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Tec Trek Podcast: Possibilities of Underground Navigation

TJ and Yatri are joined by Remy Thellier, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at Syntony GNSS, to discuss how underground positioning can be made possible, and the industries these new technologies will affect.

Listen in on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


Episode Transcription

TJ: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to "Tec Trek." So good to have you back with us for today's episode. My name is TJ and with me as always is?

Yatri: Yatri. How are you guys doing?

TJ: Hey, everybody. So today's question is actually a really interesting one. And it's one that I think is super fascinating to me, because of the inherent challenges. It's one of those in our industry and the GPS, and location, and positioning fields. This is a question I think that everybody sort of gets fascinated by because the solutions are not readily visible. It's not an easy fix. It's not a "Well, if we just do this, it'll solve the problem." And there's a lot of different ways that we can approach it too. And that question is, what are the possibilities of underground positioning and underground navigation? So what do you think about that, Yatri? What are your thoughts on that?

Yatri: Oh, man, this is a really, really tough one. Because everybody knows, especially with things like GPS, you need that line of sight. You know, it's crucial. And like, especially when you consider, right, it's GPS positioning in general, is a relatively young field.

TJ: Yeah. It's a pretty new tech. I mean, in the non-government space, if you will.

Yatri: Yeah, I mean, we're looking at two, maybe three decades, not really quite three decades, right? And it's really tough. It's really tough to kind of figure out because positioning in general, is a difficult thing to figure out, regardless of whatever technology you use.

TJ: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Yatri: GPS is unique, because with that satellite network, you can get something that's scarily accurate. But most other positioning technologies aren't quite there, you know. We talked a little bit about ultra-wideband.

TJ: Yeah. Yeah. In a previous episode, guys, you would have heard us talking about ultra-wideband which is a similar or not similar. It's one of those technologies that could be used for this kind of application. Not that it's the right one. Not that it's the one that should be used by any means. It's just one of those other forms of positioning. Yeah, it's an alternative solution.

Yatri: But it has its limit. It has its limitations, because you can't do it over long, long distance.

TJ: Yeah. And if you start thinking about like distance, right on that, if you try to use ultra-wideband, one of the negatives is you've got to have an antenna every 3 feet.

Yatri: Yeah, exactly.

TJ: Which are not like, 3 feet is an exaggeration. But...

Yatri: Yeah, I mean, because underground, I mean, everything gets attenuated. I mean, okay, so we're familiar with New York City, we take the subway very often, we don't remember what it was like trying to make a call, or just check your email, or something on the subway, before they added extra cell antennas.

TJ: And see, I didn't live there when they had this. By the time I left, for anybody not aware, I live in Los Angeles, but I used to live in New York. When I lived in New York, we didn't have the extra cell. I mean, I remember standing outside of the subway station, just hoping the eBook I'm downloading would finish so I could read on my train right in. Like that, I mean, I remember that very distinctly.

Yatri: And like, so things like cell triangulation, even that, and we know that that's not the most accurate thing to begin with. But even something like that has its limits underground, because...

TJ: Oh, yeah.

Yatri: know, penetrating the ground for I guess it also matters why you're underground, right? But there's a variety of reasons why you might be there.

TJ: Absolutely. So I just wanna bring up some quick points about the sort of world, I guess, of underground positioning and navigation. So GPS, as we talked about, it's a young field, and you've got to have what Yatri means by line of sight is the device has to have whatever is doing the locating, the positioning, the hardware, it has to have line of sight, in essence to the GPS satellites. Without that, it cannot get positional information. Now, some of the stuff like some hardware, like personal GPS devices, and things like that, they also rely on cellular to then transmit the position location. So you're thinking, "Well, in the New York subway, you just said they added cell tower." The thing is, without the line of sight to the satellite, it doesn't know where it is. So it doesn't matter, the addition of the cell is useless. Which is an interesting thing. And similarly, you've got issues of geography and urban landscapes. You know, in major cities with lots of skyscrapers, you got a canyon effect, where you have trouble getting that signal at certain times of the day or in certain locations. And similarly, geography, if you're in an area like I know for a fact, I get much worse GPS signal when I'm over in the Verdugo mountains, just east of where I live in California. So mountains have a similar effect, it's like Canyon effect. And signals don't travel through objects. It's the same reason why a GPS device, if it's on your car, probably doesn't work in a parking garage.

Yatri: Same reason you don't put your Wi-Fi router on one corner of the house. Because...

