Mister Beacon Episode #140
Choosing an Indoor Location and Navigation SystemDecember 14, 2021
This week we speak with one of the leaders in indoor navigation, Pointr sales leader Paul Dupont, who shares how their platform has evolved over the past 5 years, the use cases that are taking off and insights into the issues that buyers should be aware of before investing into Indoor Positioning Systems.
Plus, we share some advanced information on Wiliot’s new Starter Kit, which now makes their Internet of Everyday things technology available to Everyone for the first time
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Steve Statler 00:00
Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. Wonderful to have you with us. This next segment is going to be an interesting one. The very first company that we interviewed on the Mr. Beacon podcast years and years ago, was this British company called Pointr. And over 140 episodes later, I thought it'd be really interesting to have them back on the show, and to do a checkpoint on where they are. And they're doing really well. So stand by and have a listen to Paul DuPont is one of the executives at Pointr, and hear a bit about the use cases that are really moving the needle in terms of indoor location, indoor navigation, and RTLs. We'll hear a bit about his history, which is a fascinating one, how he got his his role, a Pointr. And I think it's, it's a good educational moment to get a sense of how this company has survived, why it's survived, and where they're seeing success. Where is the gold buried in this Internet of Things landscape that we're traversing? Before we go on to that I'm going to take a brief commercial break, normally, our sponsorship notices are pretty light, we have the occasional ad that goes on, and the money goes from those ads, currently, at least is kind of the monarch school for kids for homeless kids here in San Diego. And the sponsorship that we get from Willie up just allows me to keep this show going on and and provide some of the resources required to get it out there. So a quick commercial break for for us here at Willie. Willie has just launched its first ever starter kit. So up until now, we're the author of this company that I work for my day job where we make computers the size of a postage stamp that power themselves by harvesting radio frequency energy and, and now the cloud system that is connecting those tags and providing the sensing data, doing amazing things. That has always been the our customers have always been some of the largest companies in the world and typically cost a lot of money to get into our early adopter program, you're talking 50 $100,000 To get access to this product that we think is going to change the world. Well, now that price has come down to $500. So we've got to the point with version two product where the product is maturing, it's still it's still not 405 dot O, but we're seeing amazing results 10s of 1000s of tags being deployed on items of apparel and plastic crates, garbled boxes and things that previously weren't connected to the internet and are being connected and the sensing and automation. It's all integrated. So find words, but people often want to know, does it work? And the answer is it depends on what you want to do. How do you find out more? Well, you can actually buy a starter kit for $500. Go to Willie up.com. And if you want to go directly you go to Willie comm slash starter hyphen kit, starter kit. And you can be one of the first to get your hands on this technology that we think is going to help solve climate change, make food better medicine safer, and open up some incredible new business models for companies that sell ordinary things rather than expensive things that can now be connected to the internet. So that's the end of our little commercial break. Now on to our friends at Pointr the Mr. Beacon podcast is sponsored by William intelligence everyday, our client IoT pixels. So this week's guest is Paul DuPont of Pointr. Paul, welcome to the show.
Paul Dupont 04:32
Nice to be here Steve
Steve Statler 04:35
Well, it's actually a very special poignant episode having you on it's kind of unusual in a number of ways, but one of them is that our very first episode back in 2016 was interviewing Chris Schultz, who at the time was a Pointr and I was over in London visiting here from the States. And it was, it was a great discussion I thought, and that was episode one. And I think this will be like the 130/9. Episode. So, you know, I was gonna say bookends, but we actually do intend to continue the podcast. But certainly, I think very interesting. Pointr is a super interesting company, or a you're still around. So how many IoT ecosystem companies from 2016 are still around? There's a lot that have fallen by the wayside. So you're, you're doing some things right. And you focused on indoor positioning navigation location. And I think some asset tracking as well, we'll get into all of that. So these use cases have evolved a bit since 2016. So I'm looking forward to, to, to, to our discussion. So maybe we should start off with just introducing for people that didn't listen to episode one of the Mr. Beacon podcast, who is or who are Pointr and what you do.
Paul Dupont 06:18
And yeah, so I think the company has probably probably evolved since since since the first interview in 2016. Although I think the core product, a though better is largely the same. So firstly, I'm Paul, I head up sales for Pointr. And the company, the main product that we have is software for indoor positioning, and then the services that kind of wrap around that. So with that, it's essentially a blue dot that shows accurate user location on a mobile device. That's the core of our product that uses beacons in order to enable that. And but then, you know, as you said, we also have a range of other products around that bit, mapping or be some asset tracking functionality as well, that tie that into kind of a broad solution.
Steve Statler 07:18
So I was scanning your website looking to see what's changed. And I saw you'd coined the term d L. A s deep location as a service. That's so well done for confusing people even more about this as a service stuff. But I do like the deep location tag, it implies something that we should all have, what is the difference between deep location and regular indoor location?
Paul Dupont 07:50
And so you can thank our marketing team for that. They know, so it's our twist on on indoor location or indoor positioning, which revolves around being scalable, and being software focused. Right. So it's the core concept that we have is that product is designed to be able to be deployed anywhere and very quickly in an indoor environment versus, you know, some some other indoor location solutions, which might not have that depth of ability.
