Mister Beacon Episode #163
The Energous Wireless Power RevolutionOctober 10, 2022
Cesar Johnston has a lot to say about the future of the IoT. Capturing wireless energy to power devices has leapt beyond the theoretical. Energous is currently powering Wiliot's IoT Pixels and Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) - an item-level communications revolution using ubiquitous frequencies.
We also get a chance to learn about his career starting off at Bell Labs and some of the leading companies that lead the Wi-Fi evolution.
Receive new Mr. Beacon episodes right in your inbox
Steve Statler 00:00
Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. Last week, we came to you from Israel. This week, we are in Las Vegas, and I bumped into an old partner colleague of mine, Cesar Johnson, who's the CEO of Energous. And it made me realize that we needed to get him on the show Energous are a really interesting company, they've been doing a lot of pioneering work in wireless power. And this is something that people have been looking at for some time, can I power my phone wirelessly recharge it wirelessly. And they've evolved from those sorts of use cases to IoT use cases there, partner of Wiliot, and we're gonna be talking a bit about what we do together. But we'll also be talking more broadly about wireless power, electronic shelf labels and other area that they have specialized on and the evolution of retail, and the infrastructure that's needed to support it post COVID. So enjoy the discussion. The Mr. Beacon podcast is sponsored by Wiliot Intelligence for Everyday Things, powered by IoT pixels. So Cesar, welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast, it's great to have you.
Cesar Johnston 01:17
Oh, thank you very much, Steve, it's a pleasure to be here talking to you.
Steve Statler 01:22
Well, it's kind of weird, where we're both. We're both in Las Vegas. So I'm just going to turn my so this is the view from my room. But unfortunately, I left my recording gear behind, otherwise, you and I would be sitting in the same room, and it would be a little bit more human. But we're back to COVID style interviews. And so anyway, I'm glad we saw each other. And I just, I've been wanting to get you on the show forever. So thanks for joining. You ran a really interesting company, CEO of energist. So I want to talk about what energy is does. And it broadly, I do want to talk in particular about the ESL market that you focus on. And then of course, you and I know each other because energist is works with Willie up partner. And so we have that in common, I kind of want to get your perspective on where we are and what you do in that context as well. So we've got a lot to talk about, maybe we should kick it off, then you can just introduce energist the company and explain a bit about what the company does.
Cesar Johnston 02:33
So definitely, energies is a fabulous semiconductor company focused on the development of technologies that are specific to wireless power networks. And when I say wireless power networks, I'm talking about a radiofrequency base energy transmission that allows you to send a transmit power from transmitters into receivers. From that perspective, we are the company that wants to remove batteries. And the company that wants to remove wires, we see a world where we can deploy our technology, there is similar like we deploy Wi Fi or other communication technologies, and energize rooms. And once you energize energize the rooms, you can have any any type of receiver that basically can work within the operating limits of the power that we provide.
Steve Statler 03:23
I mean, it's a compelling vision, obviously, there's a lot of commonality with Willie up the company where where my day job is, and we'll, we'll get to that later. But this, what you're doing is actually quite different to what were the others, we're not thinking. I mean, you're like charging significant appliances where we're driving these postage stamp sized sensors, what sort of what is the scope of what is possible with this? You know, what I would describe as power transfer, radio power transfer technology, what kind of devices can you power?