TJ: Yeah. And in your basement. Yeah.

Yatri: has limits, everything has limits.

TJ: Exactly. Exactly. So now, why is underground positioning and navigation important? Well, we're gonna talk about that with our expert when he comes on. But some of the things like we've talked about already are gonna be subways, underground construction. So the building of a subway, think about that, industrial use is massive, you know, worker safety, equipment, asset management, underground, like all of these things are incredibly valuable, it's almost the same use cases for GPS above ground, just put it under the earth, and make it way harder to do. So that's one of the things.

Yatri: We can even reference, one of our first episodes when we talked about surveying, because it's really difficult. At least above ground, you have other points of reference...

TJ: Yeah, exactly.

Yatri: ...where you are, but underground, you don't have that. And a lot of the times when you're underground, especially for things like construction work, but also for things that are related, say, you're doing work for the city, you have to do work for, I don't know, plumbing,

TJ: Well, we could be talking like mining as well, oil and gas, like resource extract, all of that sort of fits in.

Yatri: You wanna make sure you're in the right place. Working on the right lines.

TJ: Yeah, especially I mean, like mining, I think is an interesting one and the sort of resource extractions, because I'm sure they're getting like topographical data, and they've got geologists and engineers who come in and tell them like, "Hey, these coordinates, there is a large iron deposit that that's what you're gonna mine?" Well, when you total to it, you don't have that frame of reference, like what you're talking about with surveying, you don't have the frame of reference, you need location data, you need it to be precise. So you're in that right area. So we'll talk more about some of these use cases with our expert, because he's gonna know way more than us. I have that feeling.

Yatri: Yes.

TJ: So what were some attempts used to solve this problem of underground positioning? Why weren't these attempts successful? And again, we'll talk about that as well. But there were some, a lot of the failed attempts, I think, have to do with the brutal need for infrastructure, right?

Yatri: Right.

TJ: And who's responsible for that, at that point? You know, because if it's the small mining company or a small construction company, I mean, they've been making, do without it for a while, right? Like it's a big benefit to them. But are they going to commit to the infrastructure changes? And we're talking about things like signal repeaters and stuff like that, where you've got, I don't know exactly how it works, but I'm assuming you've got the repeater underground, the antenna directly above it. So you're able to push signal and be able to bypass the fact that you're underground, but you need a ton of those for these applications.

Yatrii: And they're inherently limited too because...

TJ: Yeah, they're not gonna be great.

Yatri: only gives you its position, it doesn't give you a position of where you are, if you're 20-feet away from that or...

TJ: Exactly. The best way I heard that, that kind of, it's almost like a tethering system in a way, and the best way I've heard that described is it doesn't tell you where you are, it can tell you where you're not. Meaning when you get to a certain point, and you're far enough away, the signal breaks and you know you're not there anymore. You don't know where you are, you just know you're not where you were. And that is inherently imprecise, you know, it's you're never gonna be correct, unless you build out the infrastructure to the point that you're not doing it based on one data point, you know, maybe you are disconnected from this beacon or repeater. But you are connected to these two. So then you can kind of, "But oh, my God, that's so much work." Like there's so much that has to happen for that to become accurate.

Yatri: Yeah. And there's, you know, people try to use different technology for this kind of thing. It's interesting, because there is some overlap of underground positioning with things like indoor positioning in cities. So a great example is, say, the museums in New York, the American Museum of Natural History, they let you track what room and what floor you're on through Bluetooth beacons. Again, not the most accurate thing, it doesn't tell you exactly where you are. But for their purposes, it's close enough. But something like that gets heavily attenuated underground, you know, or in a different building, like in some areas of the MET something like that doesn't work well.

TJ: Yeah. And then it's almost like a spoiled effect, right? Like the idea for that is so huge, but then in practice, you go to the MET, and you use it, and it's like, "Man, I'm kind of disappointed by it." So it's interesting. Like, you've got that dichotomy. Like, it's great that they're trying to use that technology, but they're also trying to implement it, maybe without the best solution.

Yatri: Right, right. And there's only so much you can do sometimes.