Steve Statler 08:34
And why can your solution be deployed faster than any other solution?
Paul Dupont 08:41
Ah, so we have a variety of nice little things that we do that enable us to do that. So the first of which is the way the technology works. So that algorithm, or the SDK that goes into the into into the mobile device, via our clients app, does the positioning on the device itself, using that the beacons around it, which means that it doesn't need to do any fingerprinting? It doesn't need to do. It doesn't need to access the internet at all. And it means that when we do a deployment, we can just use either, for example, existing infrastructure that's already there. Or we can just go in and place beacons as necessary. And something that we've got very good at doing during the pandemic, is we train our clients to to put the beacons up themselves so we don't even need to go on site to do which I think
Steve Statler 09:49
you said you don't do fingerprinting. So you know, what is fingerprinting and how do you avoid doing it?
Paul Dupont 09:56
So, fingerprinting is is the process of when you're doing an indoor location deployment. And walking around first, walking around with a mobile device and collecting radio signal strength as you as you wander the site, device collects, it says that in, you walk a fixed route. And along that route, it says at this point, I detect the RSSI strength of beacons or Wi Fi, or geomagnetic,
Steve Statler 10:34
the received signal strength. That's right, you can Yeah, normally walk around, you'd be kind of recording the signal strength, and presumably, you'd be doing some indication of where you are on a given floor plan at the same time.
Paul Dupont 10:50
That's right. So you mark where you are, it ties it together with the field strength around you, then that gets turned into essentially a fingerprint, you'd look at a floor plan, and you'd see much like on a thing, you'd see grooves and, and, and peaks where the signal strength varies. So over a short period of time, let's say three to six months or so that signal strength doesn't vary so much. So you can upload that signal to the cloud. And then when a user wants to explore the area, they download the fingerprint. And then your mobile device will compare the the signal strength, the fields signal strength around you with that fingerprint, and then place you on top of on top of that location. And that is good. Yeah, I think that's that's what we call like an infrastructure free deployment, which is something we don't do. Or one using, for example, like existing Wi Fi. What happens is over time, as you move furniture around, or as a Wi Fi AP breaks, or as somebody doesn't, that that fingerprint changes, and it means that you need to walk around and do the fingerprint again. So the advantage to our technology is we don't do that at all. And the beacons which are placed either in for example, like a Wi Fi, AP and the lighting, or standalone, they get they get installed in the ceiling, we will log them where they are in, in our point cloud, which is our back end. And then the mobile device will itself it will do a calculation based on when it hears those beacons. But it will also combine it with the for example that the gyroscope of the step counter the, you know, the inertial sensors on the device in order to produce that blue.so It doesn't. So, you know, one client deployment that we did in 2017, I went to go visit and end of beginning of 2020. You know, we've not been there, we've not touched it, we're not doing anything. And the blue duck was still working exactly as it should be giving high accuracy. It's, that's, that's that's our main focus, right?
Steve Statler 13:10
Very good. And that's something that's evolved, presumably over time to be a differentiator. So one of the perennial issues with location platforms is kind of the the boundaries, you know, boundary between floor one and floor two, because sometimes signals tend to kind of get confusing, especially when you're going up staircases, and that sort of thing. And if you're doing navigation and the dots kind of moving around or in the wrong place, then in key transitions from one floor to another, that can be a real problem. So how do you approach Multi Floor? Is there something better about what you do versus other people do with respect to that?
Paul Dupont 14:03
Yeah, so transitions, be they uptown or for example, indoor outdoor as well, these kinds of transitions and stuff that we we like to think were the best. So when it comes to floors, again using the natural light so as to go back to your original point. So with with floor level transitions, especially in places with mezzanines, or variable height ceilings, which there are more and more off in new builds, right, like new builds crazy beautiful buildings with all kinds of environments that make it very difficult for anybody in in the radio world, right, which is
Steve Statler 14:45
like a shopping center, which has open space where the radio waves can propagate about, you know, all sorts of different heights and quirky quirkiness,
Paul Dupont 14:55
or airports with solid walls made entirely of aluminum sheets. that sort of thing. I think I think it can make life. So what we have is because we use the inertial sensors, we know whether the user has jumped or not right. And by and large, they tend not to randomly jump between floors. So we can use this net counter on iPhones, for example, and I think some Android devices, we can use the barometer to check for like pressure level changes, or moving up and down. And it gives a really smooth and natural transition as you go between floors. And as actually, it's a real, it's a real good many of our customers had an awful experience with with in the past with with a blue dot that would jump between floors. And this is actually one of the main reasons that people eventually come to us.
Steve Statler 16:01
Yeah, we were talking before this about the second surgeon phenomenon, the you go, you have your knee done with the doctor, that's just down the road, and it's terrible, and you're, but you then actually do the research and you find the people that are the real specialists that are the best in the business. And I think you would claim to be the second surgeons of indoor positioning, right? It seems like a lot of your business comes after people have had a very bad experience with something else.
