Mister Beacon Episode #126
UWB BlueCats Social Distancing Real World Trial ResultsMarch 09, 2021
For the first time on the Mr. Beacon Podcast, we have put the rubber to the road and experimented with a solution internally before sitting down for the interview. This week, we are happy to welcome Nathan Dunn, CEO of BlueCats, back on the podcast to discuss the experience of deploying their contact tracing solution in our local Wiliot office. The BlueCats solution is both preventative and reactive in nature, by warning users to keep a safe distance while providing a tracing system to warn users of possible past exposure.
Nathan calls the solution a ‘physical insurance policy’, enabling employees to feel more comfortable coming back into the work environment.
Hear how our tests worked out and what Nathan’s latest observations are on the evolution and intersection of UWB & BLE.
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The Mr. beacon podcast is sponsored by Wiliot, scaling IoT with battery-free Bluetooth.
Steve Statler 00:16
Welcome to the Mr. beacon podcast. wonderful to have you back. We've all been going through something that's united, I guess, I guess with this COVID locked down. And that context is really informing this episode. So I'm really pleased to have Nathan Dunn, CEO of BlueCats, blue cats back on the podcast for the third time. Nathan, welcome back. Thanks. Thanks for having me. And we're going to be talking about contact tracing, ultra wideband, and Bluetooth. And we've done something that has never ever been done on this show before. And it was your idea. So I really appreciate your your suggestion, a lot of the time were kind of spitballing and probing into theoretical analysis of solutions. But you suggested that rather than talking theoretically, about your ultra wideband contact tracing solution that I actually tried out. And so I was really delighted to get a medium sized cardboard box, which had everything I needed to implement a contact tracing solution for our modest size field office here in in San Diego. So great idea
Nathan Dunn 01:44
that was there was probably empty at the time, it didn't have anyone to contact tries, but you get the point.
Steve Statler 01:50
Well, actually it did. It did, you know were like everyone, you have to find a way of continuing and we've tried to have like serialized access to the office, and it just doesn't work, there's too much to be done. We've got maybe a dozen people. And I wasn't expecting to have to, to actually use it for real, but we did. And I have to say it worked great. And it's the first time I've actually played with ultra wideband. Myself, and we'll throw some images up in, in post of what the solution that the these tags look like, unless you've got one on you might minor or all actually in the office. So you'll see it
Nathan Dunn 02:41
I've got another one here. So I've just bought it, bought it within range. And so that's, that's flashing and vibrating and carrying on. So that's that's to alert you that you're too close, basically. So here we are.
Steve Statler 02:55
And it was the simplicity that I loved. So basically, everyone gets to wear one of those, when they come in the office, they tap their h ID ID card on a kiosk with a tablet. So they can then automatically associate who they are with which of those devices they're wearing. And even if you didn't do that, you can just put one on your belt. And it reminds you in a very reliable way, if you're too close to some, it's really as simple as that. And, you know, my experience was that it was forgiving enough that if you were walking past someone in the corridor that you didn't get an annoying beep. But it was precise enough that if you more than 510 seconds, sort of in its stationary close to close to someone that it would, it would start making that noise. And that was enough to just remind people that they need to back off a little bit and stay at a safe distance apart. So you know, we talk a lot about how precise ultra wideband is. And there's obviously many applications for it. But this seems like an ideal application and what I appreciated about it because like everyone running in a time deficit, it was very quick to set up. So you just basically plug in this space station that talks to everything and connect the kiosk to the Wi Fi and then plug the charger in that keeps those devices charged up with two uses and it was all off again. And so it took me I think about an hour to commission the whole thing. So congratulations. How's business design? Yeah. Look, it's
Nathan Dunn 04:58
it's It's good. It's been a obviously, it's it's been a very interesting time. And this is the last product that I thought, the next time I'm on, I was on your show that we'd be talking about. And, you know, the the simple proposition with what we've created is tech, I think technology can play a huge role in allowing people to get back to work or get back together. Because there's, there's two aspects to this solution. One is, as you've seen, as you've described, the the real time enforcement of social distancing. And so it's just that gentle reminder how you're too close. And, you know, in, in an office, in a work environment, in certainly in a construction environment, you until you're wearing something like this, you don't really appreciate how close you're actually getting to people. And so, so it was very important that yes, it was it was simple to set up. And, you know, there was that, that that