TJ: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, it's the same and we've talked about this, I think in previous episodes, too, but industrial applications, right? Like it's really hard. Let's say, I work in a forklift factory. It's really hard for me to track my parts down the line inside my warehouse, getting that position information is difficult for me. So this kind of connects to that I think. Now in a roundabout way, it'll be interesting to see what our expert thinks of it. Which speaking of that, it's time for us to introduce our expert. So we're gonna go ahead and bring him on right now. And our guest today is Remy Thellier, he is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Syntony GNSS based in San Francisco, former experiences, including being the deep tech expert at the French Embassy Trade Office in San Francisco, which is super fascinating. That is a fascinating business card, I'm sure. Advising CEOs on how to grow in the USA. Now before that he had an IoT company focused on wearable monitoring devices for veterinary purposes, which is something that is fascinating in a really growing market as well, I think. So he's got a lot of experience in a lot of different fields, doing similar things with a lot of really advanced technology. And welcome, Remy, it is great to have you. Welcome to the show.

Remy: Thank you for hosting me.

TJ: Of course. Of course. I wanna give you a few minutes to just talk a little bit about what you do.

Remy: Thank you. Thanks a lot for hosting me. So yeah. So at Syntony we're focusing on GNSS. So all the navigation technologies, GPS is one of them. Galileo is a European one, GLONASS in Russia, etc. And we do a bunch of different things around this. At the core of what we used to do at the beginning was test equipment for aerospace companies. And that's how we started, we did the very first simulator for Galileo 20 years ago. That's where our experience come from. And then things grew. And we ended up creating this very first GPS extension technology for the underground world that got released six years ago. And now we're growing this in eight countries, including the metro of Stockholm that has been completely covered. So we can dive into that.

TJ: I'm assuming it's going well. Sounds like it is. Very cool. Very cool. So what is the solution for underground positioning?

Remy: So the thing is, you talked a bit about this earlier, there are billions of devices using GPS. And it's the only sustainable and scalable solution, because it's a standard. So there is no other real way to work with that, as you said, it's based on satellites, and the signal doesn't go through things. And so we need to find a way to recreate this environment, the same environment as outside but underground, which is technologically extremely difficult.

TJ: Yeah, very hard.

Remy: Exactly. So what we do, basically, is we're reusing those bricks of simulation, which are used now by the aerospace companies we're working with, and we leveraged this and we leverage the existing RF infrastructure that you talked about earlier, all the things that have been put in place in order to get cellular access to get 4G, etc., underground. So we leveraged that, and our existing technology, and we made it a new solution in order to recreate this. But that takes a lot of work. And is a very creative way of working with this technology.

TJ: What's fascinating though, because it's you know, one of the big questions is, is like, well, who provides the infrastructure? What you guys are doing is leveraging that existing infrastructure that's already there. So it almost it's's gonna sound so strange, but it's thinking outside the box, but using the box.

Remy: Right. Right. Right.

TJ: Does that makes sense? Like, it's sometimes you repurpose a cardboard box, and you turn it into something fun, like a fork, when you're a kid, you're outside of the box, but you're still using the box. And that's a really interesting thing to me.

Yatri: Well, and also, Remy, you said things like 4G antennas or other sort of RF antennas that exist, they have other purposes. And so you get a multi-purpose use out of bringing something like that into play. And so it's a big value add if someone doesn't have it already, right? So that makes a lot of sense from the infrastructure perspective.

Remy: Yeah. Yeah. So the thing is, there are actually multiple parts. The first thing is a receiver. So everyone has a GPS receiver, you have it in your phone, you have it in your watch, you have it in all your devices older and now, also the new vehicles which are used on the ground, are leveraging the same technology. So this you have it, then you're talking about apps, because you talked earlier, a tiny bit about Bluetooth, Bluetooth requires specific apps, you need to use the app of the place you're visiting in order to get it to work. If you use GPS, all the apps are already leveraging GPS. That's another thing. Then you have the antennas. We actually call them leaky feeders, you can go into deeper details, if you will in the future, but those are existing antennas there. So at the end, the only thing that you need is the ability to create a signal, which is the exact same as the satellite do. So it's imitating. And I would say even more than that it's being the satellite in an underground environment.

Yatri: That's a really interesting way of phrasing it. You know?

TJ: Yeah, it is.

Yatri: It's taking the place of its being the satellite. So essentially, it's an adapter for the GPS signal. The device doesn't know it's not GPS, right? The device thinks it's GPS. And in a way it is.

TJ: It is GPS.

Yatri: Because it's using the standard.

TJ: Yeah.

Yatri: It's just not using the satellites. It's using another augmentation of what's there to provide the location data. But it's doing it in the exact same way that a satellite would be doing it.