Paul Dupont 16:33
Yeah, the I think, probably probably the majority. Certainly, our bigger resellers in people who take our technology and package it into their own products and then resell it on. They've I think all of them had an unsatisfactory experience with with a blue dot that jumped or wasn't consistent or wasn't accurate, or wasn't easy to deploy. And we've replaced them. And in a sense, that's good. Because, uh, you know, we're not, we're certainly not the lowest cost provider out there. But we don't, we don't try to be, we want to be the best. And so we'll have a will participate in a bid. And then maybe 18 months later, we'll then participate in the replacement, but it happens quite a bit.
Steve Statler 17:33
So what can you say about pricing? Your what can you talk? How much detail can you give us about the pricing approach, I think people are looking at the industry are interested, Zoom li it's a some kind of subscription.
Paul Dupont 17:48
Yeah, so for the service, we break it down into different products. So we have our professional services. And then we have our licensing support. And our professional services, for example, include installation, creation of maps, some software services or customization is required. Then we have our licenses, which are what we call Blue Dot geo fencing, which is purely we give you a blue dot, and we put it inside your. So sometimes some of our customers, they use it to track mobile devices, for example, they don't actually want to display to the user where they are on there, they just want to get the information, then pump it up to the cloud, so they can do analytics or whatever. Then we add another layer on top, which is maps and wayfinding, which is where we take the blue dot, and then we create some maps, and we put the blue.on, top of the maps, and then we enable the Wayfinding. So that would be for example, in shopping malls or in airports, for many different places. But so far, that's where we've deployed our maps and blue documents. And then we have analytics on top of that. So understanding where people went, how they move around. And then finally, asset tracking, which is a different sort of thing. All of those products are driven by the area that we deploy. So we calculate the square footage. And then we have a square foot price that we multiply by the unit price. And then we have a deployment price. And for some clients who have 1000s of venues, you know, we wouldn't be looking at square foot pricing. It wouldn't make sense for them, it would be more like per venue pricing. So you know, we can be a bit flexible. But our square foot pricing is where it all starts.
Steve Statler 19:46
And what about numbers of users if I had one have one user or a million users cyborg?
Paul Dupont 19:52
Well, we don't want to penalize people for using the product. You see what I mean? So we want as many people Use it. So we don't charge a per user fee. A world of real estate that are which is, which is where we're seeing the majority of growth right now. Office real estate workplace. Everybody's going back to the office. That whole world is dominated by square foot pricing, which is why don't we we fit into that category.
Steve Statler 20:22
So if I'm an airport, how much does it cost to get indoor navigation?
Paul Dupont 20:30
Are you a big airport? So
Steve Statler 20:32
I'm a medium sized Portland, San Diego airport, something like that. It's not he shot he throws customers, what?
Paul Dupont 20:44
In the world of airports have to be little careful ethics. Gatwick, certainly. Yeah, then in the US. So we're in the United app, providing location. We do some stuff at JFK, in Dubai airports in Doha, I think there's 22 in total, maybe 23. Now
Steve Statler 21:19
sort of trying to get a rough sense of what it costs to, I'm thinking about them. And maybe I'm just gonna have a list of the shops in my airport, or no, maybe I'm gonna have navigation to help people find the lounges and the toilets and the shops, which can make me more money, because that's how airports make money, or one of the ways they make money, at least big shopping malls with planes attached.
Paul Dupont 21:43
That's, that's pretty much it. So. So usually, there is an app, as you said, which we don't develop, the our customer will develop their own app. And then they'll just put our technology into that. App production is, you know, is an expensive business. And it's also highly cost customize configurable, which you know, my team, our team is all about hammering out this, this one product at scale, right? All about indoor positioning. So it's not about customizing. And so I mean, an airport, depending on the infrastructure that's already in place, if you want if you've got an app already, and then you want to put in positioning, it can be anywhere between 50,000 to a quarter of a million, depending on depending on what you call in a year
Steve Statler 22:38
or a year, that
Paul Dupont 22:39
would be a year.
Steve Statler 22:41
And one of the things you talked about was depends on the infrastructure. So some airports like San Diego airport deployed a bunch of Qualcomm comm beacons gimbal beacons, oh, my goodness, part of the gimbal. So what what beacons you work with? What we can see what we work with
Paul Dupont 23:09
any any kind of Beacon? We we love to work with beacons that are already in infrastructure? Yes, because beacon that's in the Wi Fi AP, or in the lighting is one that doesn't need a battery. And and is already there. And everybody loves that.
Steve Statler 23:30
Yeah. But what about beacons like Eddystone ephemeral ID or gimbal? beacons, they're constantly rotating the they use randomize MAC addresses and the payloads are encrypted. How do you deal with that?
Paul Dupont 23:46
So by and large, we use IV conformer. Unless there's a particular reason to use another form. Okay. We can manage encryption or rotating beacons, as long as we also have access to that rotation.
Steve Statler 24:04
The API so if you're, so y'all integrates with the API's of the people that have the encrypted pages.
