory with all electronic insulated location, technology, and the missing standard. And we said, Okay, we want to clean this mess, so that any kind of factory owner can just do a simple mix and match. And it's always was defined for the pure benefit of the factory owner. So there was not at the time, not this business model behind the fit of what we do. And again, we only one of 1700 members of on walks and on locks is definitely also very helpful if you're a Bluetooth location technology provider. Why is that? If you look at the factory owner point of view, you will see that if you do want to care about location, you will have different kinds of location sources. And yes, there's some reasons why you might want to use a Bluetooth location sources, or you might want to use a GPS location source outdoors, or you would like to use them 5g location data. And this, this does make sense and we fully understand it. And that's my inside the standard. We also defined a middle layer, which we call unlocks hub, in which all this location data from different sources, is transformed into one coordinate system with defined behavior, and then transmitted via standardized tracing the REST API to the application area. And in this way, it allows us that any kind of location based application is fully technology agnostic, and vendor independent. So this will also totally transform, let's say the location based app marketplace, you can build up a marketplace, like let's say, a Google Play Store now for location based apps based on that. And any kind of Bluetooth location provider can just plug into this on WhatsApp. And any kind of app consuming data is fully independent of where it's coming from. And now you could say why you still need the air interface. The point is, when you look at what you want to do in this kind of factory, you would now say, Okay, now I have different location technologies. And I have one coordinate system. But you still have a problem if you do want to bring in a new device. So there's a need to have inside your factory, this one coordinate system, physically persistent in your womb. And that's basically what's defined with the MCSA interface. So let's put it that way. If you get full on Roxtec, you can add in GPS, five G Bluetooth, by the way, also maps which come out of an ATV with their own slam, they can all put into that and transform the one coordinate system. And this one coordinate system, which is better for your factory is also persistent in your room. Which means at some point, you can buy a power tool for fastening a bolt. And inside a Power Pool unlocks is already included, just like Wi Fi is included in your apple smartphone. And there will be no indication of effort and you will not need any kind of technicians because it will automatically show up on the home looks up in the next second. And any kind of app can consume it and automatically document what to do with this device and just see Oh, integration effort. And in order to do that, you do need a persistent coordinate system standardized and that's why we define the locks and

    Steve Statler 34:07

    excellent. So I love that vision of being buying a power tool. And I'm sure factory owners love the idea or construction sites, I imagined this would be very relevant for construction sites where you are keeping track of these assets. So the hub is agnostic of the the you know the radio technologies that are used. But it seems like in the case of UW B, there's more there's more. There's more specification so you have more depth for the UW B arm than then maybe the for, for, say a Bluetooth tag vendor.

    Eberhard Wahl 34:55

    There's a reason for that. A Bluetooth is already a standardized interface. So that's fully standardized. Yes, you have interoperability improve. That's fine. I don't see why we should invest any second. Yes, this was not existing before a new web. That's one thing. The other thing is, there's a reason why companies like Apple choose to include your web in their smartphone, awful Bluetooth was already there. And this is not because you can't do location with Bluetooth, it's just in a critical situation like, especially non line of sight conditions, you do your WBS. And you can move this physically, far more stable. And that's why you WB shows up in all the Apple products. And this is why you WB shows up in nine calls and in a lot of other things. And that's why when we thought about what could be the high technology inside the factory to make the coordinate system persistent, you cannot rely on a on the line of sight technology, you have to take the most hopeless one. And the funny thing is, at that time, you know, we had a group of engineers looking for the most reliable technology for non line of sight conditions inside an industrial space. And now we know that at the same time, Apple was having the same kind of question for consumer in both teams ended up with the same answer. Unfortunately, Tim Cook did not tell me about that. If not, we could have already streamlined the physical level before. But it did not it for me, which was a little bit of pity. But but that's basically what it was. So it was a similar question how, what is the most reliable and robust technology in critical conditions? And it's easy at any kind of technology group, after investigating this topic, we'll come up with the answer, it will be you web and that's why it's in the Apple smartphone. And that's why it's in the unlock standard. And now if your web at that time would have already been standardized, we would again, just use this one, but there was no air interface standard at the time. That's why we said okay, then that's the other thing we have to do. Let's solve it, because that was our task, we want to clean up this mess.