Remy: And because it's just GPS, we're just broadcasting a downlink data. So there's no privacy issue. We don't know who is using our service. How many? At what time? We have no idea. What we do is we broadcast the data. It's like radio. You listen, right?

TJ: Right. Yeah. It's on. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's fascinating. I love the idea that it's using technology, the way you phrased it, it's not imitating, it is the GPS satellite in that moment, for all intents and purposes, to itself, to the users, to everything. It is GPS, that is fascinating to me. The ability to think of that instead of thinking, "Ugh, GPS doesn't work, we're gonna use something else." Going to the attitude of, "Well, let's see if we can just have a super creative moment and recreate the above ground everything in this instance." That is fascinating to me. 

Yatri: That's a really good take.

TJ: Yeah. It's super cool. Like that is...

Yatri: I feel like nobody's really thought of doing that before. So that's really cool.

TJ: Well, I can tell you why, it sounds hard as heck, doesn't it? It sounds really, really hard. That's why. Everybody's like, ugh, everyone's just, I don't know. We will do."

Yatri: It seems like the key piece of technology here is these simulators. So why don't we talk about that for a little bit? You know, how do they work? Or at a high level, what does it take to give you a high quality simulated GPS?

Remy: Yes, absolutely. So, simulators, Genesys simulation, GPS simulation to make it simple, it's just the fact of simulating all the satellites around the Earth, simulating all the signals that they will emit. And part of the simulation is taking into account everything that will affect this signal, which is a radio signal. And we can go in deeper details about that. And all of this in order to just recreate the electromagnetic field that a GPS receiver would receive at a given point. So that's what we're doing. Just to tell you for one single satellite, what that represent, and you need to know that we do that in real time. Because if you're not doing it in real time, this won't work.

TJ: This is pointless. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Remy: Exactly. GPS is only about timing right. So the satellite is as a position on its orbit. And it has a very high speed because it's going at 8700 miles per hour around the globe. It has a position that we need to compute at an extreme accuracy. So those satellites are 2,550 miles away. And we know they're positioned at four inches accuracy.

Yatri: Right. Yeah.

Remy: If 27 satellites like this, orbiting the globe, sending a signal and this signal is affected by Doppler effect, by relativity, by earthmen gravity, by Earth rotation, by the ionosphere and troposphere delay. And you need an extreme accurate model in order to recreate that. And then you need a way to transfer, convert this information into radio information that can be broadcast. And just to tell you how important they fit. If we are 10 nanosecond late, we get 9-feet of error on the receiver. And that's crazy.

TJ: Yeah. Okay. So that's a really great way to quantify it. And that's something I think that we've certainly talked about in previous episodes, the idea of drift of GPS drift. That is a great way to truly quantify it. And I'm assuming you guys are on the added trouble of that's GPS drift when it's line of sight. You guys are having to do a ton of work in addition to the already existed GPS stuff that's happening in order to turn it in to use.

Remy: If you're 10-feet below ground, but that comes at an angle to each satellite, you have to account for that as well, right? So...

TJ: Oh, yeah. This is fascinating. This is absolutely excellent.

Remy: Then there's a lot of work in geometric work, etc., to cope with that. But yeah, and here, we're only talking about one position. And what we're doing is continuous positioning in a turn off, for instance. And when you're in the train, you get the position along the tunnel.

TJ: As you're moving, not just when it stopped. Yeah. Absolutely, that's fascinating. So in addition to sort of some of the things that we've already talked about, subway and a few other things, what are some potential exciting applications for your technology going forward?

Remy: The biggest applications are public transportation, and mining. I would say that the most noble application and what's the most useful for everyone is anything related to public and worker safety.

TJ: A hundred percent.

Remy: The biggest example of that is 911 call location.

Yatri: Right.

TJ: Wow. Yeah.

Remy: And when you're underground, you're in a confined environment, hostile environment, where now more and more machines exist, which are also getting bigger. And it's a lot of trouble for any kind of firemen, police, etc., to work in this environment in case of a problem. And problem happen. Fire is a major problem in the confined environment. And you need technical solution to rescue the people, and to operate. So that's, I would say, the most important use case.

