Episode 35 of The Andy Show
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:45] Good afternoon and welcome to Monday’s episode of The Andy Show. The date today is the 8th of June, 2020. It’s a Monday, the sun is threatening to come out and the time is coming up on 12:31 in the afternoon. Well, supply chains. We all know about how supply chains have been working and how they’ve been interrupted and how some of them have been kept doing during the current lockdown. Well, it’s my absolute pleasure today to be joined by two masters of the supply chain. I am joined all the way from Israel with a Dima Feldman and Aviv Castro from Altair Semiconductor. Gentlemen, welcome.
AVIV CASTRO [00:01:31] Hello.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:01:31] Hello, hello.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:01:33] So let’s, I’m gonna pick on you to begin with Dima, because you’re closer on my side of the studio. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do?
DIMA FELDMAN [00:01:44] Oh, cool. So I am a VP Product Management and Marketing at Altair Semiconductor, a Sony Company. And I am responsible for the definition of our products and how we market them.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:01:57] Beautiful. And Aviv?
AVIV CASTRO [00:02:01] Nice to meet you. Excited to be here today. So I’m Aviv Castro, I’m the Vice President of Business Development. I’m responsible for Eco-System Creation’s Strategic Partnership and creating new and non-traditional opportunities that generate revenues. In simple words, we are trying to unlock the complexity for supply chains, for example, by introducing end to end solution to our customers together with our partners in the ecosystem. So I would be happy to elaborate it to you about.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:02:35] Yeah, absolutely. Well, that adds to my next question, which is Altair Semiconductor, if you had to do your elevator pitch, one of you. I won’t say which one. One of you tell me what Altair Semiconductor does.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:02:51] Yeah. I’ll start with it. So what we do is we provide connectivity for a very big range of IoT devices. It’s a start from different wearables that can monitor your health or upload your data while after you finish running. It goes to a lot of smart metering applications where our electricity bills and guards and water are being built on the monthly. A period and the companies can get a good statistic about we do and actually provide additional services, for example, me, I could have a water leakage in my house and I could get a text message from the company saying, hey, please check what’s happening? And then I think the most exciting segment today is definitely the logistics. This area is booming and we see an ability to track practically everything today. Everything and everywhere. It could be people, could be kids, could be dogs. It could be shipping containers, pilot boxes, everything. And for each one of those examples, there are excellent use cases and people get a lot of benefit by tracking them. We can start from an example like kids, dogs, containers, windshield for vehicles. Each one of those segments has tremendous benefits of being tracked online and provide the information for people who can use it after that.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:04:26] I mean, that’s very, that’s quite impressive. So how did this all come about? Where you were founded? And and why Israel? There you go.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:04:36] Well Israel is where we live, so not for us to choose.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:04:41] Okay.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:04:42] The company or maybe as those days, but we like it here. The company has been founded in 2005. At some point we actually realised that there is a segment that’s going to grow. The company is shifting its focus towards IT broadband connectivity, tablets, routers, providing us data everywhere. In 2016, we have been acquired by Sony.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:05:10] Yes.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:05:10] Sony semiconductors, actually. We all know Sony TV as we know cameras, we know PlayStations. But Sony also has a very big semiconductor business. It’s probably can find Sony devices, is in most smartphones today for cameras, but also Sony investing heavily in IoT because IoT is the way to bring your collected data and improve everybody living and within. And since Sony acquisition, I think it’s 4 years from now, we focus entirely on dieties segment of the connectivity.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:05:48] And I ask the question a few minutes ago, why Israel? Because a lot of the companies we speak to are British or are American or possibly European. We get people from all over the world but I’m always interested in the tech landscape of different places. So regarding tech and innovation, I’ve spoken to quite a few companies who have said we’re located in Israel. Is tech a big thing now in Israel?
DIMA FELDMAN [00:06:18] Oh, yes. It’s a very big thing in Israel. I think, here in Israel, 8 million people country. You’ll find here, well, we have Sony. You’ll find here Microsoft and IBM and Apple and Facebook and Amazon, as a big companies because they recognise the talents that are here. You will also find thousands of thousands and thousands of start-ups. Doing all kinds of innovative things. Some of them are in medicine field. Some are IoT and some are A.I.. this is very vivid environment for start-ups, and this is why we see so many innovation coming from. And this is why we decided to invest here.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:07:00] Yeah. No. Fantastic. So we talk a little bit about the Sony acquisition in IoT in a little bit. But my producers, what are the things my producers of asked me to ask about is you have a flagship product. I’m trying to figure out if that’s what you’re talking about when you said it could be pets. It could be various different things. It’s the ALTI 250?