live feedback. But But the other important aspect of it is that association of the tag to an individual, which can be completely anonymous. So, you know, the version that you received was a chaos with an HR D card reader. Within within our platform, we associate the ID of whatever whatever card was tapped with the tag that was taken. And so there's no personal information on our side of it. And the way that's important is that, you know, if you're looking at as it relates to contact tracing for COVID, now, it's probably a 14 day window that in a district, we go back, and then it's ranges of different definitions of a contact event. I think the consistent one, globally is sub 1.5 meters or six feet, give or take, for 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week. And so it, it's very important to have that association with something that you can link back to an individual and the tag, because they may have want a different tag every day, during that 14 day period. So there's a lot of solutions that were kicked out the door very, very quickly in COVID, your web solutions that will give you that ranging, but you don't have that association aspect of it. And so we provide the opportunity to if you're querying a particular individual, we're reporting on that individual. And the contact events, regardless of how many tags were involved on either side of that, that transaction. And the, you know, the the ease of the setup really gets back to, you know, this solution is tagged to tag. And so there's no reference to where are you in the physical space, or where did that occur? Now, that's, that's possible with further iterations of fixed tags, we can get onto that architecture later on. But you know, the concept is very, very simple. You know, the tag, there we go, it's just just gone off again, and it's another tag over here. There, the age tag will log, when another tag comes within range, and how long that contact event lasted, we can store 100,000 of those contact events locally on each tag, and then via Bluetooth via our gateway, which is that's the spaceship I think you're referring to. Any tag that comes within 100 meters, that by Bluetooth, will receive a command to upload any events that that are stored. So so the ability to to accommodate that that automated logging of those events. Think about vast sites where you don't need coverage at all times, you're just covering, maybe, maybe the choke points. And so a tag can go about its business, record any events and then upload, and then it's it sits within our cloud platform. And if no one tests positive, no one has to log in, and no one has to know. But if you do, within a minute, you know, every single individual who was less than 1.5 meters of someone. And so the the operational benefit of that is it's been phenomenal, particularly when you look at construction sites that have 1000s of people. You know, all I can do at the moment is is sideline a whole shift or work half shifts. So, you know, it's it's, it's, it's actually
Steve Statler 09:41
yeah, it's there's a number of aspects. One is preventative. So you're stopping people, you're, you're helping to reduce the chance that someone will be close to another person for a sustained, why the other one is simply doing the follow up and making sure that be People who've been exposed unknowingly, can get help and be aware. But also I guess the big ROI is around. And you see it in schools where they don't have these systems, someone gets sick. And then there's all these swathes of people who can't come in and they can't, can't work. So that productivity aspects has got to be a big part of the the value I imagine.
Nathan Dunn 10:27
It is. And I mean, the way the way we're seeing these, this is a, this is a physical insurance policy. So we all have insurance. And if you if you don't have a flood, doesn't mean you don't renew your insurance for next year. And this is, certainly as we move into a, I suppose a vaccine. Some people are, are of the opinion of there's a vaccine, we don't need to worry about, we don't need to invest in it. And I think that's, that's problematic on a number of levels. Because I mean, just the she logistics of vaccinating everyone, it's going to take quite some time, not everyone is going to take the vaccine. So we're going to enter a world where, you know, workplaces need to manage. Some people are going to be vaccinated, some people aren't, I mean, you know, it's a struggle, getting people to wear masks, you know, insist that they get vaccinated, you can't do that. And so this level of, I suppose visibility or traceability, I think is a is a cost of doing business moving forward. And so that that's the duty of care aspect from any employer or a workplace standpoint. The other aspect of it is, it's a visual, I suppose, indicator to workers that, hey, we've got your back, you know, feel comfortable coming back together, we're also doing a lot of work in the event space, for large, large scale conferences, looking to reopen again. Now, it's fine to be able to say, Hey, we're allowed to reopen, but the 1500 people that you want to congregate within that, that hole, they need a certain level of comfort to do it. And it's not necessarily just the authority site, we're allowed to. And so again, having this type of technology to say, listen, there's no personal information whatsoever. And if something happens, we can instantly identify the people that they need to be alerted. It's as simple as that.
