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In S2 episode 22, Eric Hewitson – Business Development Manager, Wyld Networks connects with us to tell us how Wyld are solving key connectivity issues in even the most remote corners of the globe through low earth orbit satellite technology 🛰️ 🌎 and how they are improving sustainability for customers♻️🌱.

Sit back relax, tune in and be the first to discover…

  • Eric’s background in IoT 00:00-02:13 🛰️
  • What Wyld Networks is doing in the connectivity world 02:13-03:49 🛰️
  • How is Wyld solving key connectivity problems by extending terrestrial network reach? 03:49-05:37 🛰️
  • What are the key industries benefitting from low search orbit satellites? 05:37-07:02 🛰️
  • How is Wyld using these low earth orbit satellites to democratise data and improve sustainability? 07:02-11:30 🛰️
  • What challenges have you faced on this IoT journey? 11:30-13:13 🛰️
  • What’s next for Wyld and how much more potential is there for the technology? 13:13-17:40
  • And much more!

ABOUT THE GUESTS

Eric Hewitson is the Business Development Manager at Wyld Networks, enabling low power, low-cost global connectivity for the Internet of Things via low earth orbit satellites using LoRa protocol.

Eric is an experienced hardware, software and SaaS business development manager. He has worked on mobile mesh networks and LPWAN solutions for the IoT including direct sensor to satellite LoRaWAN. Projects he has been involved with include agritech, utility metering, maritime and environment.

Connect with Eric – Here

Find out more about Wyld Networks – Here

Episode Transcript

Brad King-Taylor
Hello, and welcome to the IoT podcast. I’m your host for today Brad King-Taylor. I’m the Head of Embedded IoT for Paratus People in the UK. Today, I’m delighted to welcome from Wyld Networks, Eric Hewitson, who is the SVP of Business Development and Strategy. Eric, welcome. Thank you very much. How are you today?

Eric Hewitson
I’m very well, great to be here.

Brad King-Taylor
Good to have you. Normally, we have to do this on teams or, or something like that. So it’s nice to have- well we had a conversation before we went on here didn’t we about the dreaded. So it’s nice to be able to do face to face again. Absolutely. Absolute Good, good. Well, I’ll tell you what let’s kick things straight off. So can you introduce your background to IoT give us a little bit of an insight into what wild networks are? How you ended up in, in this work crazy world? If you like?

Eric Hewitson
Yeah, sure. So I probably come out of a, you know, a SaaS business development sort of area. Originally, I joined Wyld in 2018. And yeah, but that was my sort of first real entry into the world of the IoT.

Brad King-Taylor
Okay, perfect. And what so what did you do before Wyld?

Eric Hewitson
So before before Wyld, I was in, I worked with Fairfax Media. So working in, in sort of media properties, etc, that sort of thing? In in the technical space still. So that’s where I met one of our one of our founders, Jean Meyers, right. Okay. We were working on something together in the transportation space, with some technology had, which is then developed into to what we are now.

Brad King-Taylor
Perfect. And I suppose that leads us directly on to the next question, which will be good for the listeners is to get a bit more of an understanding of who Wyld Networks are what you do I suppose in the easiest way.

Eric Hewitson
So I guess, I guess the history of Wyld is that we come out of the utility space in the terrestrial kind of connectivity. LPWAN connectivity for the internet of things. So originally, we were we were doing LoRaWAN connectivity for utility metering. And we’ve got about half a million connected devices out in the world walk or I should say, sort of, at least that have our firmware, our software, we have a particularly we have a software stack called try IoT, which connects LoRA, LoRaWAN and wireless m-bus. And that enabled us to enable our customers to solve some of the big problems they were having connecting connecting their networks. And we did various other things in the sort of the IoT, terrestrial IoT space. And then a couple of years ago, we were we were partnered with Eutelsat. Okay. Eutelsat, obviously looking to in one of the world’s big satellite providers, and they’re putting up a low Earth orbiting network of satellites to specifically to connect the Internet of Things and get that global coverage.

Brad King-Taylor
Yeah. So I mean, I kind of bounced it on to, to where we were looking at. So obviously, we’re fast growing sector at the moment coming out of a mad two years with COVID, and that sort of thing. It’s all been quite quiet. And you mentioned a couple of things about connected devices. And I know that the billions of IoT things globally at the moment, but cellular only really covers 15% of the Earth’s surface, which obviously, you are well aware of. So it’s good, be good to get an understanding of how well networks are solving that kind of connectivity problem by using the terrestrial low orbit satellites and the network reach. So what is it that you’re specifically working on?

