It's time for part two of our interview with Head of Engineering Dave Jardine.
Missed part one? You can recap here, for lots of insight into Dave's career in electronic engineering, the broad range of work at B-Secur and why no two days are the same.
This week, Dave talks more about the the breadth of experience within B-Secur's engineering team, how we manage multiple complex projects and how we keep ahead of fast-paced developments in the biometric landscape.
Can you tell us more about your team, and the specialist skills within it?
“The engineering team currently consists of hardware engineering which includes circuit design, development, test and support, electrode research and development targeted towards our different customer requirements, mechanical design of enclosures for ECG demonstration/data collection modules and signal quality analysis.
“I strongly believe that engineering success is anchored in the engineers within the organisation and having the right people that can work as a team. At B-Secur we have a brilliant engineering team that works as a unit to overcome both the long-term research goals and the daily engineering challenges.
“Collectively, we have over seventy years of engineering test and design experience in the team which is a great platform to enable B-Secur to develop and innovate. The team are self-motivated to succeed and being a critical part of our company, they understand the importance of the role they play in the company’s success.
“Within the engineering team, we must provide a quality of service and product that makes us stand out from the rest. For me, throughout my career, the foundation of any customer product or service is quality. Simply put, it must do what it is designed to do and do it to the highest possible standard.
“This must also be balanced with timely delivery but with the experience in the team, it has been possible to accurately predict how long each deliverable should take to reach the quality standards we aspire to.”
A Wealth of Experience
Collectively, we have over seventy years of engineering test and design experience in the team, which is a great platform to empower B-Secur to develop and innovate.
Developing a best-in-class team requires strong process and delivery skills too. Do you use any particular methodologies to keep projects on track?
“Absolutely, we manage all of the engineering teams’ projects through a projects and priorities issue board electronically which allows us to closely monitor both timing and progress. In addition, every product and work package that is released to a customer is tested, documented and the relevant information is stored on a document control system. This allows us to track all released hardware and documentation.
“For all products that we have delivered to customers, extensive hardware testing and functional tests are performed which is also documented to ensure that the devices and systems that get released will meet the required specifications. Many of these tests are semi-automated which makes testing both repeatable and efficient.”
How does the work of the engineering team dovetail with the other teams in B-Secur?
“B-Secur is primarily an algorithm company but any data analyst or algorithm engineer will agree that the key to any good algorithm performance is the quality of the input data, in our case, the ECG signal quality.
“The ECG signal is a tiny electrical signal picked up from the surface of the skin. There are multiple sources of noise and interferences to be considered in an ECG system that can severely impact algorithm performance and therefore need to be managed.
“Within the engineering team, we ensure the hardware and electrodes are set up to acquire the best possible signal for the algorithm.
“There are numerous aspects to ensuring the best quality signal, ranging from noise avoidance within the design to noise removal when the noise sources cannot be avoided. It’s safe to say that this area forms the basis of a significant part of the engineering challenge.”
The landscape of biometric technology and its applications is changing exponentially. How do you and your teams keep ahead with such fast-paced development?
“The industry is always changing and updating but we are lucky that we get to work with the top semiconductor companies in research and development, electrodes analysis, next generation noise reduction techniques, working to develop enhanced ECG modules.
“Everyone in the engineering team commits a percentage of their time to research future trends and new technologies in our technology space.”
What’s been a highlight for you in your time at B-Secur?
“Seeing the video for the first time from our trip to CES in January of this year of the B-Secur HeartKey demonstration steering wheel being reviewed live by CNET.
“Watching a live broadcast on one of the world’s biggest technology media platforms that the engineering team here had developed from scratch - that was pretty special for all of us.”B-Secur at CES
Scratching the Surface
The most notable and influential development over the last decade has been the vast increase in digital data across most industries and sectors. I still believe we are only scratching the surface with what is achievable with smart data analysis.
Northern Ireland’s tech scene is vibrant and continuing to grow. What are the most notable developments you’ve seen?
“Business is thriving in Belfast especially in the technology sector.
“Driving around the city, it’s easy to see how the skyline of Belfast is constantly changing and developing with new skyscrapers appearing to fit all the business opportunities and demands within Northern Ireland.
“More specifically in engineering, the most notable and influential development over the last decade has been the vast increase in digital data across most industries and sectors. I still believe we are only scratching the surface with what is achievable with smart data analysis.
“Algorithm development tools and techniques coupled with the knowledge that is coming out of our universities to make effective use of this data has led to a significant growth in many of the technology companies in Northern Ireland and across the world.
“The electronic engineer in me is prompted to finish with this thought - we will always still need quality electronic hardware to get the digital signals into the digital domain!”