TJ: And I absolutely love going... That's one of the things that I always strive to do sort of, you know, we don't talk about our company business here very often. But that's something that I've always strived to do in my life, and in our company business is find the positive angle. Like it's not always about keeping track of where stuff is, no, no, it's about the positive, it's about safety. And speaking of public safety, I mean, we all have had, you know, things happen where something might happen on a train car, maybe you've got a medical emergency, and they need to direct EMTs to a train car in any metro system, like those kinds of things are practical, real world applications. And at that point, you're really, I think, not only are you using existing infrastructure, not only is it turning existing infrastructure into multifunctional equipment, you know, it's a 4G antenna, you don't take away the ability for it to do that. You add an additional ability, and its practical usage that helps municipalities, and it helps cities, and it helps the citizens of the cities. That's fascinating, like that is such a refreshing take on a technology, finding that positive thing.

Yatri: Absolutely. And the safety is not something that, like you said, it's not something that everybody thinks of immediately, but it's so obvious when someone mentions it, because we're always thinking of like, those kinds of possibilities of what can happen. News, tons of new stories that occur every day and then especially, I mean, to kind of take it back. We were talking about mining, and how many times do we hear about mining accidents and workers being trapped?

TJ: Exactly.

Yatri: It's rare, but when it happens, it always makes the headlines.

TJ: Exactly. Because I mean, at the end of the day, right now, I feel like heavy industry like that is one of these places where technology is not in a safety sense really penetrated in the way that it maybe has in some others. And so technology like this can be kind of game changing for that application. A lot of safety and heavy industry like, that is still based around a walkie talkie. You've still got people with walkie talkies down to the mine. And that's how they're gonna communicate. And so new technology penetrating that field is something I think that changes that field, it changes that industry at its core, because it makes safety become so much more important.

Remy: And actually, just to add on what you said. So walkie talkie, what we call dual weight radio, in mining...

TJ: That's a technical term walkie talkie? Probably isn't.

Remy: It happen to already be compatible with GPS. So they are radio and GPS.

Yatri: Wow.

Remy: We said earlier that we leverage 4G antennas, we leverage the radio antennas.

TJ: Yeah. Wow.

Yatri: That makes sense. I mean, that makes perfect sense.

TJ: Fascinating. So in your opinion, what are some potential limitations or potential roadblocks in the future?

Remy: So technologically, we only emit insight. So you talked a bit about it earlier, urban canyon when you're outside, but you don't get a good view of the satellite. That's not what we're doing.

TJ: Sure.

Remy: And technologically, it's we only emit insight underground. So that's one thing and the second thing is, it's only one way for now. Meaning that you will a tunnel, you have one way, you're gonna go forward, backwards...

TJ: Oh, yeah. Okay.

Remy: So we can multiply the lines. If you have a road tunnel, for instance, with multiple cars, we can do some sort of 2D positioning. But in general, it's mostly one dimension.

TJ: Sure. Yeah.

Remy: One important thing, though, is that we do. I said, 2D is just on the implementation, because the position is always full dimension, and we put into account the altitude, which allows rescue people to figure out exactly where you are.

TJ: The depth, exactly, yeah, yeah.

Remy: Yeah. That's a big one. You know?

TJ: Yeah. That's fascinating. That's fascinating. Now, is this may be way in the future, or not even part of what you guys are doing, but is there any thought, any work being done, or any just innovation in your opinion? It doesn't have to come from anybody on this call. But is there any work being done sort of the integration, right, of, I'm above ground, I'm tracking, or I'm using positioning information above ground, I go underground, and we've got almost a seamless exchange. Like, that seems very complicated to me, and very difficult.

Remy: So that point actually is already covered by our technology.

TJ: Oh, sweet. That is awesome.

Remy: We call that seamless transition. I can't go into the technical details...

TJ: Of course, please don't. Yeah. Yeah.

Remy: But it's already taken a turn.

TJ: Yeah, and that's fantastic. Because that's sort of the crux of an eventual sort of seamless thing, right? And it's interesting, we talk about safety, right? How that's not really a immediately thought of application. And I think the reason for that is when safety truly works, it's a back pocket application. It's something that you're not thinking about. Like when I'm driving down the freeway, I'm not thinking that if I have an accident, 911 is gonna know where I'm at, and they're gonna be able to get to me, it just is. And sort of that seamless integration is one of the factors, I think, that makes this that sort of back pocket technology, it's there. And once it's there, and it's that you can really trust it. And that's when it gets sort of ingrained into an entire industry, which makes it super fascinating. That's great. Yeah, that's fabulous.

Remy: That's what we call instant adoption in our case.