Eric Hewitson
Yeah, so I think I think that the key to it for us is that we were we were looking at this world of LoRaWAN networks, LPWAN networks that are out there lots of devices already connecting up people setting up private networks on public net LoRaWAN networks in some countries are doing that really well. Some not doing it so well. And we thought, well, this is this is great. But is it ever going to get all the way across the globe? Is it ever going to solve those problems of you know, I’ve got a farm in the metro Grotto in Brazil, that’s probably never going to get cellular connectivity. Yeah, well, not for you know, maybe not for a long time or maybe never at all, you know, right across the world, whether it’s agricultural, whether it’s you know, energy, whether it’s environmental monitoring these places that are remote, it’s always going to be tricky to get that that sort of data off it off. So I think that’s what We were looking at is how can we connect into that world where there is connection where there are networks already, and then supplement that with the addition of connectivity via low Earth orbit satellites. So what what we’ve essentially done is created a LoRaWAN connectivity that will go to the terrestrial network to address your gateway if it’s available. And if not, it’ll go to satellite. And in in that way, you are giving yourself 100% connectivity 100% global connectivity, right across oceans, land and oceans. And and it kind of immediately solves that problem of how do I get data from those remote locations?

Brad King-Taylor
Yeah, which is fantastic. And I think one of the main, obviously, the one of the main things you’re focused on, you’ve mentioned it a couple of times is, is the low orbit satellites. One question is, you mentioned a couple of areas agritech, that sort of thing. Is there a specific part of the technology world at the moment that is really, really benefiting from your your technology at the moment? Is it agritech, for instance?

Eric Hewitson
Well, I think yeah, there’s a few sectors, there’s agriculture definitely is probably the the first and foremost one. And it’s certainly the one I know most about as well, because it’s the one I’ve been most involved with, but but the energy sector to and by that, really, I mean, there’s sort of the infrastructure for energy. So the, you know, the pipeline infrastructure monitoring that any assets that are in remote locations, and of course, there’s lots of that. And there’s lots of sustainability questions around that. The logistics world as well. So you know, moving goods, and the classic example is the container as it goes from on its long journey around the world going in and out, in and out of forms of connectivity. How do we manage it when it’s outside of the range of something or where something fails? Some other kind of network fails? How can how can you support that? And then I think that the fourth one would be sort of utilities as well. So I think there’s still a really important space for us. And probably a fifth one actually, will be environment, environmental monitoring.

Brad King-Taylor
Perfect. Okay. So with everything that we’ve gone through so far, your technology, how it’s used in in agricultural and that sort of stuff, there’s always going to be a couple of questions that it’s going to come from the listener, it’s going to come from the normal people. So affordability is going to be one of them. It’s always a key consideration when it comes to scalable solutions. So how a wild using these low orbit satellites to democratise data at the moment and spread that around?

Eric Hewitson
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I think I think first point is to look at what’s what’s actually happening prior to, to the advent of low Earth orbiting satellites. And the answer was, you could still get data from remote locations, but you’re going to have to use vSAT, or you’re gonna have to use all of the solutions that you can potentially use the high power, they’re high cost, the data is going to be high cost. And they come with a set of problems, they can be brilliant for solving certain things, especially if it’s high data rates. But they’re not ideal for that sort of low data rate, that low data collection piece, which is where we think we can we can really add value to the world so.

Eric Hewitson
So I think, yeah, that idea of getting out to the, to the whole world at low power and low cost. Well, the low power part is, you know, is absolutely crucial if you’re going to try and measure soil moisture in a remote rural location, or your weather or you’re checking pressure on on a valve on a piece of pipe line, that somewhere in the middle of nowhere, you don’t want to have to supply the power to that you want it to be sort of able to just lock it and leave it, it sends the data, you don’t have to worry about it. So it’s got to run on a couple of double A batteries or the equivalent to be able to do that. And that’s the sort of world we’re in. So we’re not in a world of of really high volumes of data. This is low volumes of data, what’s the temperature? What’s the time? Where am I located? You know, and can I send that just every hour or every every day or whatever it is? So mostly, you only need that sort of information once a day, once a day? Yeah, it’s plenty. Yeah. In most cases,

Brad King-Taylor
Sometimes when you do target on something quite small, you gain a lot of information. Right. So exactly right. And I think yeah, that’s key. So on top of moving on from the affordability. So I think you’ve mentioned it a couple of times, we’ve just used a couple of double A batteries, for instance. So the other big, big area of focus at the moment with a lot of people is sustainability. So it’d be good to get more of an understanding on what Wyld are doing with their technology, because it’s quite large technology, focusing on a lot of areas. What are you doing at the moment to to give sustainability to your customers?

Eric Hewitson
Yeah, yeah. Well, I think I think if we take the agricultural sector as the first point, you know, by getting at the moment, it’s a highly on digitised space. I mean, there is very little data in a way it’s coming out of most sort of fields and most farms. It’s hard to get data out of a farm. It’s hard to get data out of soil. It’s hard to get data out of plants. You know, these, these are not easy things to do. There’s a growing network of brilliant sensor manufacturers who are coming up with the most fantastic technologies that can do these things. But how do you get the data off them in remote these, you know, across these great expanses of land, it’s really tricky to do that at low costs.

