Mister Beacon Episode #158
The New EPCIS 2.0 StandardAugust 30, 2022
The new GS1 EPCIS 2.0 standard is set to have a dramatic impact on the way we manage supply chains. Its functionality can drastically improve sustainability, trust, and efficiency. We talk to one of the key contributors to the standard, author, CTO, and entrepreneur Dominique Guinard about the “Why, What and How” of a standard that supports visibility of “What, When, Where, Why and How” for products.
We also get the inside scoop on the acquisition by Digimarc of the company he co founded (Evrythng), and a preview of Living Web, the Physical Web reboot that Wiliot may be releasing.
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Steve Statler 00:00
Hello and welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. This week we're going to be talking about a new standard that is going to change supply chains called EPCIS 2.0 comes from GS1 the people that define all of the standards around products in the in the supermarket. And we're going to be talking to the guy who was instrumental in the creation of that standard Dominique Guinard who also helped to author other standards, including digital link. He's an author. He's also a senior executive at digimarc, and was co founder of Evrythng is really smart guy great at explaining things and really enjoyed this conversation with him. We explain what EPCIS is, what the implications are, which are really significant for the world of supply chain and IoT. And we delve into the recent acquisition, Digimarc bought Evrythng, the company that he co founded and was CIO at. And we also give a bit of a preview some insight into a new product that we are evaluating here at Wiliot, which is built around a reboot of the Physical Web. So do listen in and I think you'll enjoy this. The Mr. Beacon podcast is sponsored by Wiliot, Intelligence for Everyday Things powered by IoT pixels. Dominique welcome back to the Mr. Beacon podcast. It's great to have you on.
Dominique Guinard 01:49
Thank you, Steve, it's great to be on. I always learn a lot. One of the joys of this show is, you know, I get to talk to super interesting people. And I learned something every time I do it, especially with you. This is actually the third time you've been on the show. The first time was back in 2018. If people want to go through the Mr. Beacon archives, they can we talked about your book, building the web of things. And then you were back 2020 talking about GS one, again, talking about digital link. So one question I have, and I guess I could answer this question myself, but I'm a bit lazy. So do you still have the things that are referenced in the book that you use in the exercise? Are they still operating? At the everything lab in, in in the East End? I assume that's where they were? Are those? Yeah, actually? That's a very good question. Yeah, unfortunately, not It happened a couple of months ago, some of the components broke down, and we're looking to replace them. But it's pretty hard, because we want to have the exact same components. And things have evolved so quickly that they are hard to find. But I think we've we've managed to spot them, and we're going to get to rebuild it. Excellent. And we should explain what we're talking about. So building the web of things, give a one kind of a one minute intro to what the book is about. But basically, what we're talking about is the devices that you can use using web API's. And you control physical things from, you know, I was sitting in San Diego following these exercises, it was really cool. I was looking at a camera and driving actions and turning lights on remotely. But what was that book about? Well, pretty much what you just said. So it's about using web technologies to build internal things, which I believe is the right way to build the internet of things if we really want to make it massive. Excellent. But we're not here to talk about that. Now we're here to talk primarily about EPCIS two dot O, which I think is a very significant standard. I mean, GS one has some pretty significant standards in its portfolio. But this I think, is really going to enable a lot of very important use cases that will make the supply chains much more efficient, which is essential if we're going to solve climate change and do it in a way that aligns people and planets and profit. I also want to talk to you a bit about the fact that you now work for a different company, but you never quit you. Everything is now part of digimarc so let's let's talk about that but so sound okay, in terms of our agenda, sounds great. Okay. So what is EPCIS? What is EPCs? So, first of all, it stands for electronic product code information service, and the electronic product code. So the EPC standard is, is a standard that basically provides unique identities for items in particular, through RFID technologies, but it can be applied somewhere else And the PCI standard itself is the Information Server that are the information services that you build on top of these unique product identities.
Steve Statler 05:11
But as you say, the identities in EPCs don't have to be RFID. In fact, one of the things that you just sent me like, it's actually very distracting to a few minutes before the show was you showed your company's product, Evrything, integrating with Wiliot's, sensors, and so it seems like it's an open standard from that perspective.
Dominique Guinard 05:38
Yeah, it's definitely an open standard. Absolutely. And, and it's also not a new standard, but the version 2.0 is really a revolution in terms of what what it brings and what it is.
Steve Statler 05:51
Yeah, so let's, let's come back to that, how version two is different to version one, because I think version one, I was always a bit frustrated, I thought this is really useful. But I really couldn't find many people using it, there were people using it, but not as many as you would want. So we can get into why that's changed. But let's, you know, I in this part of the conversation, I do want to look at, you know, what it is, and you know, when it was originally conceived, and how that's changed and where it's being used and why you would use it and how you would use it. And by some amazing coincidence, that seems to be a lot to do with the structure of the standard, as well, this, what, when, where, why, how, so maybe we should kind of go into that. And I hope I made this too complicated by us by overloading the same words and using them for the structure of our conversation and the structure of the standard. But tell us more about EPCIS. And the what, when, where, why and how.