Cesar Johnston 03:59
So? That's a very good question. And it can be answered in two ways. So let me answer it from a technology point of view first, from a technology point of view, there's no limit on the amount of power that you can send out, you can send watts of power, kilowatts of power, and getting to look very, very long distances and being able to actually charge large devices, right. But within the constraints of regulations, that might not be actually allowed, right. And you'll have to have a certain level of power that effectively if you want to have humans in the room, you have to constraint that power. So so from that constraint, power of Revelation, what happens is and the reason we exist as a company, is that when we started the company, the revelations did not allow us to send effectively power of the air. All the power that that really sent over the air is constrained to communication networks, to pretty much one watt conducted powder with lots of limitations and overhead, and no basically 100% or high capacity or high duration to recycles. Right? So, so going back to what we do in the company is we, we build now, devices that send the power that are within the certification parameters that we had to actually push forward, because remember, half a meter half a millimeter. And today we're very happy to have no limitations on distance, specifically with our one watt power bridge, which is the one of the main components that we actually interface due to the William tax. And recently, as of a couple of weeks ago, we were able to actually get our certification from the FCC, where we can actually send 15 times more power than we did before, all the way up to 15 Watt conducted power, okay,
Steve Statler 05:58
and did something change that allowed you to break through that one watt ceiling what
Cesar Johnston 06:04
definitely. So so what we did in the company, besides all the patterns that we put together in these technologies, that we are experts, not just in the technology, and being able to build systems and understanding the certification process or not. But we also know what the human body can actually take as far as the the amount of energy that is present without causing any damage, right. And we were able to identify and mix knowledge that we had on the phone on the phone world with the communication world, and come up with a set of parameters that we discussed with the FCC, and ended up on a KDB. But just to summarize this, there's a specific absorption rate level that the human body cannot exceed, which in the US is about 1.6 watts per kilogram mass. So as long as you don't exceed that you don't expose people to that level of power, you'll be you'll be safe. In fact, your phones are around 1.3 1.4. So but the great thing, and at the same time, the bad thing about Rf is that the closer you are to the transmitter, the closer you are to the energy level, but the further you are from the transmitter, because I ref actually goes down look look a written look, I rented me in a logarithmic way, yes, and it goes down in proportion to the square of the distance, the level of power that you end up having when you're sitting on a desk, assuming that your transmitters in the top is really negligible. So that effectively helps. It helps us to deploy this technology in a safe manner and having humans so as long as the human, for instance, in our 10 watt transmitter is within 20 centimeters of the transmitter. There's no damage done based on the measurements and the way that we have actually built our transmitters and our antennas, things like that. So do you. So
Steve Statler 08:06
do you turn down the gain? When if someone's nearby? Or how do you
Cesar Johnston 08:13
know it's all day? It's all on all the time. So we're 50 What is basically approved to be on all the time without the distance limitations. But what the question says is something interesting that if we can do 50 watts with humans inside the room, and go imagine when they go to sleep, and they're just the premises are empty, and we can just jack it up to any level and then charge things even faster. So that's another option that we have not explore with the transmitters that we have today with Willie yet. But you could potentially do that you could deploy let's say, a 15 watt system today, no limit, no distancing mutation in the US and then a night, you can check it after whatever you need. Now, you might complain to me and say, Well, this is gonna be expensive. Yes, it gets expensive, because you have to build a bigger transmitters. But if the company that you're dealing with is willing to pay the cost of that, then sure it makes sense.
Steve Statler 09:11
So what kind of devices can you power in a practical way using the technology that passes those FCC regulations?
Cesar Johnston 09:22
So our focus right now is being Internet of Things devices that are in the in the Milli, milli watt level, one milliwatt, two milli watts or so. But when we talk about power, we have to be careful when we talk about energy, we have to be careful, because you and I probably understand better than most people what I'm talking about, but reality is that we've all been educated to use batteries and the world of batteries. You charge the battery as fast as you can and use the battery as much as you can. And you and I now live in a different world, which is you You just send enough power to turn on the device whenever you need the device. And if you don't need it, you just saved that power. So the world has changed. So now really milli watts might not sound like a lot of power, but in reality is that it has plenty of power to even power, basically wearables. Okay, so So I would say all the way up from micro and macro watts of power to to devices that are word that could be wearables level, 100 milliamps, or cell that could actually charge at three to three milli milli watts. And that be plenty to actually be charged within a 24 hour period as long as you're on there. energized.
Steve Statler 10:41
Okay. So IoT devices is the focus. And in the case of Williard tags, yeah, we have a little capacitor, and we accumulate the energy gradually, and it's like a little bucket filling up with a stream of water, and then we have enough energy in the bucket flips over, and suddenly you have, you've got enough to do some interesting things. So we'll get to Willie in a bit. But I want to talk about electronic shelf labels, how that seems to be one of the applications that is really getting traction, I was over in Italy, on holiday with my wife and son, and I went into all these stores, and they all had ESL, electronic shelf labels everywhere. And what's what do you see happening in that market? And what's your role in that market?