Steve Statler 12:39
One of the things that I really like about it, it comes down to being British. So as an Australian, you may not feel the same way about this. But being British, or at least having grown up in England, were very kind of inhibited. Confronting people with awkward information, like, hey, maybe you're too close to me, especially you have a work relationship, you want to maintain those relationships. And also, you just sometimes forget to do it, but but it's, it's amazing how social pressures can can get people to flex what they know, is probably not good behavior. And this device is very objective. And it's like, there's no embarrassment, you know, if the things beeping, then it's like, obvious what you got to do, you got to back off a bit. And it doesn't require, you know, you can be the most junior person in the company, who's being visited by the most senior person in the company. And you don't need HR to come in and arbitrator and suggest that, you know, more distance will be better. So I think that's got a lot going for it as well.
Nathan Dunn 13:51
Yeah, I mean, I mean, you can blame it on the tag as to why you tell the CEO to back off, basically.
Steve Statler 13:57
Nathan Dunn 13:59
all of that's configurable. So, you know, we haven't, you know, the, there's a number of number of steps that we took deliberately in engineering this product, and, you know, our team has done an incredible job. I mean, we we have probably achieved 18 months worth of engineering work in, in the space of four and a half, five months from, from ideation to full certification. And, and it was done with a view of not a knee jerk reaction. But okay, if we're going to do this, we're going to do it properly. Because it really, it's really established a new, a new foundational architecture for boycotts moving forward. And COVID has just been the catalyst that so you know, there's a lot of lot of configuration capabilities, obviously, the first and foremost the size so There we go with within one and a half minutes. But the size, you know, this has been designed for rugged industrial environment, I think mining or gas construction. And so, you know, the battery life, we've got a 30 day battery life. And you know, it's, again, it's targeting the workflow that charging something every single day is a deal breaker in many, many, many situations but, and then also being able to configure different tags. So you have some people in construction, who if they're hanging drywall, for example, that they're going to be close to each other. And so we can configure those tags to still log that event, but don't flush and don't be because the the guys are going to find a hiding spot for that tag really quickly. And so it's an you know, they counted that now close contact with the additional PBA. So it's very configurable in that regard.
Steve Statler 16:03
Yeah, and in fact, your guys did that. For me, I wanted to have a visual indicator first, and then the audio indicator. And that was something that you did, just with a config change where you've talked to, we talked about the benefits, I think the back to work thing is very interesting in terms of making people feel comfortable and having a defendable position to get back to normal as quickly as possible. But where is where are you seeing the most traction? Where what's driving your sales at the moment?
