April 17th, 2019 / Published in: Interviews
Utilizing Ternary based hardware and software in IoT edge devices to lower the power consumption cost of SCADA WAN network operation.
Robert Reive is a serial technology entrepreneur and inventor focused on distributed clean energy solutions which improve quality of life for all.
Robert’s early career involved factory work bringing new products to market with shoe giant Bata, and evolved quickly into designing, coding and supplying small manufacturers , distributors and service companies with business and operations management database centric software solutions running on PC and early LAN Networks.
Early in his career Robert assisted Rockwell Allen Bradley with their PLC/SLC network gateway driver design for early TCP/IP and Novel networks to get information in real time from the plant floor to the dominant Ethernet mini-computer systems of the day from HP and DEC.
After successful early startup BD/Sales stints with Cisco, Fore Systems, Robert founded and invented the IP & technology behind Platespin’s Virtual Machine provisioning software, which was eventually sold to Novell for US $205M. Robert went on to work for early mobile smart-phone software maker Surfkitchen as their QA and Release Manager for early Symbian mobile software clients supported on 70+ mobile phones of the day, provisioning ring-tones, games, skins and themes for FT/Orange, O2 and Teleca in Europe. Surfkitchen was later sold to Teleca.
Robert then headed up Montavista as their VP EMEA re-structuring the team and profitability to help enable the company sale to Cavium Networks. After Montavista, Robert spent time with Cloakware based out of Ottawa, developing the markets in Europe for mobile security software on clients and infrastructure for companies like Nokia Mobile.
Tired of the VC start-up grind, Robert after Cloakware, then struck out his own in late 2008, as both an inventor and primarily, as an independent consultant helping other early start-up software companies to land their first big clients in Canada (Arista Networks and now Leapwork stand out as big early successes)
His company, Harvistor has in the past two years, licensed their newly invented and patented low mount, small wind powered charging systems to Mobismart.ca of Toronto, Canada under the Mobiwind name and to megawatt systems vendor and wind farm developer V3Wind of Dallas, Texas. Harvistor is working on a dual rotor off-grid charging systems called TWIND Power which has been recently publicly announced and will debut in energy station installations at remote off grid sites in 2020.
Robert today is focused on integrating Harvistor’s TWIND Power SCADA hardware and communications into IOTA’s scalable distributed public ledger to help lower IoT Edge, Fog and Mist power consumption costs while also reduce the cost of data management audits and regulatory reporting. The project is called Enersettle still in early developments).
Carlos: Hello everyone this is Carlos Ponce it Nearsoft, somewhere in Mexico, I’m about to take my little Easter break and we are hosting today’s DojoLive session and for that purpose we also have our my fellow teammate Tullio Siragusa in LA, hi Tullio.
Tullio: Hey everyone.
Carlos: Thank you so much for being here Tullio, and also we have Clement Ronzon my fellow teammate in our Hermosillo office, how are you doing?
CarClementlos: Fine, thank you
Carlos: It’s a pleasure to have you here Clement it’s been a long time I appreciate that your willingness to join us in such a short notice okay and last but not least I would like to introduce our guest today we are gonna be having a conversation with mr. Robert Reive he is the managing director of Twind power in Canada and we’re gonna be talking about IOT and ITOA’s also what it’s known as ITOA’s so he’ll tell us more about that he’s the expert so without further ado I’d like to introduce our guest Robert Reive, Robert welcome to the show and it’s a pleasure and an honor to have you here and this craziness called DojoLive welcome to the show.
Robert: Thanks Carlos, thanks.
Carlos: Absolutely, Robert so I would like to start off by asking you just a couple of things tell us a little bit about you and tell us about your company where do you know your background pretty much for the audience and then the company and then we’ll move on to today’s chosen topic that should be interesting, thank you.
Robert: Well, quickly I started off as a programmer in the very early PC world of debase the base to be these three and clippard compilers working on what we call today ERP systems and CRM systems and and and at night I spent some time integrating networks in the customers site and then installing our software on their sites a lot of the shops we dealt with were small suppliers to the auto industry or they were in the distribution business moving boxes so that’s how I got my start I’m I consider myself a an old Fortran warrior that turned into a Pascal warrior that turned into a Java warrior and now I I live and breathe Python in the test world so that’s my programming background the the journey I’ve taken is really ran out of software into networking be a Cisco I was assistant one of Cisco’s first guys and in fact their first field sales guy back in 89 so for english-speaking Canada there was one other gentleman that was the french-speaking Canada gentleman by the name of Michelle Basra and the two of us actually opened up Cisco in Canada and this was pre IPO before the company was taken public and I worked there for five years learned quite a bit about routing and evolved and went into high speed networking and for systems out of Pittsburgh did that for five years spent some time in Europe and before all of that though I can say that I spent some time with Rockwell allen-bradley working on integrating old HP systems and Dec systems into factory floor networking where we picked up the data from PLC’s and what they call slick store SLC’s in the allen-bradley Rockwell world and much of that had to do was picking up SCADA information from either job shop environments or continuous process environments so I’ve got a pretty strong background in that area and hence that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing today it’s come full circle and that over the years in just in the last four or five years I’ve moved away from just working with high tech companies and been more focused on building a new off-grid energy stations and now we finally come to market with those a Twind power so that’s the short version of a very long journey.