Dominique Guinard 06:59
Yeah, so so the the core goal of EPCs is to capture capture supply chain events in a standard manner. It's as simple as that you have tons of events happening in supply chains. And nowadays, a lot of them are not digitized, which is one of the reasons why supply chains are not that efficient, or resilient to big changes, as we've seen with GAVI and Oregon's. So it's all about capturing the events in a standard way with the aim of interoperability. So really being able to share these events across partners share these events with applications. It's basically a common language for things that can happen in supply chain. Excellent, that's what it is at its core.
Steve Statler 07:45
And so one of the things that got me excited is that in our you know, the work that we're doing, Willie, we're looking to share information much more broadly and a richer set of information. So like sensor information, information about temperature excursions for vaccines, or pork chops, or you know, anything. And, you know, micro location events understanding when shelves are out of stock. And and this. And also, one of the things that became really clear to me was this needs to be shared in the past, a lot of this information was kind of stove piped, and the retailers had it, but they didn't share it either. Because the you know, there was some feeling that this was power that they didn't want to give them the vendors and I think more likely it was just too difficult to share. And so how can the you know, the structure of EPCIS help facilitate sharing the kinds of location and sensing information that I just described?
Dominique Guinard 08:58
Yeah, sensing information, I mean, location was already in the standard early on sensing information is one of the news in EPCs 2.0. So we wanted the standard to support IoT use cases. For me, the wheel of pixels were a source of inspiration. Because they represent one thing that I always thought was going to be a trend, which is that tagged tags are getting closer and closer to embedded devices and vice versa, right. And so the standard is ready to support that by allowing to attach to events, sensing data in a structured and semantically understandable way. So that really fosters interoperability.
Steve Statler 09:40
Okay, so So going back to what when, where, why and how so how do you capture the What What's the link there? I think you touched on it, but I just felt crystallize it
Dominique Guinard 09:52
Yeah. So the what is really the identity which unique identity Did you see and it used to the the PCs standard used to support only one way of describing these identities. And that was using an EPC code. an EPC code is typically something that's stored in RFID tag UHF RFID tags. version two of the standard is actually supporting other ways of identifying items. And one in particular is using digital links, you can see that I've worked hard with the team to make sure that the two standards were basically compatible. And so yes, that means now you can you can address all kinds of things, they don't have to have an EPC, as long as they have something that's usable as the digital link, then you can you can address them.
Steve Statler 10:45
Cool. So that's the what? And then what's the when
Dominique Guinard 10:50
no one is the trivial one, that's just the date timestamp, which is extremely important in supply chain, obviously.
Steve Statler 10:56
Yeah. And so that, let's just expand that a little bit more. So I want to look at the time that a good moved from one place to the other, which can be important if I want to get a picture of, say, some zucchinis, how long they were exposed to certain temperatures in a certain place that would
Dominique Guinard 11:24
exactly tie this, if you tie this with IoT data, it becomes even more even more relevant to the when definitely.
Steve Statler 11:33
And how do you capture the where what can where encompass.
Dominique Guinard 11:37
So where are what what's called in standard business locations. So there, they can be all kinds of places that you define as a company. So it could be a warehouse, it could be a particular production plant. And sometimes they're identified by a via JSON identifiers as well called Gln. Global location numbers. So you can also codify in a unique way, the place that the event is happening in
Steve Statler 12:10
and so can a Gln be, like hierarchical. So I, so I have a place and then I have places within the place.
Dominique Guinard 12:20
Yeah, you can have you can have this type of hierarchies. Yeah.
Steve Statler 12:23
Very good. So why the why that's less obvious in terms of EPCs.
Dominique Guinard 12:30
Yeah, so the why is primarily and I'm oversimplifying here, right? Because the standard is, is is, is a pretty thick document, right? The Y is primarily the business step. So which steps in the business are you in? When you are recording the event? Are you at quality control? Are you transporting the item? Are you recycling the item? And those what's very interesting is that those terms are also standardized. And that's important, because there are so many ways of describing a recycling step or a quality control. So they're also standardized in a companion standard called the CVV. That business vocabulary of terms, basically standardized terms, and you can extend it also, if if your use cases not supported by the CVD, readily.
Steve Statler 13:22
And lastly, how, what's that about?
Dominique Guinard 13:25
Well, so the how is the IoT component? So that's about the context. So temperature, humidity, vibration, line level, anything that you can think about in terms of sensors. And again, there, there's a semantic layer to make sure that if you talk about temperature, typical example, there are so many ways, at least two ways, global ways of describing a temperature and, and so it also contains the units. And and that's, you know, that's all standardized. So you have a pretty specific way of capturing sensor data.