Nathan Dunn 16:36
Um, firstly, it's essential work that can't be done from home. And so you know, if you if you ever look at the, you know, the companies that are really thrived through this, this lockdown, aside from all the streaming services, and what have you, you know, it's everything to do with online purchasing online launch shopping. And so and then, you know, if you take that a step further, you know, meat production as an example, it's been specifically impacted. And so, you know, targeting those environments where the business has increased, so they can't scale back production. And they can't do it from home. Now, initially, almost every company had to really make it up as they went, and Sega had it, how do we best handle this. And so we're in the stage now of as the penny drops, with a lot of a lot of companies, we're talking to that this is something we need for I mean, some, some of our clients have indicated that this is a two three year proposition, having this level of traceability as that insurance policy moving forward. And so it does come down to individuals and organizations acknowledging that, hey, we need to invest in this. Some people are of the opinion, there's a vaccine, let's take our foot off the gas. And our time is better spent targeting and finding the people that are convinced and then amplifying their stories and the benefits. And so, so it is that that essential, essential work in terms of bait, they have more work to do. So they need to actually cram more people into a space. And then the other the other aspect of it is that the work that can't be completed from home, but is critical in keeping the economy moving. And construction is a big one. I mean, a lot of the a lot of the economists that are obviously saying that a way out of this is governments need to spend a lot of infrastructure projects, get people back to work. And so it's critical that that construction stays open. And you know, there's actually an interesting study, I think it was Edinburgh University, analyze the number of the large construction companies in the UK throughout this shutdown and productivity actually increased. And and what they put that down to was just the the hyper focus on scheduling and timetabling and understanding that we can't have everyone on site. And so the electricians have this floor for this period, you got to get in you got to get out. Now. Now that's not that's not not now scalable, moving forward. It's and it's not viable. So at some point, you've got to open it back up. And it really is that that passive concept of provided the tag is associated. Keep it on and just go about your business. Do you think
Steve Statler 19:37
so? whilst I've got you here, I do want to talk a bit about what's happening in the industry with regard to ultra wideband and Bluetooth and just get an update on that. So you're good with moving on to talk about Absolutely, absolutely. So how would you, you know, we I think last time we spoke then Apple had announced that they were Putting ultra wideband in the iPhone 1111. Class it was, it was it was at the pro or it wasn't in all of the iPhone elevens. I don't think is it now going to be in? Is it now in all of the twelves? Is it? Is
Nathan Dunn 20:17
it on chip? Also in all their all the most of their power devices? Really? The eba II bugs I don't think have have the one in them. Okay. The headphones don't from what I understand. But look at you know, as as, as we said, the the seismic shift really was why why back in the standards meeting when five Samsung representatives and five Apple representatives walk in and set the front. Right. And I think the you know, we have the there's a standard, which is now offered, which, which obviously the focus there is to lay the foundation for that interoperability piece that is so critical to this. because on one hand, it's a bit of an arms race. But as we all know, interoperability needs to needs to exist. And so that, you know, that standard has been authored. There's a number of working consortiums, you know, the AWB Alliance. fara which were actually members of, and, you know, they're far as doing a fantastic job, from the perspective of on a technical side of things, and also from a marketing and branding side of things. Getting getting everyone at the table, and really trying to articulate what are the use cases? Where is all this headed? And how do we how do we further the overall cause of V web. So you know, the foundation that will truly being wide? You know, we've seen Samsung come out with their, their smart tag with the web version coming later this year. And I, I think the from, from the tag perspective on our tiles, flag value web version, and, and the, the Lucy bear tags from Apple. I think power management is really the the thing that needs to be, I suppose dealt with when it comes to those tags. Because as we know that the two way ranging element of the web is quite quite power intensive. So I would hazard a guess that the reason that when we don't see air tags and other tags is that putting AWB in is one thing, achieving a respectable battery life and, and just just an operating profile, that's a completely different proposition.
Steve Statler 22:55
So do developers have access to these huge web radios? Is that how tile is going to be doing its thing? Or is that all locked down?