Cesar Johnston 11:34
So as a company, as of a year ago, we have focused on three markets. And we announced our third market about a month and a half ago, our goal is to focus first on RF tax, which is what we deal with we sail as you pointed out, and then sensors, and when we come to sensors, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, co2, air quality sensors, motion sensors, and so on, right. So in the case of ESL, you're correct. I was in Europe recently, was in France, in Germany, and everywhere you walk in there, you'll see hundreds and hundreds of these tags and prices, everywhere, the same thing is going on Asia. So the reality is that this is moving faster in Europe that is moving in the US, as simple as that. So ESL, and being able to display and being able to automate the information that you provide to consumers, and to potential customers is something that's happening, right?
Steve Statler 12:33
Why is it happening? What is it that what's what's wrong with good old fashioned printed labels stuck on a little holder on the shelf is the
Cesar Johnston 12:42
same problem that you have with little labels that that have little papers, instead of with your tax. The number of little tax that you have to put together is so large, and the overhead that you have is so I guess large and the time that it takes is just not effective. And the the number of mistakes that people make is also pretty high. So by automating and having real time dynamic, dynamic process can be developed by which things are more, I guess, up to date, and mistakes will not be made. And of course, if you want to make that with that store dynamic, you can change that tag as as the customer moves around, you move around, and oh, Steve, Steve likes this. Give me 10%. And you'll get the 10%. Right. So the words happy
Steve Statler 13:31
hours, discounts, but but also you get more information, right? You don't you reckon it's not just the price, it's actually information that helps you buy and then that's what merchants are in the business of doing having all the infrastructure to sell more stuff. So it makes sense. So we're seeing so and I hear that America is going to be catching up, it seems like the major retailers are committing to ESL is over here and a bit like the credit cards, you know, over in Europe, they were all tapping for years. And now Now we're doing it but it was such a big country. It just takes time to for infrastructure renovations to happen even though we think of ourselves as being very progressive.
Cesar Johnston 14:15
Yeah, that is true, but it could be also related to tax. What is it that taxation, right? I mean, I remember when I worked in the Dell system, you deploy a new network, it would take 10 years to depreciate. So people here in the USD just wait for the appreciation and then they'll update. I know other countries in Europe and maybe in Asia, they have a different taxation form that allows them to move faster. So that my guess is probably something related to that.
Steve Statler 14:46
Yeah, very interesting. Okay. So, so yeah, sales, we can expect a lot of them. And, you know, how are they what does that market look like? Where are you positioned?
Cesar Johnston 14:58
Sure. You're talking to About a tam of about $76 billion or so. But I think from, from our perspective, which is a fundamental thing of our companies that it always feels good to remove batteries for sustainability purposes. And by removing our F tag batteries, I mean, you have 1000s of those. But as you said, there are also 1000s of those CSL packs everywhere. So being able to remove those batteries and being able to actually make a network that shares the same infrastructure with different components, whether they're sensors, ESL, and so it's pretty interesting to us. So if you talk, if you look at the market itself, we're probably talking about over $280 billion of total addressable market, that we'll be touching, with all the components that we're putting together. And certainly some of those markets will have vertical markets that we need to go and optimize and be able to get partners to help us deploy. But it's a large market just in those four markets with those three applications that I've talked about.
Steve Statler 16:06
And so your devices, they can provide the power that these ear cells need. And I mean, my observation is, a lot of them are these ENT type things where they're not like, it's not like you're having to burn a cathode ray tube that's displaying this thing, it's just enough power to change. And that's right.