Eric Hewitson
So that’s where we based basically come in by, by by, by getting, getting access to that technology, I’ve completely lost what the question was sustainability. Sustainability thats right, so I think there are three key key things for agricultural sustainability. You know, the the first is trying to reduce the amount of inputs you’re putting in. So you know, can reduce my, the amount of water I’m putting in which water is is terribly, terribly valuable commodity and right across the world, but particularly in certain parts of the world where it’s really crucial, then I can reduce the, you know, the fertiliser, reduce the the pesticides, these sorts of things. Can I increase my yield, you know, by by the, by better, but better timing, you know, better use of that the inputs that I’m putting in, and obviously come I think adds quality to the environment, quality to the living environment around them, by by doing those things. If I know what’s going on, it’s always going to be a lot a lot easier to do that.

Brad King-Taylor
Yeah, but which is brilliant. I think, just from touching on what you’ve mentioned a couple of times, I think the the way that while the attack is an affordability, attack, tackling sustainability, I think you’re doing some very impressive stuff. Now, obviously, it’s not always green. So I’d be keen to get a bit of an understanding of obviously, like I said, what you’re doing is you’re achieving some faster, fantastic things at the moment. What are the challenges that you you’ve come across as a company? And have you managed to tackle them? Or are you still trying to work against certain aspects of difficulties if you’d like?

Eric Hewitson
Yeah, well, I think I think probably our biggest challenge over the last couple of years has been how do we manage power? So I mean, I’ve talked about, yes, we’ve got it down to this really low power situation. And that’s, of course, because of the wonderful nature of LoRaWAN in the first place being this low wage, low energy RF solution. But we’ve also developed a beaconing system with util SATs, so we’re able to sort of wake up our devices, at the point when they need to send the device because a lot of satellite is, is rotating around the Earth, you have to wait for it to come overhead before you can send something to it. But you don’t want to be doing that all the time pointlessly. So we’ve developed a beaconing system for that, which is which is dramatically changed how we can manage the power in the in the devices. So I think that’s that’s an ongoing challenge. It’s something we’ve mastered, but it’s going to be an ongoing challenge to continue to, to be able to provide that that low power resource.

Brad King-Taylor
Yeah, superb. And I think power does come into a lot of lot of companies challenges. So I mean, it’s brilliant to hear that you’re, you’re, you’re looking at these challenges, and you’re tackling them head on, you’ve come up with something quite brilliant to to counteract that. What’s next, what’s next a wild what’s next, in terms of the technology that you’re using? Partnerships, you’ve mentioned a couple of times your partnerships that seem to be overcoming a lot of stuff you’re doing. So yeah, it just be good to understand with you facing those challenges and and overcoming them. What, what, what’s next, Where can this technology go?

Eric Hewitson
Well, I think I think the key for wild is we’re that we’re a comic, we’re connectivity specialists. So so what we’re doing is we’re, we’re focusing on that connectivity piece we’re not, there’s a whole world of sensor manufacturers out there, we can never be all of those sets of data, we do have a few sensors that we build ourselves, but but there’s there’s there’s literally 10s of 1000s. So it’s how do we get into all of those sensors to enable all of those companies to be able to access their data from these new locations and get themselves new markets and digitise industries in a way that they just haven’t been able to do before. And the only way really, for us to do that is to is to embed our technology into those, those those sensors. So that’s, that’s what we’re really focused on at the moment is getting our module embedded into the sensors of manufacturers. It’s it’s, it’s a challenge. Definitely, yeah. But it’s going to provide tremendous new market opportunity for our for our customers if they if they do do that.

Brad King-Taylor
Yeah. I mean, you’ve touched on it, there are billions of connected devices, but there’s never been a straightforward way to connect them all. I mean, you start hearing about different technologies like edge computing that sort of thing coming in to try and branch that out. So what what is what is what is next what is there anything in the pipeline new you might be able to share or not share?

Eric Hewitson
Well, one thing I haven’t really talked about is the data side of things. Yeah, that’s really important. So chain and what happens to the data when it’s collected by satellite? Well, it comes back down to comes back down to earth. Come In through our software platform called Wyld fusion. Okay, so we managed to manage the data, then from there, you know, push data out to where ever our customers want it. We’re also not a, you know, 1000 different types of platform analytics platform for all these different industries out there, we can’t be that, you know, there are lots of people who are specialising in lots of different areas that do that, you know, in the areas we’ve discussed, agriculture, energy, etc. They’ll have their own way that ways of wanting it, they just need the data. So we’re just providing this. So while fusion will provide that data to them really, really, really easily.