Nathan Dunn 23:05
It's locked down at this stage. I mean, obviously, Android is generally more open than Apple ever is. But, you know, a select few are starting to have visibility to those SDKs. And, and look, that's, that's really where we're focusing on creating an environment that when access is available, then any of the smart devices get introduced into an environment and they can they can perform just the way a tag would perform today. And, you know, the, the, the the use cases, and and, you know, just the possibilities are amazing. And with the level of accuracy that you can achieve. And, you know, it's really that that feature that beacons, ble beacons kind of hinted at, you know, way back when, but you know, Bluetooth is Bluetooth is near enough is good enough. You web is is spot on. And I mean, the best best description I heard was from another another company penndot was Bally's guessing UW bass measuring. And that's probably the probably quite a good way to sum it up. But there's absolutely a role for both. And I'll give you one example. He's
Steve Statler 24:29
gonna try and get you to say this is going to be the test complete if you're not saying that, okay,
Nathan Dunn 24:35
not well, and we've got I think it'll be the death of Bluetooth being used where it shouldn't be used, or it's or it's not, not not effective. And, you know, on a contact tracing, there's a number of Bluetooth solutions that have gained quite a lot of traction and they are the price point is there. But but you get, you know, you're guessing you don't have that low level of accuracy and Look, Blitzer is not going away by by any stretch. And I mean, part of the part of the the efficiencies that we can achieve with our safety tag is courtesy of Bluetooth. So we use Bluetooth in these tags to sense other tags that might be in the vicinity. And then the new web module locks on to just those tags. And so and that's a classic example of near enough is good enough. You know, there's, there's someone five minutes away three minutes away, you know, give or take, and then new web kicks in, you can really, really get laser focused. And then also from a, from an offloading data over the air update capability. You know, it's the, certainly the best of both worlds and, and you need, you need Bluetooth to really get that. Particularly if we're talking about random devices coming within range of others and wanting to range Bluetooth is a is a brilliant triage if you like, to then then unleash AWB
Steve Statler 26:05
very insightful. Always a pleasure, Nathan, thanks very much for coming on the show. No problem at all. Thanks. I'm gonna end up now, with some thanks and acknowledgments, which is not something we've normally done before. So you know, it takes takes us a while to say thank you, in this case, almost five years. But I do want to thank Nelson Fernandez for editing the podcast, Don Rayner, for providing the voiceover on the the opening credits Jessie Hazelrigg, our producer, and most of all, you are dedicated listeners, if you're listening and watching now, then you're part of an elite set of dedicated IoT, auto ID indoor positioning nerds like me, we really appreciate your support, please do rate us on? Well, whoever is providing your podcasts to you and tell your friends. So until next time, thanks very much and see you soon. I don't know whether you've been thinking about music, but but actually what I've started to do is ask my guests a bit about their, their careers, their lives. Because I think it's kind of interesting for people to understand a bit about the people behind the technology. So if you don't mind, well, I'll start off with that.
Nathan Dunn 27:41
Yeah. Look, the I'm certainly living the the, the advice of if you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room. I I'm rarely the smartest person in any of our rooms. And I'm happy to acknowledge that. So my, my background isn't technology. I was actually I've been involved in in a number of ideas trying to put TV, TV screens in the back of hairdressing in in cabs here in Sydney. Or all well before tablets. So it was an absolute nightmare. from a technology standpoint, it was before any decent coverage or anything like that. But now there's certainly that desire to do something in technology. And then you know, the way boy cats really started was wanting to track shopping carts moving around a grocery store. And and I was actually working at Kellogg's, I was in marketing at Kellogg's and so understanding just the sheer amount of dollars spent in and around that, that environment, from a marketing standpoint, and even to this day, people have no idea how people physically shop and how they how they react or to a store layout. And so, you know, we got thinking about just consistently tracking the journey of people through through a store and to do that we needed some some robust tracking technology. And so, you know, this was this was in 2009. And that led us to a company called time to mind based in Huntsville, Alabama, who turned out to be you know, the original pioneers of ultra wideband, and then through a, you know, various opportunities and part of the journey we ended up buying the technology out of out of time domain which became plus location systems. And then at the same time, Bluetooth Low Energy was a thing and so having a wi powered device, they're on that now. Our first was beacons last for a number of years was the reality. And so that was sort of a side, initially a side project of the core web company. And then that was set up as blue cats, you know, back then, no one had any idea what AWB was. And TLS as well, you know, there was, there's still a lot of explanation around that. And, you know, since since then, it all the technologies have been merged. And obviously, the world is a lot more aware of, at least the benefits or there is something in real time, real time location. And, as you know, you wb is has been anointed by the technology gods. And so a lot of people are discovering it for the first time, which is so on.
Steve Statler 30:50
Well, let's come back to you though, because the other half of the program is going to be about the the technology and I think in many ways, you're living the dream, you're in Sydney, that's pretty good stuff. But also, you're the CEO of this really interesting company. How did you get to be CEO of a really interesting company? Is it was it something that you always wanted to do? Did you always want to be a leader of, of a technology company?