Paul Dupont 24:15
If it's very rare, yeah. It's needed. But if if we have to do it, and we have to do
Steve Statler 24:24
Yeah, I think, more encrypting on assets, you know, where my assets are, it's kind of sensitive, but it's not really a secret. You're in San Diego airport or the Apple store. You know, the famous first mass deployment of, of Bluetooth beacon technology in a commercial environment was in the Apple stores all across the United States. That's something that we did at Qualcomm. And there was debate about how confidential is it that you're in an Apple Store? It's not very confidential, really.
Paul Dupont 25:00
Yeah, so retail workplace transport those those not particularly confidential where it does get important is in gaming. So casinos they call them book like bookies was the word for? Yeah, if you're
Steve Statler 25:19
on a racecourse, and there's rules about whether you're allowed to bet or not. And you can bet if you're in the race course. But if you're not on the race course, then that's not okay. So so why is encryption important in that case?
Paul Dupont 25:31
Exactly. For that reason, there are some countries with laws that say, you are only allowed to place a bet within a certain area. So a physical, physical space, and casinos, or sports book companies look for ways to provide gaming services through their mobile app. Yeah, of course, that means that they need a way of checking that you're in that facility, if it would be, so we would then provide beacons to say, you know, the blue dot only exists when you're inside this facility, you need a way to make that spoof proof. Because otherwise, you know, there's two things that can happen. One is somebody could physically steal a beacon and take it home. So you need a way to prevent that from happening. And then the other is that they could emulate the beacon at home. So they could take a download UID or whatever. And then and then copy that, and, and then they can fake that that way. So in those cases, you need to you'd need to look at encrypting the beacons. But by and large, it's not not a challenge, not an issue.
Steve Statler 26:43
That's interesting. So, um, so we talked a bit about the technology, let's make sure that people really understand the solution. So there's a blue dot location, there's navigation, which is about having an arrow and, you know, go this way to find the where the shops are in the in the airport, so you can spend money and we can take our percentage. And well, and there's analytics, what sort of analytics are people typically looking at.
Paul Dupont 27:17
And analytics is very sector specific. Okay, interesting. So each, each sector has very particular thing they want to do with location analytics. To give you a couple of examples, airports, my favorite example, is one of our airport clients will. So it's not using Bluetooth, it's actually using Wi Fi positioning, they will see, they will look at the gate where you bought the flights, they will see which devices are around that gate. And then they will look through the record that we have collected throughout the airport to see where that device has been, and how long it spent at each sector of the airport. So what that means is, when that person entered, did they spend more than 20 minutes queuing a check in, but they spend more than 20 minutes in the security. And then as a consequence, did they have no time spending duty free and so you can make a really neat ROI calculation that says if I have one extra person at checkout, there's our check in I can reduce the queue by X minutes per person, which leaves x more minutes in duty free. And then these duty free shops they make a fortune out of out of passengers going through and they measure it in terms of you know, the golden hour concept. So any extra minute of time that you can get a passenger to spend in duty free is tangible dollars in sales. And so by looking at that they can build up a profile to say you know, this flight to Singapore versus this flight to Rio. I know that if I add one person extra check in I can I can generate $20,000 over the course of this month or $240,000 over the course of the year. It's a lot of money. When you when you work it back it really is an impressive ROI. That's airports then in retail it's about footfall it's I mean one of my favorite examples is when it's raining which door do people use to come into the into the into the shopping mall? Do they do they come in through the main car park or do they come in through the metro? And so can I configure the where I put my advertising or my events or my seating or my all that stuff based around that And then of course, if they did go to a particular area like so, if I'm a mall manager and I hire a band to play for an hour, the people who came to that area of the mall, where did they go after that? Did they? Did they just go home? Or did they go to Zara and spend 20 minutes looking at clothes? That's,
Steve Statler 30:25
yeah, that's fascinating. But so in a sense, you're competing against the camera infrastructure, are you not in that sort of case, because I can use my camera infrastructure to look at the flow of people and like, what's information?
Paul Dupont 30:40
Camera infrastructure is, is fantastic. And if the baby, there's two things holding you back with camera infrastructure, the first is cost. It's very expensive. And then the second is data privacy, because you can recognize a face. And so in a lot of places, you're not, strictly speaking, allowed to track an individual as they as they walk around without their prior consent, which you can't really get in many of these environments.
Steve Statler 31:09
But you can if it's an app, then you can ask for their consent. If it's if it's a camera, and then how do you do that? Come on, do it.
Paul Dupont 31:15
That's it. Yeah, of course, the camera is more accurate, you get centimeter accuracy with the camera, and the coverage is also going to be better.
Steve Statler 31:25
So percent, you get every every person can be seen by the camera, or there, maybe you don't have 100% coverage of everywhere in the with the camera, whereas you might arguably I don't know, would be considered interesting. Are you? Yeah.
Paul Dupont 31:39
But again, like many of our clients deployed those solutions. So airports, yeah, have covered camera, sir. Well, I
Steve Statler 31:49
guess the other thing is, potentially if you have an app, then you can get all sorts of demographics, you can start to learn about the customer over time, and how often they've come back and where they went, you know, the which shops, they went into overtime, then how there's all sorts of things that you can do, if you if you haven't integrated into the app, and that app is set up to do
Paul Dupont 32:15
absolutely. That yes, that's, that's a big part of it, understanding, loyalty, understanding of people coming back, and whether they spend their time.
