Of Rockets and Radios: Results Are What Matter

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Upon a recent trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center* (located here in beautiful Huntsville), I was struck by a quote from Wernher von Braun on experience:


In the broader sense, von Braun was commenting on the importance of having actual experience with building, testing, and operating equipment rather than just having simulations or calculations (or worse – pontification) made by experts.

This quote really resonated with me personally as well as its applicability to Time Domain’s journey and the UWB industry as a whole.

When Time Domain started, there were countless opinions about where this new technology would go.  We were still learning about what UWB was actually good for and what was the best set of engineering trades to maximize performance vs SWAP-C.  We’ve built and spun off a number of product lines that each have had to learn this important lesson of compelling advantage.

Unlike others in our industry who have generated simulations or built lab models, not only have we been building custom silicon for decades, but, more importantly, we’ve been building systems for as many years.  If, as von Braun said, one test result is worth one thousand expert opinions, then one product is worth one thousand test results.  There are no greater lessons learned for hardware companies (or software companies, for that matter) than by having to use your own equipment in the real world, especially when placed in the hands of actual customers with problems in need of solutions.

Our industry, like many other emerging new technologies, has had to learn this lesson – often the hard way.

In engineering, it’s often said that you have to build one to throw away – meaning that the experience gained from actually building something is vital.  You answer questions such as “How well does it work in the real world? How will the market react? Is it the right feature set?”

After years of building systems to meet real world needs, we know what answers industry and researchers are looking for.  We’ve partnered with the research community from the very start, but the real excitement is working daily with product partners, taking our PulsON UWB technology to new and creative places unimagined twenty years ago.

Just in the past month we’ve had customers in the mining, rail, energy, robotics, and security industries testing and deploying new product initiatives.  This process provides us with real world results and generates improvements and new features that will benefit all our customers.

In closing, here are a sampling of Time Domain’s UWB experience through the years:

Time Domain Firsts:

  • 1st commercial use of IBM SiGe process
  • 1st UWB custom silicon chip
  • 1st UWB baseband chip
  • 1st Through-Wall Radar
  • 1st FCC-certified UWB communications product

5 – the number of generations of UWB silicon, enabling 8 different UWB platforms

12 – the average number of years of UWB experience amongst Time Domain staff

100+ – the number of patents awarded to Time Domain for its UWB technology

200+ – the collective man-years of UWB design, development, and test experience leveraged by the PulsON product line

$60M+ – contract services $$$ since 2000 to refine and develop UWB platforms and systems


*P.S. For those who aren’t familiar with the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Huntsville’s rich history with the space program and the German rocket scientists who moved here, see the following for more information:

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center History

NY Times: When the Germans, and Rockets, Came to Town

Space.com Article on Wernher von Braun


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