On a family ski trip Peter Celinski unexpectedly found himself negotiating his way down an expert trail, when suddenly he became aware of the need for a hands-free way to communicate with his more experienced companions – which happened to be his young children. This was the catalyst for Milo, and as its founder and CEO, Peter is setting out to provide outdoor sports enthusiasts with something they’ve never had before – hands-free group communication. He describes Milo as an “action communicator,” and it’s the first fully integrated communication device designed specifically for outdoor adventure sports. It’s also the first device of its kind to integrate audio and network connectivity, which means no Wi-Fi or cellular connection is necessary.
2020 has incentivized many of us to take to the great outdoors as a way to socialize at a socially acceptable distance, but who wants to yell at each other over the crashing waves or risk taking our hands off the handlebars so we can push a button on a walkie-talkie? Milo offers a way to speak to others in your group without pushing any buttons or yelling over the action. The networking functionality also allows Milo devices to create their own mesh network, making it possible for up to 16 people to communicate with each other at a range of up to 600 meters, with a low latency, high quality voice experience. That range can be extended further with Milo devices making it possible for transmission to hop from one device to another.
Peter has spent three years developing his idea, and the Kickstarter he launched in support of Milo is dramatically outperforming expectations. In fact, Peter has taken orders for nearly 10,000 units and expects to begin shipping by the end of the year – just in time for ski season. There were two key challenges Peter needed to overcome to deliver on his vision: high quality audio and reliable connectivity. Being able to hear everyone in the group clearly while careening down a hill on a mountain bike required paying a great deal of attention to the acoustic design, including microphone placement and the audio processing algorithms that suppresses background noise. The second critical element he knew he had to get right was the proprietary mesh networking protocol, which he’s nicknamed “Milo Net Protocol.” The team developed the custom protocol with the explicit goal of bringing reliable voice distribution in dynamic conditions.
Peter invested a lot of time evaluating a range of radio options from various vendors with an eye on performance, low power, and flexibility – all of the elements that would be necessary create a great user experience. Ultimately, the Silicon Labs Flex Gecko SoC was selected because of its ability to deliver on these three requirements.
On Tuesday, October 27th, we’re excited to team up with global technology researchers at Omdia to explore some of the challenges facing smart building development. Ross Sabolcik, Silicon Labs’ Vice President and GM, Industrial and Commercial IoT Products, will be joined by Senior Vice President of Digital Lighting Networks at Acuity, Trevor Palmer, and Omdia’s David Green as they discuss the what needs to happen to deliver on the promise of smart buildings and the importance energy monitoring will play.
Attendees will learn how wireless connectivity will be one of the key drivers to the workforce emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, through the adoption of flexible solutions that make it possible to return to the workplace. These same developments will feature applications, including predictive maintenance, occupancy sensors, and HVAC/lighting remote monitoring, that address the number one end-user goal for smart buildings – energy efficiency.
Key topics of discussion will include:
Register for the 45-minute session here, and be sure to stick around for the live Q&A immediately following the conversation.
Thread is at the heart of the most important IoT convergence initiatives. In the smart home ecosystem, we have seen Project Connected Home over-IP focus on Thread and Wi-Fi first. The Project is a unifying platform for the smart Home backed by Google, Apple, Amazon and Comcast and many other leading technology companies with the primary goal of increasing compatibility among smart home products to enable more innovative solutions by IoT developers. And in the smart building space, we have seen IP-BliS an industry coalition that aims to raise awareness to the value IP networks can bring to the smart building space, promote Thread as one of their core protocols. So, Why is Thread getting all the attention and what is OpenThread?
Thread is an IP-based, secure, low power, mesh network protocol. The secret ingredient in this recipe is the combination of IP and low power. Thread brings IP to low-power devices securely and reliably. Being low-power and IP-based means that Thread enables your coin cell powered smart home electronics to operate with the same security protocols that you use (and trust) for your banking transactions. Thread tackles a unique problem in the smart home and building ecosystem – bringing the Internet to low-power devices.