Steve Statler 32:26
So what about this asset tracking thing, you do that as well, because that's almost a completely different use case, isn't it? So it is
Paul Dupont 32:35
the flip sides, where you have a tag, which broadcasts a Bluetooth tag and broadcasts a signal, which is then collected by a gateway, the gateway sends that data to a cloud crunches it and puts a position on top of on top of a on top of an admin dashboard. That's the the main principle. And it's something that we typically do as an add on to our core service around the SDK position. For for example, when we're working with hardware that enables you to do both, so some some of the cooler later bits of Wi Fi hardware will let you do asset tracking and and beaconing at the same time.
Steve Statler 33:24
And so what what are some examples of that.
Paul Dupont 33:28
So there are some lighting, I think, in lighted hardware, we can configure it so that we can do both. It's possible with some, some brands of Wi Fi to configure it. I think it's possible with Cisco as well, but don't hold me to that. To be able to configure them separately. And then, of course, there are some areas where we just have two different sets of infrastructure. So we've got standalone gateway and standalone beacons, and we put them
Steve Statler 34:04
well, you mentioned Cisco, and we've had them on the Mr. Beacon podcast, actually, quite a few times. So I'm just trying to think it's least three times maybe four. And so we looked at DNA spaces, and I was very interested to see that, you know, you and DNA spaces. You have a partnership Cisco have been promoting Pointr, but it seems like they want to make money out of location and you want to make money out of locations. So I'm kind of surprised that you're cooperating rather than competing. And or can be your your Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it the right way. I'm surprised you're operating. You're not complete.
Paul Dupont 34:50
I could understand that. So we were really enjoying the partnership and collaboration that we have with Cisco at the moment. It's proving Super fruitful. And I think I think for for both parties, it revolves around, let's say, two of our core products. The first is the blue dot, the SDK base blue.so. Having a blue dot created in the mobile phone, which is something that, again, a lot of companies have tried but but few have managed to do reliably and consistently without having a hunt like a, an internet connection all the time on the device. And so I think in the past, we probably competed with Cisco on certain opportunities where they would have provided a blue dot. And so it's great to see that over time, it's still it's still a point of view that that that's successful and in delivering a good good positioning. So that's the first area there are many clients that use DNA spaces that already have floor plans integrated into in DNA spaces that we can then pull down and turn into Maps, and then deliver blue dot into into the clients app. So yeah, two things. The first is the blue dot, the second, which uses the beacons inside the Cisco APs. And then the second is mapping. And I think this is where it really gets interesting. So we have our new map scale products that we've been doing lots of promotion of recently. That is around AI, Oh, I hate to use these these sort of buzzwords, but like an AI based mapping solution. And that's, that's where it gets interesting. Cisco has DNS bases has hundreds of millions of square feet of floor space covered with with APS, and they have floor plans, they know where the APs are in the building. And then they have clients who want to get more out of their, their offices or more out of their malls. And that requires accurate up to date maps that can be produced ridiculous scale, ridiculous speeds, and then have a blue dot that they can essentially just turn on. Because we know where all APs are. So we take the floor plans, floor plans, as I'm sure you've seen have loads and loads of junk all over them, they've got patching, they've got text, they've got all kinds of layers and stuff that that you need to get rid of. And MaxScale will essentially remove all of that junk on top of the floor plan in an automated way. So we've trained it, based on your 1000s of CAD files, r&d team, they've done an amazing job of training, map scale to get rid of all the junk that you don't want, and then just leave the walls. We've all the tricky right walls on floor plans often don't actually intersect on a digital warfare or digital floor plan. So having a computer deduce that, that actually these these are a wall that are connected is not a straightforward task. And then tables or pot plants? How do you distinguish that from? From from like a big desk from a little desk, stuff like that. So it's all very, very difficult to do. And when you're talking hundreds of millions of square feet as these guys are. You have to you have to be very smart. So map scale does all that sorry that I'm babbling a bit but mass scale? No, no, it's
Steve Statler 38:44
interesting. So map scales your product. Yeah, that's just to be clear. Yeah, that's a component of your product. Yeah.
Paul Dupont 38:51
Yes, it's our latest mapping product. So we'll take those floor plans for those, you know, 100,000 venue, clients that, that that exist out there, and and then produce nice, pretty 3d maps based on that automatically.
Steve Statler 39:11
Cool. And so why is it that Cisco DNA Spaces has these maps? If I'm sticking access points, I wouldn't have thought I need details of where the plants and the doors are I just kind of best I mean, I'd need very rudimentary information.
Paul Dupont 39:31
That's right. But the information that comes to them will be the original floor plan that's produced by the architect.
Steve Statler 39:42
Interesting course make sense?
Paul Dupont 39:44
So that's what gets uploaded to you. Sometimes you just get PNG, you get all sorts of crazy stuff in the CAD files that you'd have to filter out. It's a very difficult problem. Yeah, I'm very proud of sorry.