Steve Statler 14:00
So you've already talked a bit about the differences between EPCs one and two. But let's so let's come at this a different way. Why do you think that EPCs one never really took off? To the extent that we hoped it would, and why are you more optimistic about $2?
Dominique Guinard 14:23
And I very much hoped as well, right. It will then I was listening to the Gartner provisions back then in 2000, early 2000, where they said, Yeah, RFID will be present pretty much everywhere by 2020 2019. Something like that didn't really happen. And I think there were two main reasons. One, the standard is fixing the other one, I think, got fixed by other powers like the COVID crisis and the climate, the climate crisis as well. The first one is simply what you mentioned, right? That this is information that comes plays are not necessarily willing to share too much. It's great to have interoperability, but you need to want to share this information and to leverage it across partners. And I think the world we live in, and especially in the last five years or so, have really put a lot of pressure for this data to be shared for many reasons. The other one is just technologically the standard was really painful to work with. And I actually wrote a paper in 2010, where, as I suggested giving, giving RFID arrest. And that paper was one of the sources of inspiration for JSON to launch this, this standard, not the only one, right. But it was basically adapting the standard to web technologies, because it was great in terms of the actual constructs, but the API's were just so outdated and not reflecting the state of the web.
Steve Statler 15:57
So the risk of being obtuse, so giving it a rest, meaning making it accessible via restful API's?
Dominique Guinard 16:05
Exactly, you got it. And it has been my mission, my mission in life to bring all things to the web.
Steve Statler 16:12
And then for anyone that doesn't know what a RESTful API is, what's that?
Dominique Guinard 16:18
That's basically, it's basically an API that is done really the web Way. And today, most API's are built that way are built using restful constructs. But back when the first versions of DPCs standards were written, it wasn't the case, there was another set of standards that was dominating called ws star services or soap services. That was more like Enterprise E integrations which almost entirely died nowadays.
Steve Statler 16:50
And so we're optimistic it's a better standard. The planet is in a stage where there's massive pressure on supply chains, there's war, there's famine, disease. And there's also new use cases like biome online pick up in store and delivery that mean that we just need, and and also environmentally, we're being held to high standards, as well. And there's legislation that is driving carbon accounting, and that sort of thing. Does EPCIS have a role to play in that in the car? And
Dominique Guinard 17:28
absolutely, and I think there's one piece that you're kind of not mentioning explicitly, which I think is important is the consumer push for transparency. I mean, there's a real push from consumers and brands who actually are transparent and provide accurate, detailed information when nowadays, right. And that's super important, because to be able to provide this kind of transparency, traceability information. Without doing like just rolling, broad greenwashing, or kind of totally abstract ways of describing it, you need the data, and to have the data in it, to capture it, and to capture it in a standard way.
Steve Statler 18:07
So that's one
Dominique Guinard 18:09
Steve Statler 18:10
So EPCIS can be a means of tracking the carbon footprint, the actual carbon footprint, rather than the estimated carbon footprint at each stage. Is that fair to say?
Dominique Guinard 18:22
It? Yeah, it can be on its own, though. There's no construct in the BCS standard that will let you just extract the carbon footprint, right. But you know, where the goods have transited and that's, that's very useful. And carbon footprint is one aspect, but it's the whole transparency around how is the item produced? Is it organic cotton? Can you prove it? You know, these kinds of things? I think carbon is one aspect, but there are many more aspects to it. Transparency use case.
Steve Statler 18:54
Makes sense. So how does this compare to EDI? So I was at the GS One Connect show in San Diego just down the road from our offices. In fact, we had a group of folks from from ame and GS one come to visit our offices. We want to have more open houses like that. But I was at the show and there's a lot of EDI players in the EDI, Edi. Sorry at the GS one conference. How does EPCIS compare with EDI?
Dominique Guinard 19:32
So I'm not an EDI specialist, right. I know EDI, but it's not something that I've extensively worked with but the main differences that EDI is really about is really about you know the transactions in the supply chain are usually paper based is to digitize that right when we exchange when you exchange goods with I don't know a gun off, you know, transporting from all warehouse to another place and there's an actual exchange or there's paperwork that's done at the border. This is where EDI can help you. PCI is a lot more granular than EDI because it's really capturing every single step, not just the steps that absolutely require paper, paper trails. So EDI is a replacement for this paper documents. EPCIS is really, we want traceability across the board the entire lifecycle of the item, capturing every single step.
Steve Statler 20:29
So it seems like EPCIS is a great complement to serialization. But can you use it without serialization?