Cesar Johnston 16:25
So the world has changed. Basically, what you're saying is the world is changing, right? And the world is changing, because devices have to be lower power. And the way you actually save energy, because we've been wasteful of energy as humans, is to actually design components that do not burn power. So in the case of E Ink, and those displays that we have in some of our ESL displays, they're just basically burned power when they change the image. Otherwise, they just, they just sit there and don't do much. And the words, again, is going to continue to love I mean, your texts are very low power, I expect ESL devices to go low power BLE to go in more low power Wi Fi to go low power. And pretty much everything is going to converge at some point in time. As as there's more functionality, power goes down. And then we deploy more of this networks.
Steve Statler 17:13
And so the role of that energist device, which actually I should have done, if you have one around, maybe I do see failure, that pretty small, heavier, there, we never travel without it. So
Cesar Johnston 17:28
I'm sure you've all got in your in your room there and power, your will your tax.
Steve Statler 17:34
So, but that can be powering the ESL or something like that can be powering it. So yeah,
Cesar Johnston 17:41
so our view, we have a much broader view, I mean, we were looking at RF power, or the transfer of active harvest in energy, as an exercise of the deployment of those power bridges, there is similar to Wi Fi, where you deploy those as needed maybe every 10 meters or 15 meters. And as you do that, you effectively now have energize that room. And energy is common to all sorts of components we pointed out all the way up to wearables, right? So anything that's in that area, where you let's say deployed, the WM attacks, will also be able to be energized with the same transmitters that you have for ESL, and then sensors and so on. So what we are effectively doing is we, we are supporting the deployment of the next generation energy transmission system. And as in the case of Wi Fi, where we ended up deploying large numbers of transmitters and people don't realize today because they just like to use it. But the history is the same, there will be an evolution, you start deploying those and over time, they'll be so predominant that anywhere you go I mean, you will have power on the go the same way you have communications. So that's how we looked at it. It's independent of the receivers. Now once you have that infrastructure will the attacks work flawlessly and and transparently? Yes, sales will work sensors will work. And we're looking at other vertical markets where effectively those receivers will also benefit from it. So now you build a world that is really batteryless in a way.
Steve Statler 19:17
That's great. So you're building an infrastructure, you want a next generation store, you want dynamic pricing, the ability to provide more information, sales information to your electronic shelf labels, but you also want real time continuous inventory you know exactly what's on the shelves. If something's been put in the wrong place, you can do that with Willie up tags. So that's probably a good segue into what you're doing with Willie up would you like to kind of describe a bit I guess either of us could do this, but you're the guests. So I'll let you talk a bit about what you're doing with will
Cesar Johnston 19:52
feel free to add because you are the mastermind and will yet and you know
Steve Statler 19:57
I'm not sure whether that's true, but I am Definitely the talking head, I do more talking about it than most people.
Cesar Johnston 20:03
So so we have a partnership with Willie yet. And certainly there is a way to harvest power from the air. But when it comes to deploying labels, in our opinion that need to be time critical, that need to be there with a certain priority. And also, when it comes to being able to have the right range, to be able to have high coverage, I think that's where energy isn't really worked really well together. Because we, our technology were answered 900 megahertz. And while some of your tags are dual band, and they operate at 2.4, you can easily extend the range of the devices by three to four times. And by adjusting the duty cycle of the power that we send, you can basically play and decide how far how fast or how slow, you want to charge those devices and so on. Right, so So now what we do with you is we effectively deploy what we call today an intelligent wireless power network, or also known by ANSYS active harvesting, as opposed to the fact that we have passive harvesting, where you tried to get power from your Wi Fi devices, and there'll be only devices, right, but it's still with, with energies, what you get on top of that is that when you're working at two and five gigahertz, today, you're working with communication networks that are really capped at one watt. And but using energy technologies, you have one watt transmitters, that will give you that range that will give you more to recycle than what you can get. But now with our latest 15 watt system, you will actually get 15 More times more power than you did before. So you'd have more range, or you'll be able to actually have better coverage, or penetration, and so on. So that's basically how we see each other. And certainly, there's also the communication channel by which we provide the BLE back channel to control all the receivers and gather the information, concentrate the information, and then provide that to your cloud. So we add value to each other. Yes,
