Financial Times Europe - 23.09.2019

(Kiana) #1
10 ★ Monday23 September 2019


How Apple’s ultra-wideband chip could transform

its products into ‘amazing new capabilities’

Apple barely mentioned theiPhone 11
Pro’s biggest technical innovation when
it unveiled its latest smartphones
earlier this month.
While some new features such as
triple-cameras and longer-lasting
batteries are already found in rival
devices, the iPhone 11 Pro is the very
first smartphone to include an ultra-
wideband chip. This wireless
technology is little known but holds
huge potential for the smart home,
security,augmented reality nda
UWB is similar to WiFi or Bluetooth
in its ability to transmit data quickly
between nearby devices. But it is
particularly interesting for its ability to
pinpoint a device’s location to within a
few centimetres — like GPS but much
more precise.
So far, Apple has said only that its
new UWB-based U1 chip will give
AirDrop, its wireless file transfer
system, “spatial awareness”
capabilities, so it can understand
whose iPhone you are pointing at.
That seems a pretty trivial reason to
include an entirely new component,
suggesting Apple has more ambitious
plans for its U1 chip.
UWB can track proximity to around
20cm by measuring the time it takes
for a radio signal to pass between two
connected devices.While it is slower
than WiFi, UWB s much faster thani
Bluetooth. It is also less vulnerable to
interference,as its signals can pass
more easily through our bodies or the
walls of a room.
“It’s like a very short-range radar,”
said Lars Reger, chief technology
officer at chipmaker NXP, which sells
UWB chips.
This could all make UWB much
better for finding lost keys or wallets
using tags such as the Bluetooth-based
Tile. Code discovered in Apple software
suggests the iPhone maker is
developing a Tile-like tracking tag of
its own.
Despite Apple’s sudden interest in it,
UWB is not a new technology. Today it
is primarily used in industrial settings,
such as tracking forklifts and pallets
around a warehouse or factory.
There are also a few early examples
of it being used by consumers. Locatify,

a start-up from Iceland, scatters UWB
“beacons” or “anchors” around
museums to guide tourists around the
exhibits ia a special donglev on their
smartphone or tablet. (Locatify says it
has also strapped tracking tags to
chickens in tiny backpacks to track
them around a farm in Ireland.)
The high price of UWB chips — as
much as $20 apiece — has made it less
appealing for smartphone makers to
build them into their devices. When
the tech industry rallied behind
Bluetooth and WiFi, the cost of those
components fell rapidly, while UWB
missed out.
Broader adoption in consumer
electronics promises to bring the
volumes that will bring prices down.
Apple’s smartphone rival Samsung is a
member of theUWB consortium Fira,
which suggests it may soon build it into
its own products.
The automotive industry is already
working with NXP to explore using
UWB as a more secure alternative to
Bluetooth for wireless car keys. That
concept could also apply to any other
kind of key, from front door locks to a
security system.
“UWB chips are very small,” said Mr
Reger. “You can integrate it
everywhere a battery is.”
Apple’spatent filings uggest thats
it has explored using UWB around the
home, perhaps as part of its HomeKit
system. Illustrations of its ideas show
UWB connecting an iPhone to door
locks, thermostats and even a dog
Eventually, UWB could play a role in
Apple’s forthcomingsmart glasses,
such as forming a wireless tether
between iPhone and headset.
If an iPhone, glasses and Apple
Watch all contained a U1 chip,
understanding their position in
relation to each other could allow the
wearer to control the virtual objects
they see with subtle hand or head
For now that is all speculation, but
Apple is teasing greater things.
“It’s like adding another sense to
iPhone,” Apple says of the U1 chip in its
marketing pages or the iPhone 11 Pro,f
“and it’s going to lead to amazing new

Wireless positioning
technology is little

known but holds
huge potential

Tim Bradshaw


the right “northstar” to focus on.
in enough detail. “When you’re staring
at a lot of data, in order to simplify it
people tend to aggregate it,” she says.
“Aggregate data points are very danger-
ous, they can be very pernicious.” That
makes it essential to unpick the number
to get a true picture of the dynamics of
Ms Tejada returned to Silicon Valley
in 2013, after a stint in Australia. Faced
with breaking into a male-dominated
sector, sheset out to build the relation-
ships she would need to make it in the
hyperconnected local tech world.She
studied what she needed to do to
become part of “the fabric of things”,
thenfound sponsors who would pro-
She believes the tech industry isopen
to change nd eager to bring in thea
women and minorities who have been
heavily under-represented. But change
won’t come quickly. The menwho con-
trol he purse strings haven’t workedt

out how to bring in people who aren’t
like them, she says, since that would
mean taking a leap into the unknown,
Ms Tejada calls it an “equity problem”
and a “social justice problem” for the
industry. “The way you change the mix
of leadership is to go as far back into the
supply chain as you possibly can and
create equitable processes, equitable
But she is not one to rock the boat.
Rather, she says she doesn’t “align as
well” with many of the people pushing
for change in Silicon Valley, because she
doesn’t “believe in being divisive in
“So much more gets done through
being unified and working together, I
worry that we over-rotate sometimes —
whether it’s feminism, or equal rights,
or the natural emotion of being angry