Dominique Guinard 20:39
You couldn't before. And the reality is that while the standard didn't allow that, what we discovered is that most users of the standards were actually also track tracking GTIN level. So class level today it can support it. And as because of the Trojan horse that's in the standard, and that's the digital link, which basically can support sterilized but also non serialized or also partially sterilized as in batch level, for instance. So anything that the digital link supports today can be supported. By EPCs. Having said that, you really unveil the power of UPC is if you use item level, that's really when it becomes the most interesting,
Steve Statler 21:23
where each it's not just I've got a SKU for a certain type of product. I've actually every single product has a digital passport, it's an individual, you can see where it has come from who's owned it, how many times it's been washed in a washing machine, or I'm assuming EPCIS could support that, like I want to record every time I've washed my my jeans or something.
Dominique Guinard 21:50
Yeah, medicine a use case is a use case we're not totally unfamiliar with today.
Steve Statler 21:58
Yes, yeah, you've you've got some great customers that everything including a really great, I'm not saying that these guys are doing this. Quite the contrary. But, but serialization has been adopted by apparel companies, let's say that, and there's some great ones like Ralph Lauren, for instance, that have publicly announced they're using your product and serializing things. So let's see. Okay, we're optimistic. What's, what are the early signs, then I was looking at the standards document and seeing who collaborated. It's always fun seeing the names and the companies that are there, but who what are the Can you name drop a few of the companies that you collaborated with on the standard and and then, you know, maybe this is doesn't necessarily mean they're introducing products based on on that, but I'm interested in who you've been working with on it.
Dominique Guinard 23:00
Yeah, so the, the working group had quite a few members. You know, the usual suspects working on on GS one standards, but also more than this. So in terms of the usual suspects, you have the big players out there as the Nestle, the PNG, Pepsi, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, and so on.
Steve Statler 23:22
I think Johnson and Johnson as well as Johnson
Dominique Guinard 23:24
and Johnson, yeah. And then the retailer's, Walmart's and others European retailers?
Steve Statler 23:32
And, yeah, I had the advantage of knowing that I was gonna ask you that. So I kind of just jotted down h&m and his car for
Dominique Guinard 23:43
sure. I believe so. Yeah.
Steve Statler 23:44
Yeah. And then you have vendors as well. So you know, what, how are things looking in terms of vendor support? So everything supports EPCIS. Now? Oh,
Dominique Guinard 23:57
yes. We were supporting it very early on. Yeah, it's not it's not the core of our model is not necessarily PCs, but we support EPCs inbound and outbound. That's the idea. Right? Right. We add to the standard we and more because we need it for things like authentication and so on. But we support inbound and outbound
Steve Statler 24:19
and other vendors that you want to reference to people like choice.
Dominique Guinard 24:25
Why? Yeah, you have you have lots of big core vendors. You know, the IBM the sap out there. And then you have specialized companies that are basically that have dedicated their entire workforce on EPCIS. And then you have companies of the size of digimarc, everything. You have a few others like Axway and so on.
Steve Statler 24:51
So it's looking good. People want if you're going to have adoption, then people need choices, otherwise they get a little skewed Tish so anything else we should talk about? I want to talk about digimarc. And what life is like now that that, but anything more that we need to talk about with EPCIS. Before we
Dominique Guinard 25:14
well, maybe in terms of traction and the early market science, I'm also very, very enthusiastic because yeah, there were other people in this working group than the usual suspects. There were a number of startups there were also a number of blockchain related companies, which is new. And it makes sense because a lot of the blockchain use cases beyond cryptocurrencies is about supply chain traceability. And so there are also a number of blockchains out there like origin trail Iota, that know also support EPCIS data. And it's great because they need that right, they needed a kind of a, a common language, because these blockchains are fairly incompatible with one another. So having a higher level language was really useful for them. So that was one great thing. And the other great thing is just the feedback, the amount of feedback we got, like a year ago, I was announcing in another podcast that the standard was going to come out, it took a year. And the reason it took a year from that time to now is community feedback, we had an overwhelming amount of feedback from the community, something that I had never seen on a standard before. And so we need to process all of that. But it clearly shows there's interest, and that the time is ripe for a traceability data standard.
Steve Statler 26:32
Yeah. Do you want to name drop that podcast? Because I actually started subscribing to this morning after listening to your interview?
Dominique Guinard 26:42
Yeah, that's good. Getting API's to work? Yeah, it was one of one of my favorite podcasts, it would be after your Stoke, which I always listen to. And I'm being honest here, not just because, I mean,
Steve Statler 26:55
well, that means more to me than I can say, I'm going to start getting emotional now. So but that's, yeah, it's very cool. So worthwhile catching that, and you go through this, if people want to kind of have another drink at this to absorb what EPCIS is, then I recommend those those podcasts, as well. Just say a bit more about blockchain. So the architecture of how you would integrate EPCIS with Blockchain, because a lot of people might think that, Oh, these are two different things.
