Looking back at 2018

Following the largely positive feedback I got on my “yearly update” email last year, I decided to repeat the exercise. But given I set up a new web presence meanwhile, I also decided to publish it here.

What has Siegfried done in 2018 … professionally?

One year ago I wrote in my “new years resolutions” that 2018 would be all about the transformation of Technicolor’s operating model with the then intended sale of the patent licensing operations. Here’s what happened. On 1st of March 2018 Technicolor announced that the patent licensing business was sold to Interdigital. It was also announced that, as part of this deal, we were entering a funded research cooperation agreement under which InterDigital Labs and Technicolor R&I Lab collaborate in the development of research programs in the areas of video coding, connected home and immersive technologies. We then spent most of the remainder of 2018 on filling that partnership with life. Lot’s of meetings, discussions, and mutual exploration between the two companies resulted in a great new project portfolio. At the MWC in Barcelona, some of the very first results are shown on the Interdigital booth (see this announcement). And now just a week ago we finally announced that Interdigital was also going to acquire the full R&I organisation of Technicolor. So much more change to come!

In 2018, I worked on connecting our research and innovation teams to the open innovation ecosystem around us via additional partnerships. As a German living in Paris, I am still amazed by all the creativity in the French Innovation ecosystem: There’s so much going on, in particular in the Paris and Rennes areas, where startups and public research are booming. It’s not only the startups, but also the whole innovation ecosystem around them that is extremely creative and fast moving.

For Technicolor R&I, we decided to join a consortium for building the first european AI platform: The AI4EU european research project is a huge consortium (79 partners!) to build a european platform for AI. This is so far the only major research initiative that the EU is funding in this domain which is so important for the future of european research, and is considered as ground layer for significant additional investments and developments of research&innovation are expected in the coming years. I’m eager to see how it will evolve. It was key to be part of the journey from the start.

AI is also definitely a key topic for innovations not only in the movie industry, where for example facial animation and natural language processing will in the future allow to provide translated versions of advertisements and movies where the correlation of lips/facial expressions and the translated speech will not look awkward any more. We also looked at AI in the field of connected home and even in manufacturing and operations management.

Besides that, for our industry, 2018 was the year that brought us the MLCC crisis. One year ago most of us didn’t know what an MLCC was (hint: it’s a multi-layer-ceramic-capacitor… you know these tiny black things that you find all over a PCB… costs almost nothing, but without them your circuit doesn’t work). in 2018 these made a big impact on the bottom line. Some big M&A happened around us too: Github was acquired by Microsoft, and Commscope bought Arris, the market leader in connected home just before Technicolor… 

… and beyond work ?

On the family side… our three girls are growing up fast, now 4, 6 and 8 years old. We were lucky to have two really nice vacation trips in 2018, first to Switzerland (Jaun) for one week of Ski, well, mainly one week of ski courses for the girls of course, then in summer one week of hiking in the southern alps near Briancon. We even did some real camping in a tent, which was a fun experience, with just the amount of rain required to make it authentic. 

I also could spend a bit more time on catching up with Technology.  I continued to develop my knowledge on IoT solutions. I learned how to use docker containers on embedded Linux devices, I integrated voice assistants into my connected home,  and I set up MQTT based solutions to interconnect all the wireless sensors and smart appliances, in particular some self-built lamps. It was both fun and amazing to see how much impact microservices architectures and containers have even on solutions that are really close to hardware and where you would not really have expected this. ( In my opinion, docker and kubernetes are major game changers to our industry, at least to the same extent as AI is. )

For some reason I (and honestly I still don’t understand them) 2018 was a year of stuff breaking. Therefore, 2018 was also a year in which I repaired a lot of things, which is really a great way to learn. Looking back and reflecting on the past year, I must say that it’s interesting to realise how many of the devices broke had a faulty battery charging logic/power supply issue: Kärcher Window cleaner, a Macbook, a Bosch Ixo screwdriver and an iRobot Roomba. Next time I will buy battery-free apparel whenever I can. But also many other things that broke down and which I could repair, like the Jura coffee machine (requires permanent babysitting), the oven, and the washing machine (which had lost its belt). Repairing so much of it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing Aliexpress website, which provides solutions for even the strangest of spare part needs and for almost no money. Overall, a nice learning experience.

Besides repairing stuff, the new products and technologies I learned to master in 2018 ranged from small devices ( MQTT Sonoff switches and the ESP8266 platforms, Shelly smarthome, Google Assistant and Alexa, Raspberry Pi 3b plus and Pi Zero W, MotionEye ) over enabling mechanisms ( Docker, Kubernetes ) and communication solutions ( OpenVPN, OVH’s VPS platform, Nextcloud, iptables (sigh, that one is actually still painful)  and still waiting for the cool modular TurrisMOX modular open source router on which I am an early funder over Indiegogo ). Still ongoing is a project to control our (awful) electric heating system using OpenHAB and HomeAssistant, given that the Nest Thermostat we had in our own place can’t be used in such a decentralized deployment. I also decided that enough was enough and with Apple’s mobile phone prices exceeding 1000 Euro I really wanted to switch back to Android. 
Finally I also enjoyed doing some wood-work with the innovative Bosch AdvancedCut 50 nanoblade micro-chain-saw, which in my opinion should get a special award for the most “out of the box” innovation of 2018. I built a number of lamps in our apartment, including the long awaited electrification of some traditional lamps from Morocco that were thought to be equipped with candles than can now be switched on/off via voice control and presence detection 🙂

In December 2018, Technicolor moved offices. The new headquarter is now right in the middle of Paris, just next to “Hotel de Ville” and “Centre Pompidou”, in a prestigious building that has been completely transformed to adopt the needs of the company, in particular for it’s film, TV and advertisement production services businesses. The connected home team has moved to a dedicated site also in the heart of Paris. The nicest thing for me about this new office is to cross the center or Paris by foot in the morning: Walking through Cimetiere de Montparnasse, Luxembourg Gardens, Quartier Latin, Notre Dame and finally crossing the Seine river to arrive at Rue du Renard is almost like a “45 minute mini vacation” every morning. 

I will be happy to keep in touch with you in the coming months and would love to hear back from you on how you are doing.

Best regards,

NEW OFFICE ADDRESS: 8-10 Rue du Renard, 75004 Paris, France

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