Steve Statler 22:16
yeah, we want. So the way I see the energies, powerbridge devices, we call them a bridge. And it's like a stepping stone between the gateway, the gateway could be a Wi Fi access point that's going from the world of Bluetooth to the world of Wi Fi and out to the out to the wide area network. And, you know, we see, like a store where for really, very modest amount of money, you can blanket the entire store with a predictable source of energy. And also your devices are transmitting Bluetooth, to supplement the sub gig, they're calibrating our tags, they're also reading the tags and relaying selectively the interesting information and actually boosting that signal. So you may read a weak signal from a really up tag, and then you'll relay that and boosted at a much with a much stronger signal that could go 50 meters to a Wi Fi access point that's out of line of sight. But I think what those stepping stones your devices do is they also provide points of location. So you know, we can put one of your bridges by in the back room, one in the front display one in the changing room, one in different the different parts of the store. And suddenly, we were establishing zones in the store where you're very cost effective devices are providing energy, but they're also telling us, oh, that skirt that has been tagged has been moved to the back room, it's now on the shelf, it's moved from the shelf, it's now into the changing room. So if someone goes online, and they say, oh, that's the garment I want to buy, the staff aren't running around trying to find where that thing is because of the zones that the energist bridges of.
Cesar Johnston 24:14
And I think that's also the beauty of your labels, right? Because what you have is you have labels that are energized constantly, that take advantage of that fact, as opposed to let's say RFID, right? They're always there. And because they're always there, the latency is pretty low. And as you move around, you effectively know as you pointed out where things are, in the case of other technologies you just cannot do that. So you guys have added now smarts and and call it instantaneous responses to labels that did not exist before and with our bridges. We definitely can keep up on that and as you said point their location, control the output power the transmitters if needed, right and constrained the areas and built if you want to call it my For Sale of energy and data that allows us to find 1000s and 1000s. And as you guys always say, effectively, trillions of these devices. Yes.
Steve Statler 25:11
I mean, so you're a member of our partner program that works. Without program, we obviously worked with many different manufacturers, but the thing I like about energies is, you've done an amazing job on the antenna design. And so basically, the coverage and the orientation of the tags means is less and less significant. So it's kind of makes the deployments a lot easier. And you have excellent range, a lot of power, and, but not too much power. So you know, we can start to, you know, establish these zones in the in the stores and figure out where the inventory is in real time. And I think that's clear. It's a, it's becoming more and more important as retailers, figuring out how to be successful post COVID. It's about letting customers buy anyway, they want, they want to buy online and pick up in store, they want to buy online and have the store essentially being a distribution center for for deliveries into the home, then basically real time inventory becomes essential in that world. If you're gonna have staff that are really making this a pleasant shopping experience, and storytelling and relationship building, they can't be running around trying to find stuff, they need to be focusing on the customer and your infrastructure, and the will your tag tags allow them to do that. So I think that's it's a really valuable combination. One of the things that I think you guys are also very good at is certification, and maybe it comes from your heritage, you've been dealing with, you know, that the highest bar in terms of certification. And
Cesar Johnston 27:05
definitely, I mean, I was gonna mention that, I'm glad you brought it up. I think what's important here is the fact that the product that we're working with, right now, has been certified, not just in the US and Canada, but we have certification in India, because certification in the European Union. And believe it or not China, which is extremely difficult to get, as well as Australia and New Zealand now. So we have really covered more than I would say 90% of there was market right now. And we're going to be working on a couple of Asian countries next. And we should read that we should pretty much have enough information to cover the whole world, which you will not be able to get with any other vendor. And we worked really well together on that. Yes.
Steve Statler 27:54
Let's let's just talk a bit about what's going on in Australia. Because, you know, we were doing a whole bunch of projects, we don't always get to talk about them publicly. But you guys have been making some noise about deployment. So do you want to just say a few words?