Thread compliments the battery-powered wireless protocols with IP capability.
From an ecosystem convergence standpoint, a significant benefit of Thread is that it can support various application layers. This is because Thread abstracts all the networking under IP. To Thread, all application-layer transactions are merely IP traffic, which allows a good deal of flexibility and fluidity. Developers can start using Thread today and change the application layer later when needed, without having to upgrade or change the whole software stack.
Thread implementation, OpenThread, is open source, meaning when you use Thread, you get all the power of a community of developers working together to perfect the software stack. This gives you the bandwidth to focus on innovation rather than the basics. It also means that you can actively contribute to the code base.
Based on its features and reliable implementation, demand for Thread has been increasing and will likely continue to grow. Thread has the potential to become the IP layer that glues the IoT together.
Getting Started with Thread
You can start developing smart home and smart building solutions with Thread on the EFR32 series today. EFR32MG21A/B is our highest integrated Thread-certified part. And because everyone should be prioritizing security in their IoT solutions, EFR32MG21B supports SecureVault technology, which enables you to protect user data from hacks all the way down to the chip level.
Developing wireless networks can be tough, and this is why we provide an incredible suite of developer tools in Simplicity Studio. To get started with OpenThread using Simplicity Studio 5.0, watch this incredible demo on OpenThread from the WorksWith 2020 conference.
Project Connected Home over IP won’t officially be released until next year, but to enable our eager and forward-thinking developers, we are already providing demos and use cases for developing CHIP using OpenThread on our EFR32 parts. We are excited to work on making actual solutions using Project Connected Home over IP.
While there are many Thread use-cases, it is still early in its market adoption process, and there will be a direct relationship between IP valuation and Thread adoption. The primary two unification efforts of Connected Home over IP and IP-BLiS put Thread at the core of their implementation. Thread is a future-proof technology. Developers adopting it now should feel safe doing so in a world full of exponential growth and development.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we shop. Retailers have had to scale quickly to move shopping experiences online and keep customers safe, while still providing fast, convenient customer service. Leading retail technology and omnichannel expert and regular contributor to Forbes, Chris Walton, joined Loïc Oumier, Head of Operational & Digital Marketing and Communications at SES-imagotag, and Ross Sabolcik, VP and GM of Industrial and Commercial IoT Products at Silicon Labs for a webinar about how retailers are leveraging wireless technologies already well-established in the industrial space to deliver innovative and engaging customer experiences. Three key takeaways from the webinar are below.
#1: Physical stores must digitize.
Even though retailers are moving online, Chris explains that customers still want to be offered in-store experiences. To meet today's customer demands, retailers must transform their physical stores into true digital assets. Digitization provides multiple benefits to both customers and retailers, including the following:
Additionally, digitization brings all the advantages of e-commerce to the in-store experience, such as access to customer product ratings and reviews and accurate pricing and specification information. None of these options are available with paper label systems. By re-imagining the physical store as a blended solution of online and in-store services, retailers can provide customers with faster, safer and more convenient shopping experiences.
#2: Wireless IoT systems must be multi-value.
When deploying wireless IoT systems in retail, multi-value propositions are crucial. The cost of installing and maintaining a wireless infrastructure can be significant, so the infrastructure must be flexible and able to deploy multiple devices from one platform. Additionally, wireless systems should have more than one use case, benefitting the consumers coming into the store and enabling retail operators to be more efficient.
Electronic shelf labels (ESLs) are an example of a multi-value, multi-use wireless IoT system. ESLs offer all-around-the-store efficiency by providing customers with accurate pricing information and retailers with data capturing and asset tracking services. One of the greatest benefits of an ESL software system is its scalability. All the features of an ESL software system's services, beyond simple price display, can be enabled at a future time without adding infrastructure costs. Retailers should consider what type of capabilities they might want to unlock from a wireless system in the future and whether these features can be deployed from the same platform.