    Steve Statler 37:09

    Okay, so I spent a lot of time talking to the Bluetooth world. And so I I've always admired Ultra wideband, and I think it has, it's obviously flourishing, I kind of personally believe that this is probably not going to be there's no one perfect technology for every thing. And so it's important to have a toolkit and, you know, full disclosure, I worked for a Bluetooth tech company. So how would, how would I as a Bluetooth tag vendor support this standard, I, you know, believe in the philosophy, and I kind of understand that, you know, at a transport level, then I can use the Bluetooth standard. And that still allows me to talk to this unlocks hub, how does? How would you know, an estimate or a contact IO or a company, or even a Williard? How would we support the unlock standard, if we wanted to join it,

    Eberhard Wahl 38:15

    it's extremely easy. The API is described how this will be integrated into the unlocks app. And you can just fulfill the API. At the moment, this is not fully done, there will be a certification for this interface. Well, you can also apply to get a certificate for this interface of that the customer is convinced, okay, if I buy this product, I don't need to fuss about it and have a lot of work, I can just plug it in and drill on. And that's the simplest way and then you can plug in your Bluetooth location service easily. And I fully agree again, that it's not like one technology will do it all. It will not be the leader will also be home for RFID and other things. And that's the nice thing about it on WhatsApp. No matter where the information is coming from. It will, let's say click one clickable is an object. And you can add to one clickable, a different location technology. So you could put it unlocks a URL tag on it, you could put the bill your Bluetooth on it. And you could put a GPS receiver on it. And you could put all of them on it. And they will then be combined in their markup. It's the same object with the same trackable ID. And any application on top of the omics app will not know that, let's say in this second day location data comes from GPS and yellow second, it's come from Bluetooth and now it's another place it comes from unlocks. It doesn't have to care about it. It will no matter where you are it will always get the best kind of location information and this makes it so simple because you get it totally seamless.

    Steve Statler 40:02

    That's interesting. So how far does the standard go? What what are the tell us a bit more about the hub interface? So presumably, is it like an X, Y, and Z location? How do you or is it more logical? It's in the, you know, it's in this room in this bin? How do you transmit this location information? How do you define it?

    Eberhard Wahl 40:28

    Again, you're fully uplifting by the customer benefit. So in total, we now collected close to 250, different use cases. And we looked all in, we can fulfill all of them. And then we understood it, for example, what does the help have to do? So one thing he has to do is basically transform it into one coordinate system, we also understood that to get really globally seamless clicking, you also have to transform it into WGS 84. So when to longitude latitude, that's also something which is in the standard, and other things we understood is that you distinguish, as I mentioned, between applicable and provider zones. And the next thing, which we found by looking at all the use cases is that we have to include an event management for geo fences into this hub area, for the simple reason that for a lot of topics, different kind of applications, will act on the same event, like if you enter a geofence, like a geofence, could, for example, give you a trigger for booking, it could also give you a trigger for starting a machine, it could given data flow information for storing something, it could be the same geofence event. And that's why we said okay, then this geofencing event has to be inside it on WhatsApp so that the applications have on top of it, they can just consume it, and they will get the same trigger for the same geofence. And by the way, this geofence is independent of the zone. So you can build a geofence and a part of the geofence, it could happen that you get triggered by GPS on the other side, by the unlock calls on the other side by Bluetooth. It's always just, let's say a global geofence. That's it. It's also this geofencing event is totally technology agnostic. And, and this is basically then what the unlocks hub is doing. So we designed it in a way that really the application level is above and everything you need in between, which is one coordinate system, longitude, latitude, common event handling is done in this layer, and anyone can build his own laptop, by the way, there are already different kinds of companies supplying it.

    Steve Statler 42:47

    Interesting. Okay, I think I understand that. So I can see how that would be very valuable for assets, nuts, bolts, screws, components, machines, what about perishable products, medicine and food? Do you have a way of sharing, you know, the condition, the temperature, that sort of sensing information, as well as the coordinates? Is that part of the standard yet?