DIMA FELDMAN [00:07:21] It’s ALT 1250, it’s a tiny, tiny chipset. Wow. Just lost it. It’s tiny, and it includes everything that track on is. It has the modem, the G.P.S. function, seem Cloud embedded into this space. Actually, let me show it again. This is the modem. This is what we do.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:07:52] Wow.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:07:53] This is a SIM card.
ANDREW MCCLEAN [00:07:56] Wow.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:07:57] You’ve got to realise the proportion. Now we put it inside. Also, we put it inside. So we have the modem, the sim card. The processor to do kind of calculations and the G.P.S.. So this tiny piece of silicone can track practically everything and work everywhere on the globe with the solar coverage. And this is exciting. And I think we have invested our hundreds and hundreds of engineers, many years of engineers to develop this technology. So it’s size, you see it’s tiny.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:08:30] I can’t believe the size. It’s amazing.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:08:31] It’s tiny. Our power consumption is totally different from what you used to, you know, with that for smaller devices, smartphones, watches, we are used to days, maybe a week of operation, they think, and work 2 years on a track and field. So you put a small battery, you stick it on a box and you can know where the box is. You can know the temperature. It can know if somebody dropped it. And you can generate a new business around this kind of data that you provide. And actually, one thing that we see around IoTs, it’s a lot of collaboration because we are then, we are semiconductor company. We’re doing the chipset, we understand tracking. But we also “call for it” a lot of with companies who actually do the tracking’s, understand the trackings and that can use the data we provide and transform it to the additional business and it created a lot of additional value.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:09:31] Well, that of course, is going to lead on to my very obvious question, which I’m now going to ask about the IoT market in general. And that’s to do with the global lockdown that’s come about. How have you seen this current pandemic? This lockdown is complete change of businesses and the way they are operating has affected the IoT market?
DIMA FELDMAN [00:09:59] Well, I think our market is a little bit slow because we are still semiconductor company and for us, development cycles are long. But we definitely see and the question is very, it’s not surprising because we see how people, things are more from going to shops to shipping things to our houses. But so one thing that we do see increase in their shipments and all of this generates new data and requires us to do it in a more accurate and efficient way. We also see an increased value in knowing where things came from. So maybe, and this is a general awareness of all of us. We do want to know if I go and buy apples or bananas. I do want to know where that came from. And where when they have been picked and if they have been stored in the proper condition. And if I pay for an amount of money for the bananas that has been picked last week or 3 days ago or 4 weeks ago and store in a good temperature just to keep them fresh. So this is where I.T. come to the game and it can generate all those insights and provide us information. Which what we eat, what we buy, whereby the staple, even more importantly or. well, even more interesting there, I would say. If you provide a lot of insight to the conference? For example, desktop, when they buy bananas, they know exactly how to pay for them because they know the condition. They know to anticipate the shelf life. If you know, you need to sell it within a day or within a week, how fresh they are where they are came from? And this kind of insides are critical for businesses to operate in an efficient and competitive way.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:11:55] What I’m interested in as well is things that logistics, supply chains of things that have happened during this pandemic because, of course, things have had to change. For example, the way things have been shipped, the way things are being tracked and things like even changes to like medical equipment, which has had to move around. I mean, what kind of changes have you seen to the environment during this time?
DIMA FELDMAN [00:12:26] I think. Well, again, we are not the shipping company, but we see companies asking for a quality data of what they ship. I think that is the main thing, we see. They want to understand what they are doing. Also, what we see is there was a huge change in the ship in or out within those 2 months. We see, much less airlines and this is what I’m more familiar with, so the entire airline traffic was changed. And company need companies need to know how to ship things now efficiently and with a reasonable cost and within a reasonable quality, which airports are open, which airport has delays? Where we’re going to have our next flight to London. It’s not like it was 2 months ago where we had probably 4 or 5 daily flight from 2 or 3 airlines. It should probably even more. So, and this kind of data and if you think of it, how do you consolidate all the data from different carriers? You had the British Airlines, you had the, you had the easyJet, you have the cargo planes and you’re a guy who just want to ship bananas again, in that example. How do you know that? and I think this is where IoT can help or an additional system. This is actually about the eco system way it can how to bring these knowledge to people who can actually use it and know how to use it.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:13:57] What about when this is all over? When this pandemic lockdown is over? Do you think the way that people consume the IoT market or use the IoT market will have changed? Or will change?