Steve Statler 39:59
Well, So I just before we wrap up, I just want to kind of pick your brains about any specific trends. You see in verticals. We've talked a bit about airports, a bit about shopping malls. What about healthcare? What's happening there? Is that what you know what what the first of all, what are the verticals that what? How would you the momentum in different verticals, and specifically healthcare, which is kind of the perennial favorite of our industry? Where does that fit in?
Paul Dupont 40:33
So, at the moment, the real driver for indoor positioning is actually workplace is offices, it's desk booking, it's making sure that everybody on your team can see where the new meeting room is, and more importantly, that they can access it, right. So if you're, if you're booking a big team meeting, and you have somebody, for example, in a wheelchair, you need to make sure that that person also can participate. And that's getting more and more complicated with with hybrid workplaces. So that's where we're seeing a big drive. And so
Steve Statler 41:11
this would be like a big company that has many offices, like we have Qualcomm here. And they name their buildings after letters of the alphabet. And I, there's also a building K, which is actually Karl Strauss. So that's a bit of inside baseball. But they they ran out of letters and slip into double letters, so many buildings, it would be a company like that, presumably where you get invited to a meeting in a nother building, you've never been to it before, even though it's just two miles down the road. And then I mean, are people is that only for companies that have their own app, I don't even know whether Qualcomm has its own app. But
Paul Dupont 41:51
so it is really a new something that we're asking ourselves every day is about who owns the app? Where does the app belong to is it the company is a third. So there are there's a whole ecosystem, it's massive. There are companies who developed their own apps such as Microsoft for, for workplace, I mean, it's unsurprising a big software company, they develop their own app to do that. Whereas the other companies that will buy in an app from CBRE host or company by Siemens or ISS, there's a host of different workplace experience out there. And then they often have different tiers of service that they provide to their clients or, and location is often one of those one of those tiers. So a big client or a big campus, that's where they really see value is like, for example. Yeah, the one you mentioned Qualcomm with many, many different buildings. Yes, it's not a client. But that would be a great example of a place where having a map, being able to do indoor outdoor transition as we do across the campus, or just indoors, all that stuff is really sort of important for them.
Steve Statler 43:10
And have you been hit by in that respect? Have you been hit by the corona virus? People don't need to find the meeting room because the meeting room is the bedroom.
Paul Dupont 43:23
So it's the other way around? So really, the the company's companies are desperate to get people back into into into their offices, because real estate is expensive. And yeah, we were talking earlier, for example, the luxuries that you have in order to to to keep people interested.
Steve Statler 43:49
Oh, yeah, this is before we recorded so just in case any Williard 30 offices, we have a magazine actually, it's the best coffee machine open. And we have beer, beer in the fridge. The yoga studio anyway, I'll stop promoting us go to Williams careers page and you can see how you can get free yoga classes beer and, and sandwiches from the coffee shop. Anyway, thanks away from that commercial break for our sponsor and back to back to you that what you just described as a real eye opener that COVID Actually it's a it's a drive of your business. That's amazing and thought about that.
Paul Dupont 44:35
Where it's for all sectors, I mean airports and retail are also looking to differentiate themselves to as people start to go back into the you know to get back here in London Yeah, I go out and and it's like it's back to normal again, all these places are actually compact and they're they're full competition again. offices, I think maybe a bit less so. But then again, it's even more important because offices are changing. They are meeting rooms, there are more meeting rooms and fewer desks now. So people who knew where their desk used to be, don't necessarily have one anymore. They completely change the layout of offices to match what people want, which is more interactive space.
Steve Statler 45:22
Yeah, and maybe maybe a desk sharing as well, people are trying to optimize, as you said, fewer fewer desks, everyone shares, therefore, you need to know, how can I find that desk? That's, that's free? I guess, I have to say we're seeing that phenomenon that you described retailers. You know, we all went into lockdown, we learn how to use Amazon, even our grannies and mums and dads people who are technophobic before. And so now retailers are having to compete with with the online experience. So they're going to IoT technologies to to do that.
Paul Dupont 45:59
I mean, I'll give you just quickly one amazing example, from a new client from a Latin name in the UAE, which is developing a smart parking system that will analyze where you've been in the shopping mall. It will see which using our technology, it will see which stores you've been to where you went to deduce your preferences. And then, and then when you turn up at the the shopping mall in your car, the LED display will say go to floor three section a park in v 22. So that when you get out of your car, you'll be next to the shops that you want to go to. I think it's awesome. It's such a that's a real kind of future of retail application.