Tullio: You brought me back quite a bit of time in that journey I started my career in 1989 right now an MCI working on nights on a network operation center.
Robert: In MCI I had a little bit of time in Canada they brought up you you debt and somewhat the guys I know in Toronto before it worked for MCI before it all blew up but yeah it’s a I did spend some time just geographically speaking a lot of the time I spent earlier my career was in the Toronto area and then I I moved to Germany in the 90s I at the time was married to a German person and we had a couple of children together we lived in Germany for a while and then we came back to Canada and it was then when I started that company called plates Ben which eventually was sold to Novell for a fair amount of money for virtual machine provisioning so I have a couple of patents in the virtual machine of provisioning space and also in some new high capacity factor wind turbines that have just recently hit the market.
Tullio: Well it’s great to have you as a guest, about what you’re doing now your company now I’ve come about what do you guys are doing what’s unique if you could tell us a little bit about that.
Robert: Well, yeah, Twin Towers is the brand or marking label of that we use a harvester harvesters by my company where I’ve taken some investment money for month and eight different angles around the world many of them whom I worked with in the past and high-tech space and we finally have licensed our technology in the last couple of years to one company that’s making clean power trailers over Toronto company called mobile smart and just recently licensed into a much there type of wind turbine technology what they call an acceleration tower with a company called the v3 wind in Dallas so we’ve had some good good fortune of getting our intellectual property license and I’ve been the sole support person in terms of doing the CFP simulation design work and the finite element analysis design were also built the prototype for in the shop for mobile smart so I have a background it really didn’t talk about earlier but in high school I took all my shops so that shop or whatever right, electrical etc so I have a I took post frames in high school both the technical streams and the academics room.
Tullio: Alright, so what you’re saying is anyone who’s in high school watching this and wondering what the heck am I gonna do with this shop experience it might actually come in handy someday.
Robert: Yeah you know today the shop world is changing and 3d printing rules the roost and a lot of that space and that was one of the things we actually used in building the mobile smart system among that we also used laser cutters and some very interesting molding techniques and we used some old fashioned aircraft techniques in terms of building that the first rotors in a prototype sense just to make sure it all hang together in a geometric way so yes my recommendation to anybody is that take a look at the shops first before you do anything because that mean that background is invaluable everything revolves around the shops and building stuff what so if you’re building information systems in the world the mainstream world you really need to understand how manufacturing works and how distribution works etc before you like that [INAUDIBLE] anything in the software world that helps those people get their job done.
Tullio: Well that’s the embedded world line right you know software.
Robert: eah you know these better world that’s for me some people thought the skate it was dead a long time ago but it’s even more important now as it ties itself into these things called distributed public Ledger’s and in and at IOTA which is a German foundation it’s a very interesting company because they they don’t have the requirement for mining yet the duty is proof of work where any net new transaction that comes into the network has to first approve two previous transactions to be attached to the distributed ledger and means it’s very fastest the scalability is linear so it doesn’t have the problems of this one anointed model that the blockchain folks use in Bitcoin and etherium which is sequential and slow and it will never scale and they can do all the database sharding and side-chains they want but it’s it’s never gonna work properly in terms of scaling for micro transactions in the world of IOT where you have billions of devices out there today it everybody, talks about though there’s gonna be billions of devices connected to the network as well they’re already connected the disk use all these proprietary gateways that are sold to you at great expense by vendors like Schneider you’re from Francine either is ironic what all these companies that charge an arm and a leg for their SCADA systems and their back room floor systems that that world is about to be and is being put on its back heels as the bigger companies in in Europe especially in France and Germany and the Nordics are moving to IOTA for all their proof of concepts they’re winning all the all the proof of concept so it’s very interesting what is mist it’s nemesis market in this shift to using distributed Ledger’s posted a private sense with hyper ledger for my man or should say from IBM but I’ve been promoted a lot and also with IOTA in the public ledger since.