AVIV CASTRO [00:14:12] Maybe, let me try to do answer that. I think that, you know, regardless to the COVID-19. This is really exciting times for the IoT industry. Many technologies along the IoT work tools that enable finally the massive IoT all out, as we see it now. For example, the disruptive disposable batteries technology is very low power cellular models and tiny ones as you saw it. And of course, cybersecurity and efficient IoT cloud platforms all converge to a point that we actually can offer to our customer a very low cost and efficient IoT solutions. And the smart label, for example. You know that we discussed is a great example of that. You know, 3 years ago, if you looked like a dream, actually. To have a disposable mobile device, if you like. Very low cost, that you can basically attach to any package and take around the globe to get this data, insights and business intelligence. And, of course, as Dima said, was COVID-19 in the background. The idea meant for supply and shipping. And then the demand to analyse the data become even more and more relevant to this at this stage. So I really think that we all understand now. Again, in the light of COVID-19 and even afterward, that the enterprise customers need the data, they need the business intelligence outcome. And we realise that we can make it easier for them to achieve better data and intelligent driven business results. And this is what I mean when I say that, you know, we are here to unlock the IoT complexity. This is what we are, we are trying to do. And we are actually unlocking major part of this complexity by introducing a new, I would call it ecosystem collaboration spirit. We understand that, you know, the value chain is very fragmented. There are many pieces in deposits. We need to bring, you know, all the pieces together. And it’s very difficult for even a company like Sony or Microsoft or, you know, any other giant company in this field to bring all the pieces together. So we are building and creating this ecosystem to provide the end customer, our one stop shop. Experience and it feel like, you know, you have everything on the table and they can now go and focus on the data and the business intelligence that he needs. And I think that this is what so excited abou IoT. You know, today in the field, today in the market, we all call it IoT, the Internet of Things. But actually, it’s more like things of Internet, you know,. It’s there piece by piece by piece everywhere. And to bring it to a place that the customer, for example, which is you know, pharmaceutical cropscience company. They are very far from mobile devices technology and IoT. To bring them, the Internet of Things, really, in a very simple as it sounds like they have their own Google. Now they can, you know, look and get all the data from those sensors and get that business intelligence that make a business decision. Decisions that are driven by this data. This is the big thing here. And I think that we all see now. I would even say that in some way, you know, we all changed our work style during this COVID-19. We are walking at home with these cameras. Speaking with that and our customers and partners around the globe. And I think that it really, this situation, take us to a place that we all understand that we are all partners, we are all on the same boat, in the personal level and in the business level. And through this collaboration, I believe that we will see many, many, many innovations, actually. You know, they say that in Israel, they say that in emergencies and the and the wars, there is some baby boom, right after because you know, people are bored at home. So I think that there will be a lot of business baby boom after this COVID-19 because people are more open, are more available to think differently. They are a less influenced by their ego and title and they all want to to good things to to help the world. So this is my belief and I think that we are going to see a real revolution and the smart “rate” is just the tip of the iceberg. But think about it that what do we actually show by implementing this smart label is that we can build a cellular censors. To monitor anything, as Dima said, from people, to assets, to valves, to water metres. It’s all about sensing and monitoring in real time. Very low cost cellular devices can be disposable, can be for 10 years in the field. This is the revolution and we are very happy to be here and to be part of this market and to contribute and to make it happen.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:20:43] No, I absolutely. I can feel your passion there. Well, you know, there’s always this question around IoT. You spoke about what it means, for example. And I knew companies that are using IoT devices in water metres for care homes and all sorts of things. Do you think IoT is gonna become more and more of a standard for the way business is done?