#3: A great customer experience is the omnichannel strategy bottom line.
"Omnichannel" is no longer just a technical term -- it's about customer service. The purpose of an omnichannel strategy is to make the shopping experience safer, more efficient and convenient for the customer, and smart technology makes all of this possible. With interconnected, smart retail systems in place, customers can choose how they want to interact with retailers, whenever and wherever they want.
Cloud commerce, data capture, and location analytics are the foundational components of an effective omnichannel strategy. By seamlessly combining these smart retail systems in holistic ways, retailers can deploy blended solutions that capture and analyze relevant data to anticipate customer needs and meet those demands.
We're Here to Help
As a leading provider of IoT technology, we are uniquely qualified to offer smart retail solutions. Watch the on-demand webinar here and learn more about our smart retail offerings by visiting our website.
Join Silicon Labs for our bi-monthly Power Hour webinar series, where our Power and Isolation experts will discuss trends, topics, and best practices across a wide range of applications. Our industry-leading portfolio of Power and Isolation products will also be featured, and you’ll learn how to utilize these tools to get the most from your designs and speed up time-to-market.
The first topic, Digital isolation 101, is scheduled for Wednesday, October 21, at 9:00 AM CST/16:00 CET. During this session, Senior Product Manager Charlie Ice and Applications Manager Keith Coffey will discuss how the automotive, industrial, and energy industries are being transformed, thanks to advanced digital isolation devices.
All Power Hour webinars are 45 minutes, with a live 15-minute Q&A session. You can sign up for all of the events, or individual sessions here.
|Digital Isolation 101 – Usage, Features, and Portfolio||Wednesday, October 21, 2020|
|IsoDriver 101 – Usage, Features, and Portfolio||Wednesday, November 4, 2020|
|Protecting 24 V Digital Outputs from the Unknown||Wednesday, November 18, 2020|
|IsoDrivers in High Power Inverter Systems||Wednesday, December 9, 2020|
|Powering the Future with PoE||Wednesday, January 13, 2021|
|Reducing Cost with Integrated Isolated Auxiliary Supplies||Wednesday, January 27, 2021|
|Isolated Gate Driver for Power Supply Applications||Wednesday, February 10, 2021|
|Isolated Signal Sensing||Wednesday, February 24, 2021|
|Factories are Dirty–Protecting Industrial PLC Inputs||Wednesday, March 10, 2021|
|Benefits of Functional Safety in Automotive Applications||Wednesday, March 25, 2021|
We’re looking forward to a season of virtual learning to close out 2020 and kick-off 2021, and we hope you’ll join us.
As the world becomes more connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), data security and privacy issues continue to grow more complex. IoT solutions providers need to take the proper steps to protect and secure against new and innovative attacks. Doing so is a must.
Silicon Labs is committed to working with the security community, our customers, and our industry to deliver state-of-the-art technology designed to help protect connected devices. To that end, we created Secure Vault: cutting-edge hardware and software dedicated to securing Internet of Things (IoT) devices against a wide variety of growing and evolving threats.
First launched in September in our Wireless Gecko Series 2 platform, Secure Vault already boasts third-party IoT security certifications from Arm’s PSA Certified program and the ioXt Alliance. Secure Vault features best-in-class security including secure boot based on hardware root of trust, secure debug, physical tamper, secure identity for attestation, and physically unclonable function (PUF) key management technology to significantly reduce the risk of IoT security breaches and compromised intellectual property. Market reception has been enthusiastic.
And now, Secure Vault has earned another significant feather for its cap, winning gold in this year’s LEAP (Leadership in Engineering Achievement Program) Awards Connectivity category. Recognizing Secure Vault as a “new contemporary solution to an ever-evolving problem,” the LEAP Awards’ independent judges panel of 14 engineering and academic professionals recognized just how far Silicon Labs has advanced connected privacy and security.