Nathan Dunn 31:21
Now? Well, I knew, and no disrespect to large companies like Kellogg's, but I knew I didn't want to be working in a large company. And I'd worked in a number number previously, and it's, it's strange how, at the time, when you're doing something that you know, you're not, it's not really resonating with you. But you're sort of going through the motions. And it's a very, it's a tough decision to make, to, to jump. Really not not necessarily knowing what you're jumping into, but you know, that you don't want to be where you are. And, and I think everyone has those chapters in their lives that at some point down the track, you do something and every, every experience you've had makes sense. And, and so the perfect example of that is going from a, from a technology perspective, wanting to put TVs in taxis, and coming up against the bureaucracy and red tape of government and swearing, and never to have anything to do with that. And then into, you know, the world of breakfast cereals, and fmcg. And then getting into what what obviously became blue cats was tracking in grocery stores. And so the technology aspect of it always had an interest. And then leveraging some of my experience and insight that I'd gained through through the time of Kellogg's proved invaluable. And so, so all of a sudden, everything, everything made sense. But I got into it, you know, there was a company looking at commercializing a smart shopping cart, which, which originated in Texas, actually, and was brought out he by by a number of investors who I had a connection with. And, and so I got involved with that very early on. And it turns out that the original concept and the original direction that the investors wanted to take that was was flawed, just from, you know, the filings of the technology and, and all the rest of it was 100%, an advertising type proposition and, and I could see past that and into more about just the concept of the value of the real time tracking, and they the instant visibility that that could give someone as to what is actually going on. And as within that original, I suppose startup, you know, there are a couple of guys, Kurt and Cody, who are now our, our co CTOs based in Austin, Texas. And they were involved with that at that original startup. And we were we could sort of, you know, sort through the rubble of what was really valuable he and what was the real kernel of the idea that had legs and so we got together and you know, we're we're in still are now very well backed by a single investor here in Sydney. And so then the journey began on on all things tracking and then we're lucky enough to still be here to tell the story and as I said, all the all those all those various trade winds completely out of anyone's control are actually that are back now so it's um, it's it's, it's a coming up on a 12 year overnight success sounds good.
Steve Statler 35:00
It's interesting just to sort of pick on a few of the things that you've talked about this fact that everything seems to make sense, in retrospect, your experiences all added up to kind of the perfect resume to, to do what you were doing, I think, you know, that's very often the case isn't it all. But for that to happen, you need to be willing to move around a bit. Because you can have the perfect resume, but be in the wrong place. So there's some, some flexibility and maybe a bit of luck to be where your qualifications are exactly what's needed. And then, and I go ahead,
Nathan Dunn 35:42
I was gonna say, Sorry, interrupting, it's a fine line as well. And I think younger generations today. The on one hand, the older generation are sort of looking at looking at younger generations and saying that they're impatient. But at the same time, it's a, you know, that you don't you don't work with an objective of getting a gold watch on your, on your retirement with the one company anymore. So, but it is a fine line between reading the tea leaves and saying I shouldn't be here. And focusing on the fact that, well, I am here, so let's, let's get everything I can out of it. And at some point, that'll pay off. And it's, I mean, when we've had a number of people leave us, and I mean, not not a lot, to be honest, we've been very fortunate with a very low turnover over the years, but people that have gone to other other careers and other jobs, you know, very apprehensive having that discussion and saying, Hi, I'm leaving. My first reaction with everyone is congratulations for making the decision. Because it is such a big decision and making that decision. Sometimes it's half the half the effort.