Tullio: Hey Carlos, reminds what the topic of choice was today.
Carlos: I was gonna ask you about that I didn’t want to step in the conversation to a way way too exciting, absolutely, okay, well, Robert tell us a little bit about why you chose this particular topic and correct me if I’m wrong but I you told us that you we’re going to be speaking about integrating SCADA IOT applications into IOTA scalable distributed public ledger right.
Robert: Yeah, that’s correct.
Carlos: Okay, so why did you choose this particular topic Robert?
Robert: Well, it’s a little earlier before it came online on air, the thing about distributed public Ledger’s that people don’t really get great at the moment is that they replaced a lot of accountants and lawyers and they they could be trusted to machine [INAUDIBLE]communication so there’s no need for human interaction one of my skin cells with another machine in terms of sending us data and getting a confirmation from accurate and I’ll stand to an immutable data store where no one can touch it and change it and that basic premise means that you can do things like settlement between organizations in a very automated way and even include an administrative layer over top of it as well if you need to so that it’s not totally in the control of machines you still have a way to insert yourself in that process when I say that that’s where a lot of the operational cost savings are and I’ll use the utility business which I know further well and that there’s if you are selling electricity to the grid with your energy system you need to settle your receipts with the independent service operator and what invariably happens is instead of getting your money after you’ve delivered the energy to the grid that the end of the month they sum it all up and says you delivered so much energy to me to the grid this month and and your receipt looks like this well what happens is you get accountants involved on both sides and it goes back and forth literally, 15,20,30, 45 days before you actually get your money so it slows down the velocity of money in that because that transaction takes so long because people don’t believe the data, they have to check the data and it’s because the data is mis is managed by people so it’s the power company with their creative accountants sending their their version of what they thought they produced to the independent service operator and then there’s the independent service operators accountants going well we’re not so sure we believe that and as a result the the flow of money the velocity of money between the two parties slowest dramatically, and that can really hurt your working capital position if you’re a small independent power producer because of these the shenanigans that goes on between accounting departments so the distributor public ledger solves that problem.
Tullio: How big of a problem is that?
Robert: Universally across the world the biggest problem in the power industry.
Tullio: Okay, so why wouldn’t anyone want to adopt us what’s the challenge with adoption are you seeing some pushback and why?
Robert: Well the the the spirit of public Ledger’s are new, in the sense of using them for not just a store of value but also for transactions and the earlier early blockchain versions of these things Bitcoin being the genesis of everything with their blockchain than aetherium which has come on and it’s smart contracts and some others that have jumped into it like Tron and and others now is another one that I think about the problem with that this sequential blockchain world is the transactions per second and it could take minutes hours days even weeks to settle a transaction depending on the nature of the transaction and and how that blockchain system is reaching consensus is it a proof of work system okay well then the miners get to work and away you go and your settlement times might vary from a couple of minutes to hours or you may use a proof of share model where the transactions will happen fast like euros but its people who are in control of it and you’re at the mercy of whoever’s got the most amount of money in terms of their proof of share and as to those people running that proof of shared consensus to actually create the the the rewards and that allow that transaction to be attached to the distribute public ledger so it’s the world this is evolving and it’s only recently that IOTA has been able to prove that their technology scales they’re just they have been using a centralized coordinator which worries a lot of people because it’s a single point of failure and they just recently announced their tester network without those types of capabilities in terms of centralized control, so the world is changing to the point where now the discriminative public Ledger’s are really close to being viable for things like the power industry maybe in a couple years we’ll actually be there, I think it’s going to be two or three years before people will commit to an automatic settlement mechanism where there is no delay in selling the receipts with as far as the independent service operators concerned paying the independent power producer for the energy produced so it’s it’s coming.
Tullio: Well it’s not like you’re solving a pretty big problem that also impacts the consumers I’m interested in getting some questions I think there’s a few from the audience and co-host coming on please all mute yourself I didn’t mute you before because they are playing a little trick with the screen but please go ahead and ask.
Clement: Yeah, I have a question regarding IOT, is it how you pronounce it? okay so so I’ve read about it’s it’s a protocol right.