The annual LEAP Awards celebrate the most innovative and forward-thinking products serving the design engineering space. More than 100 entries were received for this annual competition, which honors the most innovative and forward-thinking products in design engineering.
In a webinar available on replay here, Mike Dow, Senior Product Manager of IoT Security, talks through how security threats have changed and escalated, focusing more than ever on IoT. In addition, government regulations like GDPR in Europe and SB-327 in California have recently been implemented to protect vulnerable data and privacy by placing more pressure on manufacturers to step up security best practices, such as security certifications for IoT devices.
Silicon Labs co-hosted a security regulations workshop with the ioXt Alliance during the 2020 Works With virtual smart home developer conference. The workshop explored the security regulatory landscape, how Secure Vault assists in meeting those regulations, and how the ioXt Alliance is addressing the need for uniform evaluation and certification of the security level of IoT products. A replay of that workshop is available here.
Election Day 2020 is a few weeks away, and early voting in some parts of the country has already begun. In addition to the widely covered presidential race, there are many important state and local races on the ballot. As part of our effort to build a smarter, more connected world, we are once again asking employees to do their civic duty and vote.
Throughout our company history, we have encouraged employees to get involved in their communities. In addition to volunteering, serving on boards, and donating to nonprofit organizations, voting is a crucial way to make an impact and ensure better representation and support for key community issues. To encourage employees to take time to vote, this year we are giving all U.S. employees a paid day off on November 3rd. As always, we recommend employees beat the rush and vote early, if they are able. Because there is an expected shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees who vote early and feel comfortable doing so may consider using the day off to serve as a poll worker. For our employees who aren’t U.S. citizens, and therefore aren’t able to vote or work the polls, we are asking them to help spread the word about voting to their friends and families.
We know it is our responsibility to be informed, engaged public citizens. In addition to sending voting reminders to employees, we are offering a range of info sessions about the issues that they’ll see on the ballot. At our Austin headquarters, we are hosting virtual sessions with Capital Metro to discuss the Austin transportation bond and Move Texas to share information about statewide races and how to get involved. We’ve compiled a list of resources on our intranet for each of our U.S. sites including voter registration deadlines, early voting dates, polling locations and more. To make it fun and connect with each other internally, we’re also promoting a #getoutthevote campaign on our internal social media channel where employees can share photos of themselves with their “I Voted” stickers.
It is up to all of us to keep our democracy alive by being actively engaged citizens. We are proud to do the right thing and encourage our team to #getoutthevote.
You're invited to attend the upcoming I've Registered to Vote, Now What? webinar hosted by MOVE Texas, Notley Tide & Silicon Labs on October 7th. Topics include:
Click here to sign up.
As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to modern, immersive user experiences – thanks to devices that employ sophisticated human-machine interface (HMI) designs. The same can’t be said, however, about devices used in industrial settings. One of the reasons for this lag is some significant design challenges facing developers. Standard-driven specifications, limitations on the physical size, and controls that may require being fitted to larger installations are a few of these obstacles. Added to these considerations, industrial devices are generally expected to maintain operation in environments where they are subjected to all kinds of stresses for years.
Bluetooth offers a compelling solution to these problems. This month, Silicon Labs is hosting a webinar exploring how it can be leveraged to improve security and reliability and simplify the development process. Silicon Labs Senior Product Managers Parker Dorris and Mikko Niemi will be hosting AMER and EMEA sessions on Wednesday, October 14th at 11 AM CDT and Thursday, October 15th at 3 PM CET, respectively. Senior Field Applications Engineer Aki Mizutani will be hosting a session for Japan on Wednesday, October 28 at 10 AM. They’ll walk through the advantages of Bluetooth and how it can improve future-proofing, security, and reliability. Additionally, they’ll cover how to simplify your Bluetooth design with preprogrammed modules and introduce our latest Xpress module.