Cesar Johnston 28:07
Definitely. I mean, it's you know, both of us have been working with flagship, which is a local company in Australia. And sometimes we do a lot of technical work, and we forget what we're doing. But that was, as I was telling you believe yesterday's, from my perspective, we can really claim that the Australians are ahead of everyone in the world, because they're the first ones to publicly announce, in my opinion, an active power network that has basically power multiple retail stores with 1000s of RFID tags. And I don't know of any other place that has effectively claimed that so far.
Steve Statler 28:45
And we have the flagship guys on the show. And you know, they're providing the systems that allow the Store of the Future to be the software systems for the future. So we announced
Cesar Johnston 28:57
two retail stores, I think one of them is identify by name. And the second one is not really public yet. And I guess it's called Academy brand, which is a retail company in Australia that has multiple, I guess, sites and they're looking at the technology and so far, so good, which makes us very happy.
Steve Statler 29:19
Likewise, likewise, so sees the the this is the second segment of the show where we get into a little bit more about you and you've got an amazing job. You're CEO of NHS, which is a really cool company. I'd love to know a bit about your career and how you know, you've also worked for some other very cool companies. So can you tell? Did you know what you wanted to do when you were in college? Is this what you kind of envisaged for yourself?
Cesar Johnston 29:51
I knew what I wanted to do when I was nine years old, believe it or not.
Steve Statler 29:56
That's amazing. I was trying to very unusual Very young, I
Cesar Johnston 30:00
was trying to figure out if I wanted to be a doctor, medical doctor because my mother wanted me to be a doctor, or whether I should be an engineer because my father was an engineer. And I decided to go for engineering. So that's pretty much what it is. And I wanted to be a high voltage power engineer. Believe it or not, so. So I am an electrical engineer, but I wanted to send and send transmission lines and substations and things like that, which is not what I'm doing right now.
Steve Statler 30:31
You're dealing with power, that's not going to kill someone. That's
Cesar Johnston 30:34
exactly somehow I ended up doing power. But not that high voltage power that I knew off 10,000 volts or 20,000 volts or even more than that.
Steve Statler 30:46
Really go into university and you What did you study in university? Yeah,
Cesar Johnston 30:51
so I attended Polytechnic Institute of New York, which is today, the engineering school at NYU, also known as Brooklyn poly in in New York, second oldest electrical engineering school in the country, right after MIT. So very few people know that. So I went to New York, I wanted to live there, and go to school there. So pretty much
Steve Statler 31:20
where did you grow up?
Cesar Johnston 31:21
I grew up in Lima, Peru. Okay. And my parents sent me there to some relatives, so that I could attend college. And the whole idea was that I would be in the US get educated and go back and work my father, which
Steve Statler 31:39
was your life like improved? Sorry to interrupt you. But what was your life like in Peru is your your dad was an engineer? So you were in a middle class family? I guess?
Cesar Johnston 31:48
Yeah, we come from interesting line of engineers. And we ended up basically in Peru through my grandfather, who was an American engineer also. And I ended up living there for a couple of generations, and going back and forth between Peru in the US. And it was my turn to come back. And the whole idea was to be educated in the US and go back and again, work with my dad. But that never happened. I decided to just continue here and get interested in electronics, believe it or not, back in the 80s, early 80s, during VLSI was really uncommon. And it was not it was a new technology. And you could not find too many books in VLSI, or electronics, and very few of the professors actually knew about it. So I got interested in electronics, and that was my passion. So I ended up in school at Brooklyn poly helping my professor, open an app, the first VLSI lab for the school that is, and it was probably one of the first VLSI labs in the country. And what did the lab do? We actually had a deal with Mentor Graphics, believe it or not, Mentor Graphics was back there with tools. And we were able to get some donations from Mentor Graphics by which we had what's called a polo, then 3000 computers, which were the predecessors to Sun workstations. Right, right, we got the software and my job was to install, then we came up with a set of projects that allow people to design VLSI circuitry, and pretty much put systems and chips together. So that was the idea because the school didn't have a VLSI. Program. By itself. I mean, I actually took the first course in VLSI, with this professor that eventually took me to the into the Bell System. So that's pretty much the story. They're
Steve Statler 33:46
amazing. So how did you get from the lab into industry? So the
Cesar Johnston 33:51
work the way it worked is I was offered a 12 week job at Bell core communications research, which was the, what's called back then to my bells research lab. AT and T Bell Labs ended up being in the long distance labs. So I worked for them my bales for 12 weeks, and they gave me a project on video transmission over fiber optics. And at the time of my job was to design a effectively transmitter that will allow you to send what's called broadband ISDN data and video over fiber optics. And I only had 12 weeks. And I was told that because it was 12 weeks, I didn't have to finish it. So I just worked hard and finished it and that gave me my job.