    Eberhard Wahl 43:21

    That's a nice question. Again, as I mentioned, almost as a community, so we have working groups and companies need to discuss the use cases. And for sure, at some point, let's put it that way. You define this end of phase, and you say this is pure location, and then there will be some company thing. Look, all I want is that in this tech, I want to switch on a light. When someone is searching for it. It's only a light. So this is not really communication. It's just a one bit information. So you say okay, yes, it makes sense. So you discuss about it. And then there's someone else saying, Look, I would like to do a power tool. And all I want to know is when the power pool is on. And this is only a one bit information. So it's not really communication. And if at the end of the day, you discover that you have on an uplink data communication and downlink data communication, you have a bi directional data communication. It's Yes, only low bandwidth. But it's basically Dale. Because we did not close the door. Totally. If you don't close it totally. It's probably open by definition. And it's like that, because we had a lot of discussion in the working group. So basically, this kind of information is a tunneled in the unlocks hub and in the omics interface, and you can come feel extremely low bandwidth tunnel data. Now there will be probably fairly enough aggression for what is the bandwidth? And here at the moment, we are really struggling with devalue what we put there in the specification. So if you would come up with this kind of question, the answer would be This is exactly under discussion now in the working groups.

    Steve Statler 45:04

    Very interesting. So I mean, you could go from that I can see, you could end up segwaying into electronic shelf labels where there's a real, you know, flow of data and you want to know where the shelf labels are. But where does the standard begin and end? And how do you accommodate other standards? I guess standards are never done, are they? And it sounds like, you know, if I look at one of the most successful standards, Bluetooth, then they have a myriad of working groups and, and so there's

    Eberhard Wahl 45:34


    Steve Statler 45:35

    So can you speak briefly about the working group structure? How many working groups are there? What are the things that you're working on?

    Eberhard Wahl 45:44

    Okay, so if we look, let's say, from the workflow, then I'm head of the working code use case, which is basically where everything starts. So we are collecting all this kind of use cases, and we go out to the customers, we get in discussions, and we describe it in a standardized way. What does the customer want to do, and then we structure them and build clusters. And we'd like to add, we have different target markets here and use case like industry, warehousing, healthcare retail, into one, and we collect them and cluster them into different kind of target markets, then we check what is needed in order to fulfill this kind of use cases. And we hand then this high level requirements over to two different working groups. One is to work in coop on locks up, which is defining this API. And this locks up behavior, according to our specification derive from use cases. And the other one is to work in coop on what's called zone, which is defining the specification for the interface for the persistent coordinate system inside. And everything is driven by this use cases and that if at some point, you will have time to read the specification, you will see that it's probably more complicated than you would expect it to be. But it's due to the fact that this is a multi purpose infrastructure, and you have dozens and hundreds of companies bringing in their requirements. At the end, it is not that simple as you might think it could be because, you know, one publication, for example, one use cases, I want to locate something very accurately. And then you have to define a mode, which is doing this on the server level says yes, I want to locate on the server or the mobile devices, but I want to do it extremely energy efficient, even if it's not that accurate. Okay, so it's another location, standard in the same infrastructure. And then the HTV, come to town comes as I want to sell application. And I want to get it at a fixed update rate, because I wanted to end the coalition. And there must be no load in the system. So you end up okay, this is now done, you can call it downlink to a other direction. And then someone will say yes, it's a good idea. But I want to do it fully anonymous. And so that no one even knows that I do it. And then the next one says, okay, Anonymous is fine, but you have to control it, and so on, you know, that's exactly how those discussions goes on. And so far for the interface. Really, it works. And it's all specified, all those modes are in parallel, which you can easily imagine the system is is not extremely simple. But it's fully mobile, multi purpose compatible.