Dominique Guinard 27:34
Yeah, and to a large extent, they are like one thing that I wouldn't advise anyone to do is just to push every single event in a atomic format that comes from the supply chain to a blockchain, right that for many reasons, that wouldn't scale. And depending on the blockchain, that could also not be a good idea from a sustainability standpoint. But also from a cost standpoint, knowing like blockchain fees and so on. They're not all blockchains are equal there. You also have private blockchain consortium days where he can afford pushing the actual raw events. But there's a real there's a real trend towards routing some of the supply chain data onto the blockchain so that you can, you can basically prove that the data wasn't tampered with that it was recorded by the by the people who said they were recording it using digital signatures, like verifiable credentials and tools like this. So essentially, it can add a trust layer on top of an EPCIS scenario. And that's pretty exciting, actually.
Steve Statler 28:40
And I know you've done a little bit of work with, with our technology. Everything was one of our first platform partners. We both have platforms, but they were integrated. And I know you've been doing some kind of some early work on integrating EPCIS as supported by everything with Williard. How can you just overview what that would look like how it would work?
Dominique Guinard 29:10
I mean, this was super smooth, because like, if you want a tag that can illustrate the IoT functions of EPCIS. I don't think there's a better tag and we'll attack right. I mean, the will of pixels are exactly the kind of tags we had in mind when we were designing that part of the standard. So it's a lightweight tag yet. It's something that can record environmental contextual data. So we just, we just made the to platform Stoke, and we receive the message in the Willert formats, and we convert them to EPCIS. And then we use that to drive things like inventory, temperature check. And so yes, great. It was very straightforward, actually. Very cool. Also, the tech has evolved quite a bit like I had the chance to test both versions. I'd say it's just very impressive how far you've come, I never lost hope. I'm not disappointed.
Steve Statler 30:07
Now I'm, we're really happy with version two, it's, I mean, there's future versions coming down, that are going to be even better. But you kind of, I mean, you look at, if I compare it to Windows, like Windows one, unusable Windows two, terrible Windows three, this is you can use this, there's room for improvement, the windows 95, the whole thing just exploded. And I, I'm not going to say whether there were windows 95, or Windows three, but you can definitely deploy, I would say hundreds of millions of these tags and have profound changes to your business. But you know, we're there's also some major improvements coming. Actually, the other thing that I wanted to ask you about, I wanted to ask your opinion about something, which is, was put this in the realm of preview market testing, this is a surprise for you. So feel free to not comment. But you know, I've always been passionate about physical web. We had Scott, who was the author of Physical Web on one of our early podcasts when he was working at Google. And one of the things that we're starting to experiment with now, Willie are is essentially a reboot of Physical Web, we're not quite sure what to call it, we were thinking, trusted Physical Web is because there's a level of encryption and a new approach to classification and, and kind of making sure that you don't get some of the content there that basically killed the original Physical Web. But we're also thinking of calling it living Web. Because, you know, if you have a URL that's being broadcast from everything around you, then it's about life, and it brings things to life and allows you to interact. And so you know, our idea is, we have a few restrictions, you know, our core product, these guys are on a mission. So we can't change the core product, our core product broadcasts and encrypted IDs. So what we're considering building is kind of a proxy layer that map's Willie IDs to URLs. So it could be a digital Link could be something that your nephew, knocks up on on a, you know, on a webpage. And the idea is we open this up to any browser that wants to include it. But we'll, we'll have a reference open source browser that people can play with. And then you go to the zoo, and you have a URL being broadcast from each of the exhibits, you go to the airport, and you can order things from your seats, and then go to the concession and pick it up, you're stuck in a queue waiting to order beer at the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at Petco Park, something that I was doing last week, then you can click on that link order and then you know, just pick it up. So there's a ton of things that you could do. And, you know, rather than having Google ranking at the heart of this, which sounded like a good idea to me when I first heard it, but didn't work well, because it's kind of non deterministic as a publisher, are people going to see my link, maybe they will, maybe they won't, and then you can get like, really not very nice content that comes through and pollutes the experience. And so we were thinking of using more of the the App Store model where it's classified, and you can subscribe to if you suddenly want to see all the URLs from furniture, you can. But if you then you know, just want to see things from restaurants, you can do that. And if you want adult content, you can do that. But by default, you wouldn't. And so that kind of approach where there's some automation and some approval, and basically we'd give the tags away, and just charge $1 a month for one of these things. And then eventually less if you start putting URLs on strawberries, you don't want to be paying that. But let's just to kind of get it started. So I wanted your reaction advice, feedback. What do you think?
