Sramana Mitra: Of all the goods that get moved around in warehouses or containers, what percentage of those are equipped with wireless tracking devices?
Rahul Patel: That depends on the industry. If you look at things being transported – containers being transported over the ocean, for example – they all have wireless falloff tracking. The tracking is tied to the value of a good. Large containers, which are more valuable because they have a lot more things put together inside of them, are usually tracked. The goods inside are not individually tracked. In the automobile industry, many things are tracked as they go along the manufacturing line. That may not be true for somebody who is producing chocolate bars. It depends on the industry, and it varies from industry to industry. It all comes down to what the value of the good is. There is some value in tracking. They have been tracking – it is not something new – using proprietary technologies. Now manufacturers are moving away from proprietary and are using more standard-based technologies.
SM: Where else do you see the Internet of Things penetrating?
RP: The sensory market and automotive are the two big areas where we see wireless connectivity coming into play.
SM: What about medical devices?
RP: That is part of the sensory market, because you sense and then use wireless connectivity to move data.
SM: Let’s talk about wearables.
RP: Wearables are all about low-powered connectivity – connectivity that is standard-based and ultimately cannot drain the experience. What is critical in low-powered connectivity is that you cannot emphasize the importance of the standard-based part enough, because the wearable product is going to talk to a standard-based phone for the most part.
The low-cost and low-powered connectivity that supports some of these attributes is Bluetooth low energy. This is a lot more prevalent. It is in most of the newer phones and platforms, it is in most of the products that are being designed, and we expect these designs to be very small and light and able to communicate only when a data cycle needs to be transferred. It is going to be a device that is going to shut off very quickly and turn on only when the time is right to transfer data or when somebody is moving or watching the screen.
What we have is a platform that enables the design on top of this. It is an all-encompassing platform. It enables a designer to not worry about wireless or networking protocols, but to put their applications through the right APIs onto a hardware platform and build a product. As a result, it brings networking and technology to companies that are in the wearables market but that don’t have the capacity to design all the high-tech features. Watch companies have been shipping watches since forever, but they are not high-tech companies. The platform we bring to the table enables them to create new Internet of Things–type wearables.
SM: What you just described – the automatic switching off and on, power management, etc. – is that part of the platform?
RP: It is part of our chips.