How to Lead. ennifer Tejada, chief executive of PagerDutyJ

into ow the business is performing —h
“SaaS [software as a service] to me is
applied math,” she says. The passion for
data also runs through her personal life
— down to keeping track of the hours
she sleeps and food she eats. “Big data’s
been around for a while, but what peo-
ple really want is a few actionable
insights that are game-changers,” she
says. “How do you shift an organisation
from drowning in data to really being
thoughtful about the four or five or ten
on a ew leading indicators. It took ninef
months to find the metric that gave the
best indication of where the business
was heading —a magic numbershe has
She warns of two traps that managers
One is “analysis paralysis”: becoming
overwhelmedand failing to find

tric tech start-up world. She credits Mr
Solomon, who is still a senior executive,
with smoothing the way, but she had to
“When you come into a business it’s
human nature to say, ‘Here are the
things that are wrong, I’m running it as
the fixer, here’s what I’m going to do to
fix all the things you stupid people
screwed up.’” Instead, he tried to “cele-s
brate everything we do really well” —
Ms Tejada admits to being very
demanding. Her toolfor challenging the
organisation s marshalling the massivei
amounts of data thrown off by a cloud
software business, which give insights

pany’s stock market value ballooned to
more than $25bn before collapsing in
Twenty years later,in a differenttech
boom, the challenge s how to take ai
company, which has honed its service
and is looking to scale up,to the next
level. After working for companies at all
stages of their life cycle, Ms Tejada says
she is most excited by late-stage growth
of building,” she says.“I like building
teams, I like having resources, I’m com-
Herformula for supercharging com-
paniesrests on a mix of high-energy
motivation (Ms Tejada talks fast), an
analytical style that depends on devour-
ing massive amounts of data and a close
Winning over PagerDuty’s staff was
an early challenge. Shejoined in 2016,
replacingthe founder, Alex Solomon —
always atough act in the founder-cen-


head of a Californian software
company.The corner of the
tech world she inhabits — that
of cloud-based companies that
industry — is even moremale-led than
But it isn’t justher gender that marks
her out. The chief executive of Pager-
Duty, asoftware company that went
public arlier this year,e has an outsider’s
Silicon Valley is underpressure to
diversity to reinforcing its ethical
Ms Tejada doesn’ttalk much about
tech. A marketer by training who plot-
ted a course through general manage-
ment, he seems most animateds when
discussing businesses with a close con-
nection tousers. “You can build fabu-
lous technology but at the end of the
day, in enterprise software, people still
Ms Tejada got her first posure toex
tech at the peak of the dotcom bubble
two decades ago,with i2 Technologies, a
supply chain software company that
The lack of management discipline
and structure in the middle of a boom
wasformative. Ms Tejada had started
out at Procter & Gamble, a renowned
colleagues with both a high degree of
professional competence and a strong
In the dotcom bubble, things could
hardly have been more different. “I was
the only person who knew how to do a
performance review,” she says. I was“
like, ‘how do we determine who’s win-
Companiessuch as i2 wereunable to
deliver the online business-to-business
marketplaces they promised. The com-

‘I don’t believe in being divisive in driving change’

A rare female tech boss
brings an ‘outsider’s

mentality’ and a ruthless
focus on analysing data.

ByRichard Waters

Jennifer Tejada uses
big data to challenge
her software company
Winni Wintermeyer/FT

‘I like the creativity of
building teams, I like

having resources, I’m
comfortable driving scale’

1993 Degree in business management,
University of Michigan

1993-1998 rocter & GambleP
1998-2002i2 Technologies,
vice-president of global marketing
2003-2005 APT Ltd/Telecom NZ,A
chief marketing officer
2007-2008 erivale Group, chiefM
operating officer
2008-2012 inicom, executive vice-M
president, corporate development,
product management and marketing
2013-2015 eynote Systems, presidentK
and chief executive
2016-present agerDuty, CEOP

More interviews illuminating
the personalities of high-profile
leaders by focusing on the
issues they faced


SEPTEMBER 23 2019 Section:Features Time: 22/9/2019- 17:39 User:dana.prince Page Name:MONINTERVIEW, Part,Page,Edition:USA, 10, 1

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