Dominique Guinard 34:22
I mean, that's super exciting. I've always been a, you know, a big fan of the Physical Web. But yeah, as you said, it was probably killed in the egg by just turning that into a spanning tool. And that was very sad, because it could have been really, really a great tool. But again, back to one thing we're talking about is you know, we got to make this right, we got to make it work, right. We're going to help we're going to make it help people and not spam them. Absolutely. So I think yeah, we need better filtering. You need to be able to proactively say what you're interested in. And we need some governance around that to make sure it's, it's somehow checked. But yeah, we'd be all in for reviving the Physical Web, I was actually quite sad to see it disappear.
Steve Statler 35:15
At the definitely. I mean, I used it myself, San Diego airport, we put the Physical Web tags on signage. And we actually did an ABC test. We had QR codes, we had URLs, short form URLs, we had NFC tags. And we had physical Web. beacons, they were from phi from the beacon folks, and they didn't cost a lot. It's like 20 bucks or something like that. You stick it on there. And, you know, it's very new technology. But it was amazingly successful order of magnitude better results. If you added up all of the click throughs. We got from URLs, from QR codes, and from people getting up with that out of their seats and tapping the sign, add all that out, multiplied by 10. That was the conversion rate and the visits that we got to the good traveler website, which is a carbon offsetting scheme, which is kind of hard to get people to visit that website. But it was great. So that convinced me this works. And then I was like traveling in Australia and seeing Physical Web broadcasts from the post office. Kiosks. I was in Italy saw a physical web on tourists signs, London buses, were using it for the schedule, and even in Broadway. Yeah. So anyway, yeah, there
Dominique Guinard 36:37
were some great use cases, unfortunately, is the other use cases that killed it, right. But there are some great use cases. And
Steve Statler 36:46
we'll have to talk about it more offline. I'd love to get your advice and input about how we can get that classification and have some kind of it's tricky. How do you how do you want to avoid? You want to have the right governance around making sure that it's streamlined and so forth? Okay, so I guess that was a little bit of a surprise preview. It wasn't expected to gather that good one. Tell us a bit about digimarcon Everything. And you know why? Why did you do it? And you were one of the cofounders of of everything? And why did you mark decide that they wanted to do it?
Dominique Guinard 37:24
Yeah, we have been running everything for about 10 years, a bit more than 10 years, actually. And we need a step change. I think we we had a, you know, we always had a pretty good product, pretty good cutting edge tech, but we needed more market reach. And and so we were looking at basically getting acquired or merging with a with a bigger entity. And as digimarc offered to acquire us this was great because they had been a partner for many years before. So we were actually working with digital watermarks from digimarc. For many years, we were bringing them to the web and bring them to our customers. So it was a it was a pretty easy. It was a pretty easy integration. At least at least on paper, then, of course, it's always challenging. But the two teams were really, really aligned in terms of the vision, and they had the they had the tech side, we had more of the softer side. So it made absolute sense, and has been a great journey actually.
Steve Statler 38:29
Yeah, I've loved that technology. We've had them on the on the podcast a while back. And I actually, decades ago, even considered joining the company. I think I got into wireless instead. So worked out but I love what they were doing. And they essentially they can hide a they can hide data and fingerprints in an image and you can't even see it but your your phone can so it's a great way of having a serious it's another carrier so be totally make sense. And so the plan in terms of the future, how does it change your plans? I see the everything website is still there. Is it still going to how do you plan to run the the two companies?
Dominique Guinard 39:20
Yeah, this will appear right? I mean, the the integration is still pretty fresh. Happened beginning of 2022. So you know, and it takes a long time. So it's I don't know whether the everything brand will disappear? Probably not. But in terms of websites, we will merge them. In terms of product I don't expect many changes. Part of what we also want as a as a common company now is to support as many tagging technologies as possible, whereas digimarc had a strong focus on watermarking. Part of the acquisition is also about ensuring that we can tap into as many tagging technologies so that we can cover as many consumer products as possible. And I find that quite exciting, because that's one of the things everything is bringing to the table, the integration with wheels or any other tagging technology that's out there, we always wanted to be agnostic of tagging tech.
Steve Statler 40:19
Pretty good. Well, that's, I love what both companies are doing. And if you can be better together than that's, that's great, from my perspective. So Dom, this is the part of the show where we talk a bit more informally, not that the first part of the show was particularly form. But you mentioned that you just moved you're, you're still in Switzerland, I assume I
Dominique Guinard 40:43
yeah, I'm still based in Switzerland. But I move closer to the mountains, which is one of the things I really love in life is being close to mountains and climbing them. So yeah. makes me really happy to be around here. And you know, nowadays, you can do that because you work remotely. So it doesn't really matter where you work from.
Steve Statler 41:02
Yeah, I was interested in how do you manage your career where, you know, the first time we spoke was it we were in the East End of London and a very cool kind of office there, which I'm assuming is still there. And now you're part of Digi mark. And so they're up in? As far as I remember, just outside of Portland, Oregon. How do you manage this kind of multilocation thing? Is it? Is it a stress or is it a bonus for you?