Eric Hewitson
And I think the other part we is, you know, the data is low cost, it’s not going to be high cost data. In terms of, you know, things we’re working on at the moment, I mean, a couple of examples we’re working with, with bear. Oh, okay. In the USA, we’re doing, we’re doing a wonderful project with them in the pollination sector. So getting data from beehives, since we build a lead sensor for a bee hive. And we’re combining that with other sensor data that they’ve got white hive, weight, Hive, temperature and humidity and all of that data going up via satellite. Okay. And then back into their, into their platform. So they can, yeah, the ones news app. I mean, that’s that’s one example. But yeah, we’re working in the energy sector. I can’t really speak about too much.

Brad King-Taylor
On the podcast, yeah. Yeah. So they want to say something but think actually I better not.

Eric Hewitson
But yeah, but we’ve got I think we’ve got something like 30 or 40 trials that are either either started already or running, running already, we’ll have a full commercial service in the second half of this year.

Brad King-Taylor
You grown quite quickly, then by the sounds of it. I mean, the partnership with Bayer alone is, yeah, huge, massive congratulations on that, because they’re a great company. So is there anything else you want to add on anything that we’ve touched on? So far? Anything in particular that you want to mention? It’s not been brought up yet?

Eric Hewitson
No, I think that’s, that’s, you know, I think there’s a lot of excitement in the IoT space, there has been for a long time. But I think we are now at that sort of point where the, you know, the connection between the ability to get data, the sense is being built, and, and the desire in the market to get that data from the from the field from wherever they’re from, they’re working from, has really got to, you know, the matching beautifully at the moment. Yeah, it’s just a really, it’s an explosive time in the IoT world.

Brad King-Taylor
It really is an explosive time in the IoT world. Glad you said that. Because it links really well to the next part. So one thing that we do is we ask our previous guests to put across a question to you. And he would like to ask you, Eric, from your perspective, how is the competition in IoT and the industry? You serve changed over the past few years that you’ve been in it?

Eric Hewitson
Well, I think I think there’s been there’s been a big a big change from our perspective, obviously, is the fact that that there is now the capability to get data from, from the world via via via satellite at low cost and low power. And that really has is game changing. I think for the for the IoT world. It’s, you know, to two years ago, there were lots of new technologies coming on board. But there was this frustration of I’ve got to make, you know, I’ve got to support a local area network, I’ve got to have a gateway, I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t fall over this, that when you go directly from the census straight to the to a satellite, you sort of solve that problem. And I think, you know, that’s, that’s what’s really the big change that’s happened. It’s been happening for the last year and a half, you know, with with ourselves and others. And I think that’s really going to dramatically change things over the next few years.

Brad King-Taylor
Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that’s coming in, that’s going to dramatically change everything of 5g years. Yeah. Change the whole world, which I think the metaverse obviously is talking about, yeah, there’s going to be a lot of technologies. I think it’s going to change everything. But I think the very exciting thing is you touched on it is most of the time when a company hits a challenge or something comes up. Something can be bought out or developed or worked on to overcome the challenges. Yeah, it’s just how long are the timescales of we’ve got the manpower, we’ve got the money to do it all. So yeah, no, brilliant. Eric, look, it’s been. It’s been fantastic. It’s been a pleasure. Like I said, if there’s anything else you want to add, we will be getting the question from you for the next guest. Other than that, thank you so much for joining us and in person as well. Yeah, no, it’s good. Did it take you to get here?

Eric Hewitson
It took me an hour and a half from London. It’s been an absolute pleasure to meet you all. And, you know, really, really appreciate it. And thanks very much for having having more wild on you.

Brad King-Taylor
That absolute pleasure. I’m sure there’ll be three love by the way, there’ll be a future. Well, thank you very much. Because before we went on, you were mentioning how you actually listen to the podcast and everything as well. So it’s good to hear, hey, I think it’s doing a lot. And that’s what’s great quality

Eric Hewitson
we need. It’s exactly what we need.

Brad King-Taylor
Yeah, and that’s While you’re here, because I think while they’re up to at the moment is super open, I think it’s going to change a lot of a lot of life. I mean, we do have agritech team and they’re speaking to companies all the time that have got specific challenges with connectivity being one. So yeah, I think you want to like think so. So thank you so much. Where can we find out more about worlds? Where can we find out more about yourself? You’ve got socials and yeah,

Eric Hewitson
yeah, absolutely. So wild. networks.com is the first stop if that’s our website, and we’re on LinkedIn, and Twitter, and YouTube. So at Wild networks, within wild networks on YouTube, you should see a few videos.

Brad King-Taylor
Perfect. Pleasure to meet you. Likewise. And until next time, fantastic. Thanks, guys. Please make sure you subscribe to the IoT podcast, please leave a comment and a like it will give us the best opportunity to supply the content you love. I don’t care how you’re connected, as long as you’re connected. We’ll see you next time. Thank you so much.

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