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Internet of things CEO interview: Bosch’s IoT startup is all about the system By Peter Clarke Thorsten Mueler, CEO of Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH (Reutlingen, Germany), has been guiding the latest startup subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH since 2013 when he started the initiative with just two staff. The formation of the company, known as BCDS, was announced in December 2013 and has now grown to 100 employees split between Reutlingen and Coimbatore, India. There are plans to expand early in 2015 at locations in Chicago and Shanghai, Mueller told EE Times Europe, although there are no specific head-count targets. But the staff are focused on the company’s mission of rolling out ready-to-use Internet of Things (IoT) systems for customers to take to market in four areas; smart home, transport and logistics, connected industry and personal smart activity. Mueller, a PhD in physics, joined Robert Bosch, in 2005 at which time he was put to work in corporate research on inertial MEMS. In 2008 he joined the automotive business unit of Bosch working on strategic planning and clustered MEMS sensors and was also worked on the due diligence behind the acquisition of MEMS microphone company Akustica Inc. in 2009. Mueller said that although BCDS is intended to be a followon initiative to the successful Bosch Sensortec GmbH – which has taken the parent company into consumer markets and adding to original success in automotive – it will be different. Whereas Bosch Sensortec is essentially a component and hardware company, BCDS is a system-level company with a much greater emphasis on software. This is partly because BCDS can, and should, stand on the shoulders of the initiatives that have gone before and partly because levels and styles of integration have changed and the creation of value in the Internet of Things will often be in the data that is collected. Corporate R&D and reuse Although BCDS is like a startup within Robert Bosch, it can lean on 1,000 engineers engaged in corporate research and BCDS will re-use MEMS sensors created by Bosch Sensortec for use in consumer applications, Mueller said. BCDS will focus on complete solutions that include sensor platforms, software and services and extend from leaf-node to the cloud. “Bosch Sensortec and Akustica are supplying components. BCDS is providing solutions that are market ready. We will heavily use the devices provided by Bosch Sensortec and Akustica,” said Mueller. “Our first product is a stick-on door sensor the size of a matchbox, that detects the status of the door, can tell the difference between movement, knocking and violent intrusion and send reports to the cloud which can in turn send a phone alert to appropriate persons.” The HIS110 unit can also be applied to windows and detects conditions such as whether doors and windows are open, closed or tilted and offers advanced detection of intrusion attempts. This functionality can even be extended to monitor universal movement detection. The product is being made for BCDS in a Bosch automotive electronics factory in Suzhou, China. Thorsten Mueller, CEO of Bosch Connected Devices & Solutions GmbH. This is another example of how BCDS can leverage the investments that have gone before into other parts of Robert Bosch. “Typically BCDS will produce something that includes a PCB with multiple sensors, local intelligence with an MCU and a radio, be it Bluetooth, ZigBee or GSM radio. We are not a component business. Our solid foundation is ready-to-use equipment as a tier-one supplier. There is no intention to design sensors on our own. A sensor is a component we would buy in. Obviously Bosch is the preferred supplier but we can source externally,” he told EE Times Europe. This explains why BCDS’ is recruiting staff in India to work on embedded software. EE Times Europe asked if this one-step-removed approach to hardware could be a disadvantage to BCDS when it came to miniaturization and integrating sensors, MCUs and RF monolithically. “There will be a trend towards miniaturization. It is something 16 Electronic Engineering Times Europe January 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JAN 2015
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