Retailers are under more competitive pressure than ever. Faced with escalating shopper expectations and competing for in-store business against the convenience of online browsing, innovating on ways to bring omnichannel experiences to customers is critical. How retail companies harness connectivity to deliver new and engaging experiences will determine how well their brands adapt to the changing landscape. On October 7th, we’re bringing together two of the leading minds in retail to explore some of these challenges.
We're excited to join our friends at Arrow in hosting a conversation on smart retail technology with industry experts Chris Walton and Loïc Oumier. Chris is the former Vice President of Merchandising for home furnishings at Target.com and today serves as the CEO of retail blog Omni Talk. He’s also a regular Forbes contributor where he writes about retail trends and technology. Loïc is head of Operational & Digital Marketing and Communications at SES-imagotag, a global leader in Electronic Shelf Labels and Retail IoT solutions provider.
During this webinar you’ll learn about:
Loïc and Chris will be joined by Silicon Labs’ VP and GM of Industrial and Commercial IoT Products, Ross Sabolcik, and the 1-hour webinar will be moderated by Silicon Labs’ CMO, Megan Lueders. The webinar will be followed by a live Q&A session. Register for the event here.
On September 29th, Silicon Labs promoted Serena Townsend to be our new Chief People Officer. In this role, Townsend is now responsible for the company's global talent strategy, people programs, and values-driven, inclusive culture. Serena joined Silicon Labs in February 2017 as director, HR business partners and was promoted to vice president, HR business partners in March 2020. She has held various HR leadership positions at companies including Samsung Austin Semiconductor and HomeAway (Expedia). Serena deeply believes in giving back to the community and actively volunteers for organizations including Crossing Thresholds and Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas.
I spoke with Serena to get her thoughts on a variety of topics, and that discussion is reflected in the Q&A below.
MS: Congratulations on the new role, Serena! You’ve been at Silicon Labs for several years now. How would you describe our company culture?
ST: We have a deeply curious organization. Solving complex problems is a competitive sport for us and a part of our DNA. We’re proud of our heritage of innovation but we never rest on our laurels. There’s a drive and ambition central to the culture here that’s exciting to be a part of. While we are an engineering-led business at heart, we care not only about making great products but also about the positive impact they can and do have in our world. Making our world a better place is a really inspiring and motivating concept within our culture and helps bring everyone together – engineers and non-engineers alike.
One of the biggest things that attracted me to Silicon Labs in the first place is the company’s values and ethical compass. Our commitment to giving back to our communities, being a great place to work, and “doing the right thing” resonate with me personally. It’s important that the values of where I work mesh with my own guiding principles, and that’s certainly the case at Silicon Labs.
I’d also like to point out Silicon Labs’ commitment to an inclusive workplace. This is not a quick fix, but a long-term investment to create a global culture of belonging where everyone can thrive, exchange ideas, and innovate together. I grew up internationally and have been lucky enough to experience diversity of culture and thought from an early age, and I’m so excited to be part of this effort.
MS: What’s it like to be a non-engineer in an engineering culture, and what do you bring from outside of engineering that contributes?
ST: Pretty obvious I’m not the engineer in the room. I’m not going to out-math or out-design the engineers I work with. They know and appreciate that I bring a completely different perspective to the table. Diversity of experience and perspective is a strength, and I try really hard to bring unique value by looking at challenges through a people lens first and foremost. I’m happy to say that – since day one – that perspective I bring has been welcome at Silicon Labs, and a big part of the responsibility I bring to my seat at the executive table is to represent the human needs of our global workforce.
MS: What are your main priorities as Chief People Officer and how will you measure success?
ST: Generally, my role as Chief People Officer, and really the role of anyone leading people, is to enable business, people, and culture. I must be in-tune with Silicon Labs strategy, know our products and markets, understand the needs and concerns of our teams, and align our people programs to fit. I believe culture is built through a thousand small deliberate acts that influence and impact others. We can build great programs, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Building culture is on all of us.
Success means that employees feel supported and valued, are doing their best work, and that we are achieving our company goals. In a typical year, we measure that in many ways, ranging from employee engagement scores to attrition percentages.