Dominique Guinard 41:33
Well, I mean, that was the reality almost through my entire career, I think, except for the early years of my career, I had to deal with different timezone, sometimes very different time zones, like now between Europe and Portland, you just get used to it, you know, you adapt you change your change your day. sheduled Yeah, just start a bit later and work a little bit later.
Steve Statler 41:57
But you are you traveling a lot,
Dominique Guinard 42:00
much less than I used to like, Yeah, I think early on in my career, I was traveling almost every week, but that that isn't the norm anymore. And I'm pretty happy about that. To be honest, I think we've become a lot more efficient. And the digital technologies have improved so much the video conferencing tools, and I think it's, it's, it's a better work environment than it used to, I'd say,
Steve Statler 42:25
and you got your doctorate, it seemed like part of the time you were at MIT, is that correct? So you were straddling Switzerland and and the East Coast of the United States?
Dominique Guinard 42:39
Yeah. Yeah, I was. I, I was actually doing my PhD at ETH, and then a postdoc at the auto ID labs at MIT, which is a great experience, actually. Yeah, that's
Steve Statler 42:51
like one of the makers for, exactly, isn't it? Yeah, on a pilgrimage
Dominique Guinard 42:58
is also not too bad in terms of it's also one of the auto ID labs. So I had the chance to be two of the best auto ID labs out there and say, Yeah,
Steve Statler 43:08
so when you say it's an auto ID lab, it's part of the MIT organization, or it's a different auto ID No,
Dominique Guinard 43:15
actually, auto ID labs are international. And they were founded by MIT and ETH Zurich, and then a few other universities joined. So it's not like we know, of course, the MIT one is the most well known, but there are there are quite a few other auto ID labs out there. And they are part of a network.
Steve Statler 43:34
Oh, that's so what does that mean to join the network? Because I was actually talking to someone who runs a lab that could be called an auto ID lab. And he was like, thinking about the name and I'm like, You should call yourself was your ideal. And he's like, Well, it was already one of those, but it's already many. So if this other lab wanted to join, what would they have to do? Do they is there like a secret handshake or what's
Dominique Guinard 44:00
Yeah, I guess they'll have to contact one of their main labs and become part of the family.
Steve Statler 44:05
Interesting. Okay. Well, constantly learning. And so what was it like? Because you did part of your education at Lancaster University that will outcome that
Dominique Guinard 44:21
yeah, how come? I did, I ended up north of England with the probably the heaviest rainfalls in the world. Yeah, I loved it there. I really loved Lancaster was you know, again, close to Lake District. So I was able to climb some mountains that are totally new clients compared to the Alps. So I love that and also, more in terms of more professional carrier was Lancaster University is pretty well known in a space called ubiquitous computing, which is pretty close to auto ID technologies as well. There are a couple of very well known professors there so it was great to be able to do part of my master's there yeah.
Steve Statler 45:01
So what is ubiquitous computing?
Dominique Guinard 45:04
ubiquitous computing is probably the, you know, how we called IoT before IoT was this thing, right? So it's about, it's about computer waving into the fabric of everyday objects. As Mark visor used to say he was one of the founders of the ubiquitous computing trend. And, yeah, it's basically about computers everywhere. Looking at computers beyond the places where we know we have computers, like desktops and laptops and phones. So it's really looking at computers everywhere from RFID. To embedded to Yeah, typically, the kind of things will have develops as well could be tagged as vigorous. Yeah,
Steve Statler 45:47
maybe we should be using that as a descriptor, as we kind of search around for, for things to kind of articulate this massive change from where we are, which is already pretty amazing, all the things that are connected to the internet, but I don't know, if you had to guess, what proportion of things do you think are connected to the internet, if you had to come up with a percentage, because I talked about this in terms of what I see as a sea change that's about to happen. And you know, my opinion, you quickly kind of get some numbers in your head, because you look at the number of things that are connected today, and obviously phones. So there's, there's, you know, one or 2 billion of those. And then you have RFID, which I would claim is sort of connected, but generally, you know, most RFID is intermittently connected, it's really kind of a snapshot. And then you've got things like the LoRaWAN stuff, that's the gas meters and so forth. So I'm really interested in if I was to come up with, if you were to come up with a percentage, what would you say? The proportion of things, given that there's all these other things like pallets of strawberries, and vials of vaccine and passports and all these other things that could quite reasonably be connected and benefit the human race in terms of reducing counterfeits and theft and wastage, and all of these things that are killing us. So what's the percentage? Dominant gurnard?
Dominique Guinard 47:35
The percentage is tiny. Less than 1%? Yeah, definitely. Let's
Steve Statler 47:41
get us first. Because that's what I've been saying. And I'm like, wow, yeah.