Steve Statler 34:38
That's fantastic. You know, some people I mean, to me, Bell Labs is like the most amazing institution, but some people may not know about it. Can you just tell us who worked at Bell Labs? What are the technologies that came out of Bell Labs?
Cesar Johnston 34:54
Oh, there's so many technologies. So, Bill Labs is the old reach Search labs that was pretty much established by Alexander Graham Bell, who was effectively the the inventor of the phone. And that was his company. And it was a worldwide company that pretty much own all the telephone network as well as all the research around the world. And then I happened to be at the time when that the last young engineers that actually joined that leftover that had gone through 120 years. And I was kind of I would say, lucky to actually be there, because I saw how it was. But I also saw how it was really taken apart. When he got when I go back and say what it was, I mean, as a young engineer, I could do anything I really wanted to do, within, of course, the parameters of what the lab wanted us to do. And there was no restrictions on engineering knowledge, whether you wanted to do hardware or software systems, semiconductors, you did what you had to do to deliver.
Steve Statler 36:00
But this became the research arm of AT and T right and they work on the transistor and fiber optics and they invented Unix that then became basically the sizes of all of the the operating systems running on your phone.
Cesar Johnston 36:17
That's correct. So the transistor was invented in the Bell System, the telephone switching network was invented and developed system, the cellular phone network was invented in the Bell System. The concept of using queueing theory for networking was used day and night. But by the Bell System, the fiber optic transmission systems and the rings and the sun and rings and was invented that DSL was invented by the Bell System. So a number of technologies because we had pretty much 2% of the revenue of the company went into research, only 2%. And we did all that. Now imagine today, you don't even put 2% and we cannot do much anymore. So I was I was lucky enough to end up in a place that had enough money to do whatever it was needed to do without any limitations, which you don't do anymore in the US and universities don't you cannot even afford to do that anywhere. So I was I was happy and fortunate to see it. And I also saw it going and going away when I was told that it was the time to do software. And the company was going away from hardware.
Steve Statler 37:27
So what happened after Bell? How did you end up leaving,
Cesar Johnston 37:30
so I worked in the Bell System for about eight years, and I worked on broadband is the end. So transmission of multimedia over fiber optics, all the way from 155 megabits per second, which is nothing now. But back then we couldn't even build the children would run it 40 megahertz or 40 megabits per second. So we did 155 And I worked up to two and a half gigabits per second. And then I said to myself, I had enough of these, I have to do something else. So an old friend of mine, who was my boss by the name of Steve Weinstein, who is considered one of the main inventors of OFDM. And you know what OFDM, or throwing frequency multiplexing division multiplexing, which is pretty much on in communication networks, including Wi Fi, had moved to a research lab in Princeton, New Jersey, by the name of NEC research. And I called him up and I told him I was bored, and I wanted to do something different. And he offered me to join NEC and working in wireless. And I had never done wireless before. And they wanted to build a multimedia bass wireless system. So that's how I got involved in wireless and started that in 95. And that eventually ended up interested me in moving into California, because we used to do research for the sake of being great engineers. But back east a lot of the jobs were going away and they were coming to the west coast. So I made the right decision at the right time. So around 1999 and moved to the West Coast. I worked a little bit on DSL was installed up doing DSL, I worked a little bit on CPUs with Arc International. And then I ended up at Broadcom running the Wi Fi team for a number of years. We did some of the first single chip devices 54 G Wi Fi then we did some of the first two by two MIMO and that's now around 2006 or so I moved to Myrtle semiconductors where right where I was for eight years running pretty much all of the connectivity, Wi Fi Bluetooth and so on So, so by then I was a very strong wireless engineer, let's put it that way. But then somehow about eight years ago or so, after I once more I get I get bored I get bored of things as you can tell now I get bored of them. and wireless communications because it's just repetitive. And a lot of people might not agree with me. But I don't see Wi Fi making any progress since MIMO is just being extended the bandwidth extended the rate. And that's easy to do. I mean, mine was a fundamental change and modulation. So I wanted to do something different. And I got a phone call from energies where they actually wanted to do wireless power, they wanted to do wireless RF energy. And then I said to myself, well, I wanted to be a power engineer, I know wireless, why not? So let's see what we can do. So the idea was to merge my research background with my engineering background, and then see if we could do something like that. So that's pretty much what happened. Then I joined energies run engineering, I was the CFO for about three years. And now I'm the CEO for almost a year now. So that pretty much is it.