Robert: Well it’s some multiple protocols actually there’s the the currency itself which behaves just like any other cryptocurrency and sensing I’m a wallet it is different for me and that all the all the coins that are ever going to be produced have been produced so there’s there’s no mining required and you can use the IOTA currency to settle transactions today and transfer money between a your wallet and somebody else’s wallet in a peer-to-peer sense today you don’t have to go through an exchange that said it is on an exchange and is traded on multiple exchanges so it’s it’s very similar in that regard what differs it difficult I would have differs from virtually every other cryptocurrency and blockchain play in that it is a linear scalable technology that uses what they call it directed acyclic graph well if you’re a database guy you know what that is a day so it’s just essentially a tree that goes in one direction and and it’s able to support immutable and mutable storage of data in the IOTA node that I don’t know, it communicates with all the other nodes in a distributed fashion but the approval today of the transactions is still managed by the central coordinator to ensure the safety of the transactions that’s a boat to be removed just generally and I suspect it will happen this year and you’ll see many more companies adopt them beyond Volkswagen and Bosch and Audi and Fujitsu Germany etc there’s a lot of big companies working on IOTA today most of them are European and this is not well understood in North America they think the Sun rises and sets under the bitcoins rear end if you like and that’s just not the case when it comes to IOT especially in Europe so I think that the thing you have to remember it is a protocol there’s basically four sets of protocols that run in the node and one of them is a peer-to-peer communications protocol which is free and there are services have been built on top of that like chat services that allow you to chat peer-to-peer anywhere in the world across the IOTA a set of nodes and the public distributed blockchain as some people call it the distributive public Ledger’s weren’t correct and that’s so that means you can literally communicate to anybody around the world using it now there are some companies that actually built peer-to-peer video conferencing systems over top applying it in Holland for instance there’s also some companies in Holland and Germany also in the Nordics and also in France they’ve invented some new systems on top of IOTA that may make it possible to use bio security systems so I think particularly in Switzerland this one called Lyon pass and that’s caught on like wildfire and makes a lot of sense for biometric in the data centers etc but not just that for many other things so this is an exciting time right now in IOTA and I don’t work for the IOTA foundation I’m just looking to use their nodes in our energy stations and host the notes and the energy stations and have our Spader data removed from the skater controller as an Oracle interface into the descriptive blockchain so we can post our data on to either private side chain which we use internally and and where there’s a regulatory reporting requirement in the public sense for safety and security and also with the independent service operators when they want to know how much power is produced we can also publish the data directly from the energy station with no human intervention to the public blockchain or I would have distributed public ledger as people will soon find that’s the correct term views for these these systems so it’s six times and we use a there’s there’s a protocol called mam’s just answer the protocol question that allowed us that peer-to-peer protocol to work between anything so you can literally add it into an app a server a SCADA controller whatever it is you want make it a part of it an FPGA or ASIC implementation and away you go, today they take their turn early math which is sometimes called trying to read so forget about buying zeros and ones in the IDA world everything works in trinary I’ll use that term that’s really a turner is the correct term but the that means you’ve got +1 0 and minus 1 and that also means that when you do calculations you can store massively larger numbers with much greater precision but even more importantly you can save yourself 35 to 65 percent in terms of power consumption by building a trinary or turnery FPGA or AC now today nobody does that they they have conversion tools that take it from there a high-level language which is called key to plug which is a scripting language and then there’s a converter that takes it down to an intermediate language called ABRA and then that ABRA language can be sent via very log to the FPGA or to the AC and that’s currently in process rate today and one of the bigger players doing that is Bosh if you don’t know who Bosch is Robert Bosch is three hundred thousand person strong company who’s leading the way in terms of IMT access.
Tullio: I have a question that something sparked up a question you were talking about energy consumption or reducing energy consumption yeah couple of big players like Google and others I mean they’re mean their energy consumption is massive what are the key target clients that could really does should probably implement this like now in your opinion.
Robert: Well, yes, you have to look at this sector by sector but I think anybody who’s in the utility space knows there’s meters all over the place measuring power in the in your residences and so-called smart meters and there’s a cost of operating smart meters which gets passed on to the rate payer and there’s definitely an opportunity for those guys who are in the smart meter space to adopt this right away and and and really improve their own margins reduce the cost of their equipment and downstream even see a slight reduction to for the people that are paying the power bills the rate payers so there’s definitely an opportunity right away in that space for people to wake up they’re in the automobile space Volkswagen and Audi and now BMW are all over this and they working very closely with IOTA for the last two years in terms of machine machine a machine transactions which ties into electric vehicle charging systems so they’re way ahead in that and they they’ve already deployed systems in Holland with Elad one of the power and utilities offering electrical charging stations in in Holland and have demonstrated that you can literally roll up plug your car and the machines do all the transactions you’re done and it all works with it with the car interface to your mobile phone and you don’t do anything you just roll up plug it in when you’re done you’re done and you get going well and in the transaction happens so that and those those types of applications clearly highlight the how this is going to impact the everyday person out in the real world right so I’ve paid my power bill I can charge my car really quickly and I don’t have to burn it around at the cashier these things can be out in the middle of nowhere completely unmanned and just works.