Dominique Guinard 47:47
Connect trillions of things. And we're, we're so far from that today.
Steve Statler 47:51
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we think the internet has changed a lot. But what's it gonna be like when, you know, when if you flip it, the I don't know whether we'll ever get to 99% of things are connected. But if you look at everything that is of significance, and I really think it's hard for us to imagine human beings, the best we get is science fiction, isn't it? That gives us kind of a sense of what things are going to be like, it's you have to become like child light, to really envisage. If you get serious, then, you know, you get shut down. You can't even envisage what it's going to be like.
Dominique Guinard 48:26
That's right. But back to one of the principles of ubiquitous computing, I think it's very important that this is done in the right way. There is a principle called current technology is the idea that these technologies should not get in our way they should really be serving us and helping us and you know, it shouldn't be clumsy. It shouldn't disconnect. It shouldn't be, you shouldn't be debugging your whatever pack of strawberry or whatever PGI Tam, you you, you have fully connected and that's very important. And that's our responsibility to make this technology calm, and seamless. And and it needs to work super well. Well, hopefully,
Steve Statler 49:03
in our time machine, we did a really good job on in the EPCs conversation and that helped that so I have a couple of other questions to ask you. How did you get your Wikipedia page? Was that like a fan? Someone who read your research and said This guy needs to have a Wikipedia page? Or did you ask a friend to do it or because you know I research people that come on the podcast and you have the one of the best web presences have any of the guests that have been on because you've got the website, you've got your Wikipedia page and your LinkedIn page, which is normally like one of the first things is like way down on on on the screen.
Dominique Guinard 49:46
Yeah, I don't know about the Wikipedia page. I don't know if I really deserve one but it it actually happened when I start a sort of kicked off with other researchers, the web of things community and the web of thing is research field. And there were a couple of students doing their master's thesis or major casualties, I don't remember. And they said, we'd like to create a wiki pet Wikipedia page for you first. The I think the first version they did is in French law. Actually, if you look at the French version, it has a lot more details. And then I wrote a couple of books. And the editor said, Well, you know, it's actually pretty good though Wikipedia page. So then we kept it and
Steve Statler 50:31
cool. And yeah, it makes sense. And then, of course, the last question I have to ask you is about music. And I think I sprung this on you at the last minute, and we haven't really talked about it. So maybe you haven't given it any thought, but I'm just looking to see what you chose. And I can't see it in my notes, but I remember one of the songs was Kraftwerk. Do you remember what the other songs were that you that you chose back then? Yeah. Across the Universe? The Beatles? Yeah.
Dominique Guinard 51:02
Steve Statler 51:03
Girl in the robot. By rocks? Yes.
Dominique Guinard 51:08
Yeah. Yeah. I thought it was gonna I thought I was going to be allowed to choose three more. So it's looking
Steve Statler 51:15
Yeah, no, you're allowed to choose three more. It's the bonus of coming on. So what what are your?
Dominique Guinard 51:22
Well, I'm still I still have an edge for electronic music. So this time, I went for three electronic songs. One of them would be touch from Daft Punk. Ah, I was a big fan of Daft Punk when they actually decided to separate in 2021. It was a drama for me, especially because I never managed to see them live. And I always wanted to, but the tickets sold out so quickly. It was just impossible to get access. So yeah, and that's a song that's not super well known from them. But I really like it. It's just
Steve Statler 51:53
I was listening to it. Less than a week ago, I was putting my new turntable through its paces. And it sounds amazing. I'm fine. There you
Dominique Guinard 52:03
go. And the second one will be sky and sand by Paul Kalkbrenner. It's just one of my favorite electronic songs ever just feels good. I love listening to it.
Steve Statler 52:15
Excellent. I'm going to check it out.
Dominique Guinard 52:16
And the last one would be because I think you'll I think in the beginning you were asking what songs would you take if you were on a journey? That's right. So I was thinking I need a classic as well. So it would be children from Robert miles that would remind me of my childhood. And that's probably one of the songs that got me into electronic music.
Steve Statler 52:37
Very cool. early on. Yeah. Well, thanks for that selection. And I'm pleased that you, you should really get another three because this is your third time on but we don't have time for that. Dominic, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Dominique Guinard 52:54
No problem was great. Thank you.
Steve Statler 52:57
So that was Dominic, someone who I really admire. He's a great person to work with. And, you know, I think is an example of visionary. Do check out the other podcast interviews we had with him on digital link. And on the book that he wrote that helps explain how web technologies can be used with IoT. It's very practical, very accessible. And please let other folks know that you are listening to this podcast and that they might find it helpful or useful. If that's what you think you do you stay to the end. So I'm guessing that's the case. So thanks for doing that. Thanks for watching most and listening most of all, be safe. See you next time.