Steve Statler 46:54
That's very good. So we talked about verticals ask you about healthcare, we ended up thinking about retail, which is AI is fascinating to me. So I don't regret that. But I do see business in healthcare or is that not
Paul Dupont 47:07
only healthcare is healthcare is big. So we have one fantastic client in Colorado UC Health. That is a large hospital campus where we deployed in, in their mobile app to provide positioning. And I think maps but maybe not sure, yeah. So we will, so in their their users will navigate. For example, I have an appointment today. So I got a notification through my UC Health app telling me that I need to go to this building this time. So firstly, it will tell me which carpark to go to, in order to your closest your building, then from the car park will do the GPS based navigation to the front door. And the front door will have from the user's point of view, a seamless transition to Bluetooth beacons. There'll be a notification as you turn up, say, welcome to the hospital. Your your doctor is on floor three in room 602. Click here to navigate. So it will take them to the elevator, go up the elevator to get out the elevator and then walk to the doctor's office. So that for I think a lot of patients is pretty important. It's kind of innovation or useful innovation for them. Healthcare is growing right now, especially in the US where healthcare is. It's not like in the UK, when the UK kind of go to the doctor that you have to go to you don't choose your doctor, you don't choose your hospital, you don't choose a surgeon. Whereas in the US these hospitals, they compete on health care centers, health care systems, they compete with one another in order to get your business and a quality app that will allow you to shedule your your appointments to learn about your doctor to learn about your treatment, and then help you on that journey is is a real winner for patients. No real winner. Yeah. And
Steve Statler 49:17
I just getting people in and out and making sure they turn up on time and that sort of thing. Scott have an ROI as well. So I hope that this improves just as a consumer of those services that badly need improvement. Last topic, competition. Of course, Apple Maps, Google Maps do have an indoor offering. How do you compete with that?
Paul Dupont 49:44
This is a this is one of our interview questions when we're interviewing people is is, is how do we how do we compete against the Google offering. So Google won't give you user data They keep it for themselves. If you are a retailer, that's what you're interested in, you're interested in keeping your your user data. And yet, if you are a hospital, you can't share your patients location data with a third party, it has to be owned. And if your workplace your you know, if you're a big bank, you can't have a large tech company, knowing where you are in that building. So where your people are, how long they spend, who's with each other, what are they doing in the meeting rooms, that sort of thing. It's, it's far too invasive. So the data, it's really about data ownership, who owns the data? And there's also a product aspect to it that the so the apple location is based on essentially a fingerprinting solution, which will degrade over time. And the the Google solution, I believe, is also it's I think it's image based, which is okay. But then you've got your camera on all the time, which again, is a bit of a can can be considered by some as an invasion of privacy potentially.
Steve Statler 51:14
And so that makes sense in terms of why as a shopping mall, I want the data so. And there's all sorts of integrations that I want to control. So that makes sense. But what about you're also competing for the consumer, the end user, right? Why would the end user bother to go to the shopping mall to do the navigation versus just use the, the app that they use to get to the mall in the first place?
Paul Dupont 51:46
Well, so those shopping mall apps or airport apps will often have lots of other benefits or features or loyalty. Or, you know, for example, we were talking earlier about getting you to the right car park. And if you go to the UAE or even in the US these car parks are enormous. getting you to the one that then helps you have the best experience. That's, that's, that's really important to a lot of end users. And it'll be the same in it will be the same in like an aviation story, as well as as a workplace story, helping you essentially helping the user save time and giving them plenty of benefits while they're at it.
Steve Statler 52:27
Or yet. So Paul, I was looking at your LinkedIn, resume, as is my want before these things, and you've got an interesting. You've had an interesting path up until working at Poynter, and you've actually been involved in making movies and working in China. And how did you end up getting this job? What's What was your path? What did you study at college? And how did you get to a point?
Paul Dupont 52:57
And yeah, it's been fun. So I did physics, up in synergies. And physics is a great subject because it is Scotland,
Steve Statler 53:05
right? For people that don't know, is that open enough.
Paul Dupont 53:09
And it's a great subject because it opens loads of different doors, into all sorts of different places. And then I went off to do optics in France, at another university, or masters. And then around that time, I discovered I also really loved learning Chinese. And so
Steve Statler 53:32
how do you just happen to discover that you like China, he says, When you're in France,
Paul Dupont 53:40
I suppose it was when I was in Scotland, but I had a bit of time and I saw there was a class and so I just took it up, I enjoyed languages anyway. And and I took up the Annex I I really enjoyed the the cultural aspect of it and the the language aspect of it. Yeah, following that, I, I actually found Chinese probably more interested in physics, and so ended up moving to Taiwan, firstly, and started studying Chinese, which is great. The interview, and I found a fantastic job selling lasers buying them in China and then selling them in the West. And so that's how I got into sales. And then then I expanded I went to China to Shanghai, where I did loads of technical sales for essentially it was a consultancy that does your bizdev in in Asia. And so I took on loads of good projects. One of those was actually working for the SEC for BTC where we were representing them and helping them find opportunities in China. And so I actually worked quite closely with Chuck Saban during that time.
Steve Statler 54:58
So what sort of opportunities is that Bluetooth C looking for in China.
Paul Dupont 55:02
So understanding what the future of Bluetooth looks like all the devices making Bluetooth, good majority of them are manufactured in China. And of course that the C takes has its revenue based on devices being manufactured and making sure that they understand what the future is what factories are producing, what the big companies are producing. So, yeah, it was really interesting. We got to go to loads of large corporates as well as smaller companies to see what they're doing with Bluetooth. So a great introduction to the technology. Yeah, it was great. And then then after that, yeah, I mean, it's not so relevant to Poinr, but at the same time, a friend and I started the company doing VR film production, which was great fun around China. We took drones and strapped VR cameras to them and flew them around. Yeah. And we got a film put into the French company hired us and we got a film put at Cannes, which is awesome. Yeah. And, and then I, via New Zealand, came back to the UK and was looking for a technical sales role in ideally, an IoT because I really enjoyed IoT. I mean, it's an emerging, emerging anymore, but so I'm really interested in
Steve Statler 56:33
growing it's certainly influential. It's impactful, changing our lives.