TJ: Oh, yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Remy: Half the people, they don't realize they're using it because people are used to use it outside, that all of a sudden there's an exit line in the tunnel. The GPS is gonna tell them, "Oh, now you turn," and they're gonna turn.

TJ: Yeah, exactly.

Remy: And they're not gonna think that the past weeks, they've kept on missing this exit, because the GPS is with us.

TJ: Exactly. And that sort of ingrain nature is what then lets it sort of infiltrate the other smaller sort of niche applications, because then you're gonna have these small things that they're seeing and like, "Oh, how are they doing that? How can we use that?" Oh, yeah, that's nice.

Yatri: So, it's so interesting, because this can apply to so many different sectors and industries. I mean, of course, mining is a big one. And, of course, construction, underground construction projects, and public transportation, even basic things like, I don't know, when, like, if a roadway adopts this for long stretches of tunnel, that'd be ideal, right? Because it's underground. It's fairly enclosed. And especially on certain kinds of...especially on divided highway, things like that, where you are only worried about, oh, like a one way movement. That's actually, it's ideal, because you don't have to worry about missing an exit or things like that. And there are certain parts of the country where that's a lot more of a problem than in others. But that could be an easy solution for them to adopt, right?

Remy: Yeah. And the funny thing is, because we just create an environment, people use it as they want. Like let's say we have a customer who really wants it because of 911 call location because they're responsible, they're operating this tunnel, and they want people to be safe. That's great. Well, I'm sorry, but if you put in place, people will also be able to navigate accurately and will not be active anymore...

TJ: Yeah. It's just hard to pass it. Yeah.

Remy: everything will work just like before, and the workers when they will work in that tunnel, they will be able to take a picture which is gonna be geotagged with the right location already in their system, just like it works outside. It's, yeah, we recreate everything.

TJ: There's something fascinating about this that I think it's a little bit of an epiphany about what you guys are doing. It's not that...and I don't wanna put words in anybody's mouth here, but it's not a product. It is a the same way that GPS evolved. This is its own GPS, just in a different environment where GPS does not function. You know what I mean? So it's got the same sort of universal, you know, it's the same thing. Like if somebody uses GPS above ground to take a look at where their vehicles are on delivery, they're also gonna know when it gets stolen later, like same thing, it's all...

Yatri: It's an augmentation of the standard, really.

TJ: Yeah. And so consequently, it's the creation of an ecosystem, rather than the development of a technology, if that makes sense. And it's up to the individual industry and the individual potential end user to say, "How can I leverage this best?" And at the end of the day, that's probably a super effective way to do that. Fascinating. It's just fascinating.

Yatri: One that seems like pretty obvious as well is like, large underground parking facilities.

Remy: That's one of the application, too. Absolutely. So, yeah.

TJ: I mean, here in LA everywhere. I mean, my grocery store has an underground parking garage.

Yatri: Yeah, I mean, on the east coast, you don't see...

TJ: Oh, yes, New York. Yeah.

Yatri: as often because there's space for outdoor parking quite a bit. But it would work just as well in like, a five-story parking structure as with underground, right? Like, the canyon effect isn't being taken into account. Yeah. It's hard for you...

TJ: Oh, yeah. That's great.

Yatri: ...rebar, is the problem in the structure, right? So...

TJ: Yeah, exactly. Oh, that's way easier.

Yatri: Yeah. Absolutely. 

TJ: Now, probably this might be a trade secret, feel free to say no. So on a multiple story, something, would it be a separate environment, if you will, for each level?

Remy: It's more than that. What we create is a continuous environment.

TJ: Okay.

Remy: So let's say you have a...let's start with attenuator, it's easy to explain. So you can either give one position, or you can have or recreate the environment along the tunnel. And you can just duplicate that on extra layers, extra lines, etc., and you recreate the environment where like, depending on where you are.

TJ: Oh, okay, that makes sense. That's why I'm just an idiot, go there and to do it every time for each level.

Yatri: Well, that's what we're used to, right? That's what we're used to.

TJ: But it just gets 10 times harder as you go.

Yatri: But this is different. And that's such a big advantage here, right?

TJ: Well, and that's the thing is, and I think that's what I meant by creating the environment, is it's almost difficult for me to think of it in those terms. Like I'm so used to thinking of it as we are establishing a technology that will do this not creating the environment for the technology to live in. Which is a different...I think it's a different thing. That is all absolutely fascinating to me. Now we're gonna move on to what we like to call our lightning round. These are questions that have nothing to do with what we've been talking about. And we all three have to answer them. And we have to answer them fairly quickly. Does that sound like a plan?