    Steve Statler 48:35

    Yeah. How? Where is the standard in terms of its progress and maturity? How long is on Locks been around for? Give us a sense of

    Eberhard Wahl 48:49

    that? Yeah, it's a nice question. I think I mentioned earlier that we be a devote defining this standard and parallel will some teams at Apple, we are defining ethics, and they're kind of location technology. And as I said, again, unfortunately, Tim Cook never told me about it. And this is really this has an effect on the timeline, because basically, we were already with our specification, everything done on your web. And at that time, Apple came out with the products and then we had a discussion inside the community with all the members because we we understood it was a game changer. Before you know be the only one we define the only global standard for your web, but you cannot neglect if Apple is stale. And then we we understood that Apple is defining their own proprietary products and later on, based on the what Apple is doing. The complete global industry met and they are defining the physical layer in it at least and I didn't really I didn't want to point 15.4 See if this happened after Apple did his Margaret Bentley and st. Cook as a set never told me about his activities. The first homework standard was defined independently of this idea of least and we could not be aware of that. Which means we then had an a member voting and the member said, Okay, by no means Apple and Samsung will follow what we define an industry. If we want to get the cost down and use the same chipset, we have to follow their kind of triplet definition. And this means that the answer is on what is already there, you can buy it, no problem. On the omics upside. It's a continuous evolution, it's totally nice, no problem. On the end phase, there is one step where there's some kind of disruption. So there's almost a course on Wilson one, which was defined before this I triple E thing after Apple happened in the US now the unlock costs on version two, which is on the physical layer of fully compatible on the chipset side, like with Apple and Samsung, and all the other the consumer devices. So in order to bring the cost down, for sure, by definition, if you do something like that, the compatibility between these two levels are not Dell, by definition, because we had to do a jump, you know, on what Apple defined. So this is something you normally would never do. If you have a standard you would always say I have an evolution with an up side I'm competent downlink. comparability, but here, we said, Okay, we're still early enough, independent nation, right is still not at high. So we switch to the new physical layer, and go to omics version two. And, and that's why this situation today is like, okay, um, looks more than stale. But every company, they develop their products down almost version two. And it's almost version two is, it is there it is specified, but it took some time, you know, after we understood what Apple and Samsung is doing. We expect that the unlocked version two products, and they will be the product, which will then be there for the mass market. And they will most likely emerge in volume in 2023.

    Steve Statler 52:19

    And I assume Apple is not a member of all locks, but it sounds like you've made on locks to, you know, with an eye to aligning with the de facto standards that they ended up driving. Correct? Oh, no.

    Eberhard Wahl 52:39

    This is this is correct. At the time, in the meantime, it looks like that, that if you look at the global picture, there are some associations and some topics where all the players meet. So unlocks is representing you web technology in the industry. And so for example, these times, everyone knows each other. So still, if Apple will do something new to Tim Cook will not inform me that for sure. But now at least we innovated if you look at what's going on in I triple E, so people from unblocks meet with people from Apple and you know, other Association, like for example, car Connectivity Consortium. So you might be aware that, let's say if you buy a BMW these days, you don't have to get the physical key anymore. You can get use your apple smartphone as a key. And in order to prevent a man in the middle of tech, this is protected by your web. Which means there's also let's say your standard, which has to be defined for the car to connect the car with the smartphone, this is the car Connectivity Consortium, another Association. And they also define in the mobility and new web on the on the same lower level. So let's put it that way. These days, we have the big associations like like arm locks, etc. And there's basically feel left and then there's apple, and they meet now in the I triple E or let's say, if you have regulation topics like FCC, and those will be now joined forces and everyone knows each other and things defined and now Tryphon in a mutual agreement,

    Steve Statler 54:19

    how many years is on luck's been going?

    Eberhard Wahl 54:23

    So to start was it's now six and a half years ago, on Locks went public, mid of 2020. So the working took place on a different name. And once everything was proven in the fields products were ready. We went public in mid 2020. Cool

    Steve Statler 54:44

    and 1700 members is a good that's a great base of participants. And I'm assuming that includes manufacturers as well as potential users of the technology You as well.

    Eberhard Wahl 55:01

    So I have to be, I would like to be more precise on this number. So I'm, I'm Lux is part of a nonprofit organization. And there are four committees themes in this nonprofit organization. One is profit bus prophy. Net IO link and unlocks. And they are all handled by the same organization. And this organization does have in total 1700 members, and they all own all those standards together. So if you're a member of this organization, you're part owner of unlocks and of COVID, Bucha, and Orphanet. All of it because it's one organization. So the companies, if not, we would never be able to define any kind of upgrade of the standard if you would have to discuss everything with 1700. So let's see, did they want actively in all the working groups, it's like always in the world, at the end of the day, you end up with some dozens of companies who finally type it in some other hundreds who use it and consume it. It basically it?