Steve Statler 36:54
Yeah, and sometimes, not in your case, I guess. But sometimes it takes getting fired, to get you to laid off, there's a downsizing or whatever. And that can seem like a tragedy. And then you look back and you realize, Oh, well actually, if it weren't for this horrible situation I was in, I might have been seduced into staying in, you know, a suboptimal place. So whether it's being laid off, or just not liking your boss or whatever, these it's amazing how these bad situations can turn good. But how did you end? Because you're the leader, and lots of people want to be the leader? How? How was it? You know, one of the things with you know, you're pretty modest person, but why? Why do you Why did you end up being the CEO? Was it because you had a game plan? Or was it because you add certain personal qualities? What is it that gets you in that job? Well, I
Nathan Dunn 37:57
think, from the from the personal quality side of it, as I said, I'm not a I'm not an engineer, I'm not a developer, and so on. And whenever everyone gets nervous, and everyone's in an introvert at some point, but I'm uncomfortable talking to people. And so I think that's obviously an important role. You know, the further you get up a particular org chart, it's, it's more about, you know, storytelling, really, whether it's, it's, it's consistently storytelling internally, externally, what have you, so I'm relatively comfortable with that. And the, at the outset, it the the roles were pretty clearly defined. You know, it's not as if we're all engine engineer's vying to be the one who can crack the code and things like that, you know, that the the the aspect of the business that I was more than comfortable taking on now the there are other guys in the organization that more than happy for me to be doing interviews like this, and, and worry about the business side of it. And, you know, as long as they can, they can stick that to their needing and have the right context along the way and, you know, it's every, every organization can can can do a better job at that internal storytelling particularly. And we're exactly the same particularly with distributed offices here in Sydney and in Huntsville, and, and in Austin. But it's, you know, that's, that's really how things started out. It's certainly certainly not an egotistical thing to say, right on, I would say, oh, and I'm not gonna stand for anything else. It was more about habits, that there was a lot of gut feel in the early days. There's certainly no you won't find any evidence of, or certainly me, only most people in the industry back in 2011, saying this is going to mean the iPhone one day. But it, it's just about being able to choose who you listen to. And then at some point, you've got to pick your line and run it. And that that's what we've done. As I said, we've been fortunate enough to remain very agile, and be well funded. And we're, we're still here to take advantage of it.
Steve Statler 40:34
So do you think being less technical than the other founders, the CEO CEO CTOs, has that helped in being more objective, because I feel like being a leader in a technology company is super challenging, there's just so much to understand in terms of the market and all the technical decisions that impact the business. And it can get really complicated. And it seems like most of the good CEOs that I've known is they managed to boil things down into something simple that they can tell a story around and actually take a decision around is, is actually being less technical helpful in your in your position,
Nathan Dunn 41:22
it certainly helps from the perspective of that storytelling. And its Look, don't get me wrong, it's still very difficult to, you know, approach a particular industry or an opportunity from a very technical standpoint, and be able to cut through all the noise and to say, No, no, no, here's what we've got to do. But being able to certainly have an appreciation, just through she technical naivety or ignorance, on my part to be able to just focus on Okay, well hang on, where do we? Where do we want to be going? And who, who is going to? Whose problem are we solving. And, and again, everyone can get better at that we're getting better over time, we're getting better at it. One, one negative, to not being that technical, he's obviously not being able to, you know, look at the engineering team and say, you guys said six weeks, there's no way in the world that's only going to take two, you know, you can't, you can't really go and look that that's where there's there's trust, you've got to trust that, that the person next to us, is provided everyone's got the right context. Trust that, you know, what you've been being told is accurate. And, and so, you know, my, my focus, and we're getting much better at this has been identifying the stage in the engineering process, at which point do we then really engage the market? And, and, you know, it's, it's a, it's a bit of a balancing act, because you don't want to pick a large customer and say, well, Mike, whatever you want, because then then you're effectively an outsourced dev house, and you end up with something that only that customer needs. And then at the stroke of a pen, their leadership makes a change, and you're left with the baggage. So it's a fine line between saying, oh, here's what we're going to make, and we reckon the markets gonna want this and saying, right, this is the direction we're gonna go, we're gonna create a consistent product that will service everyone. And at this point, we jump off when we say, right, let's get to product manager for healthcare, a product manager for construction and for various others. And there's a legend customization, when under the hood, it's actually a consistent product. And so that's, that's sort of the position we're in right now. You know, we've been able to sort of learn on one of those, those processes along the way.