Yatri: That's right.

Remy: Right.

TJ: What is the technology development or innovation, that you find most interesting? And again, it doesn't have to be related to anything we've talked about?

Remy: Well, I'm gonna talk about something which is related.

TJ: Perfect.

Remy: And so we see space growing really fast with new startups. And there are now new startups into positioning or basically trying to do the same thing as we do. But for the outside, meaning we create a new GPS for the outside. And a company like Xona Space System is definitely in my radar, because I think that what they do is great.

TJ: That's awesome. That's very cool. Yatri, what do you got?

Yatri: Man, you know, right now with all the sound issues we've been having, I actually really love the fact that Nvidia has a machine learning application for their GPUs. It strips out outside noise and the way it does is really, really clever. So...

TJ: Oh, it's doing it automatically? Oh, that's fascinating.

Yatri: Yeah. And it's really interesting, because it's using a part of your computer that you normally don't use for that to do something computationally expensive that has a practical application...

TJ: Because it's all happening on your GPU, I'm guessing. Yeah?

Yatri: Yep. And it's super practical these days, since we're all online, and there's lots of noise.

TJ: Yeah. Exactly. Oh, if I had to pick, I would say, right now, the one that's affected me the most today is the ability for me to replicate RAM speeds at double what they used to be, right?

Yatri: Oh, yeah.

TJ: Like, my RAM is on the box. It's, you know, what is it? 1600 actuality, but DDR4, I've got it running at 3200 megahertz. So for me, I'm able to get a lot more performance out of current gen hardware than previously. I hate to talk about PCs, because currently no one can build a PC because GPUs are the scarcest thing that has ever existed. All right.

Yatri: The next scarcest thing is a laptop with a GPU.

TJ: Oh, yeah. There's that, too. All right, next one. Next one. What's your favorite map?

Yatri: That's a tricky one. So when it comes out of the field, you're like map, what kind of map?

TJ: I'll go first. I'll give everybody some time. And it's only because we've been talking about it today. One of the things I miss about living in New York is the New York subway map. Like it is so wonderfully '70s still, even the modern ones are so wonderfully '70s. And when you first, I like it, because when you first look at it, you're like, "I don't know what this is trying to tell me. Like, I cannot decipher this." And then within 10 minutes, it's like, "Oh, I know exactly what's happening now." So if I had to pick one, that's it today.

Yatri: That's cool.

Remy: I'd say that my favorite map right now is B4UFLY, it's an app on iPhone allowing you to make sure that you can fly a drone where you want.

TJ: Okay, that's awesome.

Yatri: That's super smart. That's like super smart.

TJ: That's way cooler than the subway map.

Remy: I wanna comply with all the legislation, but I love flyinf drones.

TJ: Exactly. Yeah. Exactly.

Yatri: And it gets complicated too. So like yeah, having that as a service. That's amazing. That's genius.

TJ: I suppose it is.

TJ: Yatri, what do you got?

Yatri: You know lately my brother-in-law has a telescope and we've been getting some use out of it to get some clear skies. So I'd say right now the map of the moon where you see all the craters and everything's just really cool.

TJ: That's fascinating. All right, now the last one what is the best song about space?

Remy: "Rocket Man."

TJ: Rocket Man's a good one. "Major Town."

Remy: Yeah, "Major Town." Yeah.

TJ: Yatri?

Yatri: Me? Oh.

TJ: Relax. We both already talked, yeah. Yeah.

Yatri: I've been on The Killers kick recently, so I'll go by space, but I'll go by the "Spaceman," by The Killers.

TJ: Okay. All right. All right. All right. All right guys, that brings us to the end of today's episode of "Tec Trek," I want to thank our guests Remy Thellier so much for joining us. It was a pleasure having you, especially talking about something that is directly on the bleeding edge of positioning technology. And it's something that I always love learning about new things that puzzled me to the point of changing the way I think about something. And that's I think what this is gonna do, and that is very fascinating.

Remy: It was great talking to you.

TJ: No, it was a great pleasure, a great pleasure having you. So again, thanks for listening to the "Tec Trek." My name is TJ.

Yatri: I'm Yatri.

TJ: And thank you again for listening and to hear more episodes, subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Yatri: And to find out more, visit us at

TJ: Take care, everyone.