Steve Statler 40:50
Okay, so if you want to be CEO of a company, again, it is it's as simple as that. That's fast. That's amazing. So how did your dad feel about you not going back to Peru? That must have been tough.
Cesar Johnston 41:06
It was it was tough. But at the same time, it was the right decision at the time, Peru was going through a lot of woods, say guerrilla problems, and they have destroyed pretty much the the country. So it did not make sense for me to go back. So he's feedback to me it was it stayed back home where grandpa's from? And don't come back.
Steve Statler 41:28
Very, very interesting. Yeah. Well, that that was fascinating. Onto the last question of the show, which is about music. And I don't know how big a deal music is for you. But did you manage to think of three songs? Yeah, yeah.
Cesar Johnston 41:45
So So I like a lot of songs. And it's not just one song. But what I ended up with is that there are certain stages in your life, that make a big difference. And for me, since you asked me the right question, which is what did you do after you left Peru? I think that that stage from where I left Peru, and I worked in the east coast in the US, is what really sets who I am, and what I know, and pretty much my behavior and what I do in life. So what I decided to do is come up with three songs that effectively remind me of the 1980s, right, in a way.
Steve Statler 42:25
I love this already. I love it. Okay,
Cesar Johnston 42:28
so first of all, the first song that I came up with was a matter of fact, which is Billy Joel, and Billy Joel was very popular back then is one of the most famous musicians out there. And everyone knows them. So I think a matter of trust is important from from, from the fact that if I, if I hear this song, I still remember when I was 17 1819 years old. And that's when again, by my whole personality started really being focused. And and, and I really went into that engineering direction. The second song, which really brings me back to big memories, has to be basically Frank Sinatra, New York, New York. I mean, I was in the middle of New York. I know a lot of people don't like New York, but a lot of people nowadays love New York. So a lot of New York is like the national anthem of, of New York City. And I think that song is very important. Because if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. And that is true. I mean, I made it there and then trying to make it everywhere. So that's the second thing. So 1980s. And I think the third one is more about life is more is more about what you want to do and what you end up doing in life. And I would say Francie natural, my way, is extremely important. Because at the end, it's all about what you who you were what you did, and certain times you had to do it your way. So I think those three are the important ones that again, they're not the only ones but it really focuses on very, very focused and very fundamental things in my life.
Steve Statler 44:09
Yeah, those are great choices. And my way is such an iconic song. And I was just trying to think I don't think we've ever had that this I think you'll like guess approximately guess 160 something. And I think that's the first time it came up. But it's a great choice, and I enjoyed it. Well sees that you've been very generous. Thanks so much for talking with us. I really, really enjoyed it.
Cesar Johnston 44:31
Like Watson, thank you for inviting me.
Steve Statler 44:35
So that was my conversation with Caesar. I really love these discussions about our guests careers. It's it's always a fascinating story. And seasons is especially tough. That's another show. We really appreciate you watching and listening and if you want to do us a favor, say something about it on social media too. Hello Friend writes all of us on whatever platform that you use that most importantly you see us next time