    Steve Statler 56:02

    No, that makes sense. So it's like Bluetooth has 30,000 members, but they're not defining the standard. They're just adopting it. So do you have a certification process? So you know, Wiliot out decides it's going to comply to the unlock standard? We join, we download the specs, we start to change our cloud service so that we can return these coordinates. Is there an audit process? Or is it self certification? How does that work?

    Eberhard Wahl 56:35

    Yes. And that reminds me that unfortunately, I did not finish to answer your last question about the working group. So as we said, we have to work in coop use case, we have to work in coop Colson, we have to work in coop up. And we also have to work in coop testing. And debugging, code testing is defining this kind of testing process and certification process. They are not done with all these kinds of certificates at the moment. So at the moment, if like billiard wants to get a certificate for, let's say connecting to download sub, DNS would be in focus. And the way this is handled is that an external company in an IQ was also everyone could apply to why this test shoot for the certification process. And the bid was done and the company is selected. And but the development is not done. So the software is not yet there. And once the software is stale, you can check after you develop it according to the standard into the certification test with this software. And this is headed by them, how much testing. And then there's the last Working Group, which is always needed, which was the working group marketing into beta key to the communication.

    Steve Statler 57:49

    And so presumably, so one of the questions that I think everyone would want to know is, you know, how many products are there that conformed to the standard. And it's early days with regards to to standards, but I'm assuming that test process needs to be completed in order for you to be able to say I've got, you know, 1000 different products in these different categories that conform to the standard.

    Eberhard Wahl 58:23

    The real problem about that is, and I'm sure you're aware of that, that by competition laws, it's always strictly forbidden in this kind of standardization, meetings, to exchange any information about roadmaps about price, the pricing, they are really high, high fines on the head, so you really don't do it, which means them officially nobody is allowed to know what the others are doing, which is also the case. So to be very clear, like some two weeks ago, there was no three weeks ago there was Hannover fair and they are Luanda Okay, POSIX is having this new kind of omics product. Then, some other weeks ago, there was a conference in Denmark, Denmark, and then an original Siemens employee on the conference told yes, we will come out with our next product six years. So this is how I also officially collected it's no offer, you're in the working groups, you will you're not allowed to and you never communicated in detail. So it's just like picking up on conferences where you understand. They do it, they do it. So the rest is guesswork. Again, on all the critical elements, what I see is, and that's the good thing we have on every element, no matter if you want on the chip level, if you want the module level, if you want the hub level. We always have second sources. I think it's the good and very important thing. And, again, I would expect that the variety of products being offered. I think the big amount will start in 22 under free.

    Steve Statler 1:00:01

    Excellent. So let's say you are leading a very interesting division within a very large company with a lot of history. How did you get to your role?

    Eberhard Wahl 1:00:16

    Well, basically, it's because of, I'm convinced of what I do. So it's, I always liked to do what I love in what I do and what I feel is hired to do. So I was never driven by money or career. And when industry 4.0 came out, and it started in Europe, at some point, I was totally convinced that the only way to make this real and make it happen is by to base it on open standards. And then when I stopped pushing open standards, and this was basically supported by our owner of the company of Tom, because he understood that we need those kind of open standards. And well, I could take a detail, but we want to do a diagnostic field question. But long story short, at some point, we understood in order to get this open standard for location real, we have to do a little bit more than just ask others for doing it. And that's why we finally at some point, decided to build this company, where I'm now CEO of,

    Steve Statler 1:01:18

    well, you know, I live and work in California. Now, I grew up in England, as you can probably tell. But here, it seems like everyone's changing jobs while I'm in San Diego. So people are changing jobs every two or three years, you up into the Bay Area, it seems like people are changing jobs every year. You're, you've been with TRUMPF for a little bit longer than that. How? Tell us a little bit about that. Is that typical, more typical in Germany? Do people have more stable careers?


