Ericsson’s 1,600-strong Irish workforce focused on building the tactile internet of things

4 Mar 2015

Traoloch Collins from Ericsson Ireland at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday

A tactile internet of things that anticipates needs rather than waiting to be instructed is the focus of Ericsson’s 1,600-strong workforce in Dublin and Athlone, its country manager told Silicon Republic.

On the surface this year’s Mobile World Congress is all about smartphones and wearables, but scratch beneath that surface and more fundamental and exciting things are being worked on from new standard for 5G, a self-functioning cloud and the internet of things.

This, says Ericsson country manager in Ireland Traoloch Collins, is the focus of the company’s Irish workforce which includes 800 people in Athlone writing software for Ericsson’s next global vision.

Last year Ericsson revealed plans to create 120 new software roles in Dublin and Athlone.

At the Mobile World Congress this week Ericsson revealed a vision for using cars as sensors for the future city car cloud and forged an alliance with Volvo to make it happen. Not only will cars report back to a central cloud about road conditions, congestion and more, but this will all feed into smart cities’ infrastructure such as wireless sensors on lampposts and at traffic lights to make intelligent street management a reality.

It also came as a surprise to see how visitors to Ericsson’s stand could don a VR headset and take control of a digger 2,500 miles away in freezing Sweden, indicating that the future of work involving drones could be far more productive than using these technologies as military weapons over Afghanistan.

Collins said Mobile World Congress 2015 is not just about shiny phones. “What you see here at Mobile World Congress is a lot more prominence for smart devices. Three years ago these devices were considered embryonic, but now there are all kinds of smart devices from wearables to sensors on bikes and cars.

“On one hand it could be from a consumer perspective but what’s really behind this year’s developments is the networked society and the internet of things. The priority for Ericsson’s Irish workforce is how do we create the kind of mobile software to connect anything that can be connected.

“The world would be a better place if everything that can be connected – such as healthcare, payments, cars, traffic management and more – using 4G and eventually 5G.”

The tactile internet

Collins said that today the internet is just a communications exchange. “But the next thing is the use of internet communications in a tactile way.

“Instead of just transferring information, you are instead transferring skils. A brain surgeon in the US is for example working remotely using robotics. You saw the car cloud that turns a city into a living breathing thing with awareness of where vehicles are and the mobile digger being controlled in Arctic conditions from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“For Ericsson, what’s exciting for us is that we are writing the software here in Ireland.

“If we are talking about a sensory internet involving things like cars, diggers andmore, the network has to perform well.

“So a lot of our focus is on the convergence of ICT and building this super network of the future.

“We have 800 people writing this software as well as the operating system for Ericsson globally. The other side of this is our focus on the cloud and we have a 400-strong global consulting hub in Dublin of whom 80pc work with customers globally.

“Our focus on the cloud and our focus on the future means we have built a team that because of our competencies punches well above its weight.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years