Steve Statler 43:57
So did you get a product manager for those verticals?
Nathan Dunn 44:02
Now, we do actually, I interviewed one last week, and we got another interview after this. So so we're at that stage and and we're engaged with key people that we've identified, can represent scale or introduce scale into those verticals. And it's about Firstly, acknowledging who brings what to the table, we bring value. At some point, we hand that off, and someone else delivers value. And so that's a combination of systems integrators, a combination of our own team going direct, and resellers and things like that. So each one obviously has, there's pros and cons. And there's a lot of support and infrastructure needed around those different models. And so it's just trying to put our best foot forward so that we can stick to what we're good at.
Steve Statler 44:57
And how big is blue cats now.
Nathan Dunn 45:00
So it 52 people that really, and it's it's probably two thirds in the US. And then the other balance here in Sydney. And so we've got all of our work, we're completely full stack operation now. So everything from antenna design, RF, RF engineers through the board layouts, firmware, hardware design, and then software, both cloud and on premise and then mobile, as well. So it's, yeah, we've got that complete package. And all of our hardware is actually designed and built in the US, which is a very unique proposition compared to in the market, for sure. And so we we find that that gives us a greater degree of control. And having the people that that that have designed, the full stack solution means that they can be sitting with the with the contract manufacturer, and overseeing things and at the test house with the certifications and various things. So as we all know, unless you're hitting the volumes that are ridiculous. Offshore production needs it necessarily worth it from day one.
Steve Statler 46:21
Very interesting. Well, I got to ask the musical question. I won't do the mass thing, but just we've all been in lockdown. Have you found yourself listening to more or less music of it? What do you been listening to recently?
Nathan Dunn 46:35
It's actually less. And I mean, the reason is there's no commute. And I don't have a huge commute anyway. But you know, that we all sort of look forward to getting in the car. And so, I mean, I've got about four kids. The eldest is 14, the youngest is two. So locked out has been pretty, pretty fun. Now I say lockdown, we haven't been in lockdown for quite some time. Life is relatively normal. Here in Australia, thankfully. But the and obviously having done this a few times, Steve, I'm actually going to, I'm going to reserve the right to deviate. And I've actually gravitated toward a couple of podcasts. Now, I mean, yours as a given. So that's, that's obvious. But But you know, there's two in particular, and I mean, I'm not sure whether you're familiar with Scott Galloway, Professor Scott Galloway, so he's got a podcast called Prof. g. And
Steve Statler 47:35
it's amazing. I listened to him with Kara Swisher on their podcast. And I have to say he's the cuts
Nathan Dunn 47:45
through you know, he can he can articulate what's going on. He's got a pretty, pretty impressive crystal ball at times. So, so I think that you know, that that one particularly have really gravitated towards and then blue more lighthearted recently discovered a podcast called smartlace, which is Jason Bateman. Sean Hayes and Will Arnett and, and you know, that just, I mean, he talked about a brilliant, brilliant life, they just get one of their famous friends on for an hour and they talk but it's, it is very, very funny. Nice and light hearted. So now, if you're in a hallway to music, I've always been a good big Jimmy Buffett fan. You know, pretty, pretty relaxed. Top person. So probably probably fair amount of Jimmy Buffett eagles.
Steve Statler 48:40
That's right, as well. I like the podcast one very much. Yeah. I've been listening to a lot. Golly, there's the there's a there's a technology commute while and for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it. I mean, to look it up. But the one I've been really enjoying is, is called The Sopranos. And it's basically a guide to the different Sopranos episodes. And because, you know, because of the lockdown I've been, we've been binge watching different things. And best show ever or certainly in the top few. And these guys are just fanatics. And they have just very interesting insights into it, though, what what I've been listening to is technium ride home. Apparently. It's what Zuckerberg listens to or listen to, at one point. Keep up with what's happening in Silicon Valley. It's, it's pretty good. Very good. Well, thanks for sharing a bit about how you got to where you got to and very interesting hearing about those podcasts. And that was that was that was great, Nathan. Appreciate it. No worries. Thanks.