Paul Dupont 56:38
Yeah, I suppose it's sort of that that point between emerging and everywhere where it is, yeah, it's growing and scaling. And yeah, and in that I got introduced to a Pointr and, and then then went from there. So I've been sort of leading technical sales or a lot of the sales particularly outside the US, but also some in the US for Pointr. It's been it's been fascinating.
Steve Statler 57:08
And what about this movie that you made that went to can you were the producer or
Paul Dupont 57:15
not, so we we shot. So the film was to French directors, who were hired by a junior after the TV channel. So they're hired by athletes to to do to film, they call it fake cities, or they call they call that the real thing that though, it was about fake copies of European cities in China. So we took shots of a fake Paris with a fake Eiffel Tower, a fake London with a fake Ben and tower, tower bridge. And then fake Vienna with gondolas. Sorry, Venice with gondolas, Venice. And, and
Steve Statler 58:08
it's amazing. Most people have no idea that talk about copying and plagiarism intellectual property, stealing old cities is amazing. Eye.
Paul Dupont 58:20
So the focus of the film was on the people who lived in these cities. So if you go to the fake Paris, you've got you've got a fake Sean's Elisa with these enormous buildings. There's a famous music video a DJ called Jamie XX, who did a song called Gosh, and if you look at the video on YouTube, you'll see that city is incredible. And so yeah, they've got they've got the fake Eiffel Tower, the third the height, and they've got all these people who are living there, and they interview them asking them about what what's it like does does living on the shores really impact your the way of life, you know, there's these these ladies sort of hanging their underpants outside the balcony facing out? It's really interesting. And so we, we had some drones, some big drones, and we put a, you know, B, sort of six GoPro unit on the bottom, suspended from the high rod, and then took some really nice shots going through the eye, which which were used in the film.
Steve Statler 59:30
So crazy, and then it's, you know, and it's also it's in virtual reality and regular.
Paul Dupont 59:37
Yeah. I mean, in the VR world, the thing the film was quite a big hit. Won a couple of awards. You know, we only did some shots for it, but it was great fun.
Steve Statler 59:48
Amazing, very good. And so does music kind of intertwine into this interesting life that you've had in in a meaningful way. Is it is it important to you on
Paul Dupont 1:00:00
I mean, I enjoy music. And yeah, I guess I've not played much music since I was a kid really? But yeah, I've always enjoyed going to gigs and things
Steve Statler 1:00:14
then so what what are your three favorite songs and and why?
Paul Dupont 1:00:18
So I thought I thought long and hard about I don't know if I have to be fair, but I thought of three happy songs. Okay, that that. I think whenever I listened to, you know, cheer me up. And I guess the first is a piano man by Billy Joe. He's just this memory of being in the US with my brother, you know, on a very trip.
Steve Statler 1:00:45
I really where'd you go
Paul Dupont 1:00:47
all around California. And, you know, the classic southwest road trip. We went to Burning Man and a few other places. Maybe I shouldn't
Steve Statler 1:00:55
mention I get down to San Diego when
Paul Dupont 1:00:58
I know we didn't make it sound the Death Valley and then north up to Nevada
Steve Statler 1:01:12
so let's Piano Man is number one. Great story behind it. What's number two?
Paul Dupont 1:01:17
And number 10? I suppose I think he mean. So I have a one year old. And we discovered that she loves it when we sing Gangnam Style to her. Every time we sing Gangnam Style, it's always a happy, happy moment. So I'd say that's that's
Steve Statler 1:01:43
yeah, that's a great choice.
Paul Dupont 1:01:47
I suppose Lastly, is another happy memory in Shanghai. When I was I was first starting and I was I was living with I somehow wound up in a flat full of 14 English teachers in downtown Shanghai, just rowdy American English teachers. And, and every evening they had a tradition of singing wagon wheel by Darius Rucker. And so I think, you know, when you get into the spirit of that, that would be the third sort of happy memory. I have a third song that came to me and I was very cool.
Steve Statler 1:02:28
Yeah, very cool. Thanks so much for that. That's wonderful. I have one unusual request for you never asked a guest to do this before. dramatic effect. Could you say something along the lines to all our Chinese viewers and listeners. Thanks very much for for following Mr. Beacon. Please tell your friends and subscribe. In Chinese
Paul Dupont 1:02:57
Sure. Guys here well known Sangha France to the second it might take me a couple of days to get this gacha woman, Mr. Baek can see over the jungle Mr. Beacon difference. Ching Raja Danka. Jack.
Steve Statler 1:03:19
Thank you so much, my brother. That's great. What a great way to end the interview. I want to thank him for his work on production. Jessie Hazelrigg. Producer, I want to thank you for listening. Please do like us. Tell your friends about us. And please join us for the next time we meet