Tullio: And I have to say this chance turned into a very good educational law conversation too you know I’m always we’re always against time and up on time but I do want to open it up if there’s any additional questions appending questions from the audience I think Carlos you had one or two we’re kind of coming up on time but if there’s any questions just want to open that up and you know we’ll give it a second.
Carlos: Well, we have one question from one of our guys actually internally but besides Clement, but Clement, you have anything else for Robert before we go?
Clement: Go ahead.
Carlos: Well this question came from from Sandra by the way of one of our marketing team members slack here here it is she says who are you who are your customers who are your clients and how are they best served by your offering this more if an open-ended question.
Robert: So with the energy stations the this thing called IPP which is independent power producer these enough people that negotiate per our purchase agreements with the independent service operator so in that in the now who is an independent power producers well one of the big ones are deaf definitely it could be and should be the mobile operators but today they aren’t as they try to roll out 5G they’re going to have a real problem on their hands because Spidey’s Reach is only 300 meters and many of their towers are in kilometers apart so it’s not just as easy as adding 5G to their existing tower they won’t have any coverage so in order to get the coverage they have to have these things spaced 500 meters apart in high-density area is to get high-speed 5G work now how are you gonna do that you’re gonna call your power company and have them hook up every bloody tower that you’ve got I don’t think so so this is where the off-grid an opportunity to just do a drop-in place solution and it just works doesn’t need to be hooked up to the grid that that’s a very big opportunity for us as the market for 5G opens up so very early days right now but that’s one of the markets were targeting, the other market we target is remote sites that just have no possibility of getting power from the grid and today those are run by diesel generators because carbon taxes have hit many countries including Canada where I’m at and in may and across Europe you pay a penalty for running diesel and that is really starting to have its effect in the marketplace for off-grid power generation and it’s only just recently that the battery systems have been cheap enough to be coupled with the solar and wind to make off-grid clean power systems possible so that that’s that’s an exciting time and the it’s not lithium that’s leading the way the way everybody thinks it’s not Tesla, in off-grid it’s actually our companies like Manta energy in Los Angeles it’s companies like a big vision in Columbia Falls Montana who makes zinc-air batteries and zinc-air batteries are already sitting at with Nantou energy a hundred dollars per kilowatt hour so when you combine a hundred dollars per kilowatt hour with wind and solar it can compete very easily with diesel and that’s just happened in the last year.
Tullio: Wow, well really appreciate having you unfortunately we’re out of time we’re order talk I have one last question we all we often ask our guests, just keep it short you know you obviously take it on a big challenge and a big opportunity any words of wisdom anyone sitting sort of on the fence about wanting to go down this path of starting something new taking on the challenge of literally changing the world any words or words and we like to share with them.
Robert: Yes, if your founders and you have there’s two or three or four of you starting a new company you also need to sign what I call a a private agreement that says we’re all going to vote the same way so that you can avoid the VCS splitting you apart and taking your company from you so, that’s a very important thing to get in place if there’s more than one of you if you’re a benevolent dictator then it’s not an issue but normally startups up two or three people make sure you’re all on the same page that’s what they call a pooling of entry agreement so if you always have a pooling of interest agreement between the original founders it says no matter how much we hate each other we’re still going to vote the same to keep the VCS from splitting us.
Tullio: And that’s really good words of advice, I think that would have served me well in my first start up.
Robert: It would done the same for mine.
Tullio: I really appreciate the time you’ve spent with us for those draft you’ll be able to go to the landing page will provide links to whatever you want to learn if you want if they want to connect with you we’ll make sure we have it in place on nearsoft.dojo.com great to have you we look forward to next week who’s coming up next week as I guessed Carlos.
Carlos: Next week we’re gonna have Mr. Gilad Salamander from eClincher, that’s gonna be eClincher, that’s is correct, that’s the name of the company we don’t have unfortunately we don’t have the topic in the tagline yet is but it’ll be up there on the website like really soon so keep an eye on dojo.nearsoft.com and of course also our our social networks it’s all gonna be in there so follow us and keep be on the lookout for our next guest and his chosen topic that’s Gilad Salamander from Eclincher and that’s all I have Tullio.
Tullio: Thank you for joining us everyone and have a wonderful rest of your day.
Robert: Thank you, have a great day.
Carlos: Thank you Robert and thank you Clement, until next time.