    I think four on one side is definitely more typical in Germany. That's part of it. Yes. The other thing is that in which company you are in, what do you feel what you can do? So let's put it that way. 30 years ago, I left the company which is called IBM, I was also working for IBM long ago. And at that time, I was in a small subsidiary of IBM, nowhere in Germany, and whatever you do, they will be no one recognized somebody in the headquarter. Now, this time, I'm with Tom. And this is a family owned business. I'm located in the headquarter and I'm directly reporting to the owner. So that's one thing which makes life easier. And that's a combination in which you can really do innovation on a long term perspective. And the other thing is that I'm reporting to Peter, Liberia. And Peter leaving, you get, let's say, let's pull it up with the highest declaration you can get in Germany from government, for innovation. And that's because you feel special. So he loves to support innovation, although there is uncertainty in it, as long as he likes division. And that's, for example, why, in some ways TRUMPF is uniquely for what we're doing. And let's see, to directly report to such a person is just a wonderful combination to really tie for count breaking innovations.

    Steve Statler 1:03:17

    Yeah, I can absolutely see that I think all of us kind of looking to leave our mark. And you seem to have an incredible opportunity to do that you're riding a wave, which is changing the world, and you've got the ear of the family that controls the purse strings, you don't have to worry about shareholders. And so I think Your hat's off to you. I think you've managed to engineer a great role. But let's talk a bit more about you on the personal side. What are the three songs that you've selected that you would want to take on this long journey that we're sending you on?

    Eberhard Wahl 1:04:02

    Well, it's a real nice question. So I thought about it and I really came up with a free night song. So one is some of 69 by pine atoms, so I'm sure you're very well known. For the simple reason that's probably the song I was denting for the most part of my life. Always using the song. Last it was just some some hours ago. The second one is wind of change from scorpions. I'm not sure if this is well known in us, as Cobbins is a German Coupe de they make nice songs in English and wind of change is basically a song about perestroika and glasnost. It's very important for when Germany became one company out of the two different companies. And this was nice, this Skype song might have change in just a moment. It looks like we're living in an area will demand it changed again in the wrong direction, probably. But that's another thing why I like this kind of song quite quite nicely. This was written at the end of the first Cold War. And difficult song is something which is totally impossible that you know, we did the German one. And so anyway, I tried to name it, it's called, is Camilla kinda and, and really cool this guy a fluke mutual you never heard about it. And the reason why I like it, I would put it that way. It's kind of a song you would nowadays describe as this is perfectly for this islands. So whenever you have a tough task for you, and it will not take just enough energy for one day or one week or one month, but you probably need the energy for some years. It's the right, just a perfect song to listen to. And whenever you think about building up a global standard, I can promise you, you will need to have a lot of energy.

    Steve Statler 1:06:05

    Please, I can believe it. Yeah, I've fantasized about these things. You're actually doing it and I can. I'm sure you're right. That's great. I love those choices of scorpions. One is really thought provoking, given where we are. And hopefully Yeah, you know, this world events seems to swing on a pendulum. And we're kind of in a bit of a scary place at the moment. But it's nice to be able to think back to a time when things seem to be resolving in a positive direction. Very good. Thank you very much, totally. Well, this is great. Any few things that you think we should cover to give people kind of the 101, the first view of unlocks, it's been an eye opener for me. Anything else we should cover? Before we wrap up?

    Eberhard Wahl 1:06:55

    Well, basically, like always visit the site, which is, I think, easy to remember. And whenever you have a question, just contact some of the locks members. And there's also LinkedIn group and all those kinds of things. And it's really open. And you're welcome, anyone to join.

    Steve Statler 1:07:15

    Wonderful. Let's see, I really appreciate your time. It's been fascinating. TRUMPF is such a cool company, too. I'm glad I now understand a bit more about it, I think unlocks is a standard that's really needed. And I wish you the best. And we should probably talk offline about what what we can do. But I think it's good work that you're doing so well done. Thank you. So that was a lot certainly changed my frame of reference, the way I think about real time location systems, to really interesting ideas on standardization, and something that I'm certainly going to be spending more time to learn about. Thank you for giving us your time staying through to the end, and you're a part of the elite, complete a finishing group that does that. I look forward to talking to you again, in our next podcast. As always, please, telling your colleagues anyone that you think that could benefit from from what we do. And until next time, stay safe.