AVIV CASTRO [00:21:09] For sure. We have a lot of examples from… take Japan, for example. So gas meters should be cellular operated in Japan by regulation. Because of earthquakes, they need to, you know, to shut down the the gas valves in case of earthquake. In the U.K., for example, there were some problems that the washing machines burned in their basements and the regulation now, we need to have the capability to shut down the washing machine or any other, you know, white appliance and also to have the recall capability. So we think that the IoT, we know that there are many other aspects, you know, like solutions for elderly people. And we think that the regulation will go in this direction. And IoT will become really part of anything in our life. From again, temperature control in food shipping, temperature control in pharmaceuticals shipping, to white appliances recall and shut down in case of emergency. You know, all of this will become part of our day to day activity and will for sure will be involve some regulation. Even in the government level.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:22:41] Absolutely. So one of the things that have plagued companies for forever has been this idea of asset tagging. And sometimes it’s down to an Excel spreadsheet. It could be a nightmare, you put little labels on things and have to keep track of them but my producers tell me that you’ve recently released a junk, a joint column about asset tracking. He tells a little bit about that?
AVIV CASTRO [00:23:07] Dima, the stage is yours.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:23:10] Yeah. We had a column just to actually describe what can be done and why. And I think one of the points, a brief mention is a cost point. In a fast and we all know the cellular devices probably cost hundreds of watts and we had to pay them another tens of dollars or pounds for connectivity. Now it’s all boils up for a, I would say sapped $10 very, very soon devices. And if you go even farther below probably $5 or $6 in the future. We see a much cheaper way to learn things, track things, sensing things. And this enables us to attach the devices to many different objects. So in the past, if we put attached device to a container or expensive by track? Now we can do it on the polytonic box level. And I just want to give you maybe a few more examples to understand.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:24:16] Yes, please.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:24:17] What kind of insights you can get from real online tracking. But one example, would we think of a big company trying to… or shipping containers in windshields for vehicles from a factory in Germany to a factory in Italy, for example. They can do it by train and can take it, I don’t know? 2 weeks. And imagine a situation where the container got a hit in the first day or a second day, it was dropped accidentally on the second day. What today would happen is the container will arrive to the factory. They’ll work and they will open and say all those windshields are cannot be used. And what factory will do it? You basically halt all the operations because they miss the critical parts on the assembly line. And it’s all done in such a phase that if you go and visit one day a machine there, automotive assembly line. It’s amazing how all those machines work work. So if you suddenly get their damage equipment, the entire factory will stop. And if the device, as we say, it could be attached to a container, to a box of windshields. We’ll say, hey, we have a problem here. Please send in other box or, you know, fly by helicopter. It will save tons of money. Also knowing where your goods are. So maybe even different example, we can properly adjust the insurance rate. If the containers in the seats are likely to be stolen, unlike if it’s being shipped by truck. So insurance company can know where our goods are and provide better insurance rate. And therefore be more accurate. And this has been actually good for all of us as a users. And this is another example. Maybe a third example and a little bit similar to the windshield. Think of a vaccine or a critical chemical compound that’s going from one factory in China to another factor in Europe. Will hopefully very soon the vaccine against COVID. And it’s arrived damaged. So you can discover it on the day to arrive because you put some longer or you can discover it two weeks before and find another way to ship those goods. So all those junk. And this is just maybe a touching the very small amount out of the entire amount of use cases we see. But these are kind of the thing that IoT and tracking and logistic can work together and collaborate with different company. We work with a shipping company. We work with Cloud companies, a work with device company. We also partner with data analytic companies, who can learn and collect all those amounts of data and provide those valuable insights, like for this automotive company to say, you need to act now. And don’t wait to container to arrive. That we think our devices can do.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:27:28] You know guys, I could talk to you about this all day. I think it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s fascinating. I think supply chains are fascinating and IoT, I can see where the industry is gonna go and be. And if I had a time machine, well an IoT time machine, a jump forward 10 years just to see how ingrained IoT has become in companies of all sizes, from medical to manufacturing. But it’s a fascinating topic. Unfortunately, Dima and Aviv, we have run out of time today. But you have been fantastic guests. And thank you so much for joining us and enjoy the the lovely weather over there.
AVIV CASTRO [00:28:09] Thank you.
DIMA FELDMAN [00:28:09] Thank you very much.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:28:11] That was Dima Feldman and Aviv Castro from Altair Semiconductor, who is speaking to us about IoT and how IoT has been changing. Has changed in this lockdown and how it’s gonna change in the future. Around all the the bane of many people’s existence, which is asset tracking and supply chain. So fascinating stuff. And we look forward to hearing more from these guys after the lockdown to see how the IoT industry is changing. The time now is coming up, 12:59. You have been watching The Andy Show. I’ve been Andrew McLean and until tomorrow. I’ll see you soon.