This isn’t a typical year, of course. In 2020 our focus has been solely on taking care of our people, and that includes taking care of the caretakers – ensuring our essential workers and support organizations (including our People team) are healthy so that they can support our workforce at large. We’ve taken a very flexible and personalized approach to it all.
MS: No doubt, COVID-19 presented some very unique challenges for you and your team as you provided continued support to our people through an unprecedented time. Can you share a little more about that, and what changes to work at Silicon Labs triggered by the pandemic that may ultimately be long-term?
ST: For sure, a big focus has been on wellness. The mental, emotional, and physical well-being of our workforce is a top priority for the People team and everyone who manages people at Silicon Labs.
As you might suspect, there is no playbook for how to do HR in a global pandemic. Our workforce relied on us to figure out what happened next in an environment where people’s health was on the line across a number of global sites.
We quickly formed a cross-functional global COVID-19 Response Team (CRT), which includes our COVID Taskforce in our Austin headquarters, our Global Site Health Leaders (GSHL), and key individuals from our offices around the world to ensure the right measures at the right sites happen at the right time. This approach proved highly effective in handling curveballs coming our way and witnessing the level of care and urgency of each site team has been truly inspiring.
We of course had to quickly pivot every people program to remote delivery. Recruiting, training, onboarding and so forth – it all had to turn on a dime to virtual. We were about to welcome over 100 interns into our global offices and that needed a quick and creative overhaul. We are fortunate to have very skilled, very innovative people who were able to make the move to virtual in a people-first way.
In general, our rapid transition to virtual and remote has helped challenge some of the pre-pandemic norms, assumptions, and beliefs about the effectiveness of in-person vs virtual engagement, and some of these changes will be long-lasting. Virtual meetings and trainings are prime examples, as this has led to more accessibility and created a level playing field for all attendees.
As I mentioned before, we are a deeply curious culture so we always look for opportunities to learn and evolve. COVID-19 is certainly a teachable moment for us all.
MS: You have managed some pretty complex onboarding from acquisitions, most recently Redpine. What are the most challenging aspects of onboarding large numbers of employees in other parts of the world, and what wisdom can you share with other HR professionals from that experience?
ST: I’ve learned that every acquisition is unique, so you have to check your assumptions at the door. You can’t assume something that worked well in a previous acquisition will work well in the next one.
In terms of wisdom to share, it definitely takes a village to do acquisition work: you have to have close collaboration, clear swim lanes, and mutual trust with all of your internal partner teams to orchestrate a complex integration. Early engagement with the acquired leadership team is key to success. When you have both teams working together, aligned on milestones, and leading through change, the entire process is so much smoother. Establishing a baseline early of trust, mutual respect and teamwork is crucial. Our philosophy in acquisitions is that we can learn as much from them as they can learn from us, so let’s be open-minded and collaborative throughout.
There are always things that happen along the way that you don’t expect, that can be difficult, and having that baseline of trust, respect, and teamwork makes a real difference in those situations.
Lastly, the work to support acquisitions doesn’t end on day one. It takes a year to 18 months of very disciplined, thoughtful, targeted work to get teams integrated and thriving. That may be an eye-opener to those who haven’t done an acquisition yet.
MS: Serena, thanks for taking the time to talk. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
ST: I want to take a moment to recognize my predecessor, Lori Knowlton. I worked with Lori for many years, and I respect her deeply. She’s been a great coach, cheerleader, and advocate for this team and she’s helped prepare me to step into this role and do it successfully. I know I speak not just for myself and the People Team, but everyone at Silicon Labs when I express deep thanks to Lori for all she did during her tenure here.
Through Lori’s efforts leading the People team, we have formed strong partnerships with our business groups. We are collaborating and innovating in new ways, unlocking potential that’s really starting to pay off. That’s extremely rewarding, and I look forward to continuing on this path with our team.