The IE Interview JP Carney, Revolabs Natural progression
James McGrath looks at how Revolabs co-founder JP Carney, who recently moved from COO to CEO at the company, has used his experiences to progress in the world of professional audio
What was your first experience of the wireless technology industry, and what did you get from it? My career started in wireless technology, but not necessarily the audio side of it. I used to work for Raytheon, where Martin Bodley [Revolabs co- founder] and I first came to know each other. Raytheon sent the two of us to complete a Master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, which had a strong RF and microwave programme.
After that, I worked with wireless semiconductors for a while. I then progressed into the design of wireless chipsets before eventually marketing chipsets for companies like M/A-Com and Analog Devices. In the early days of my career, wireless was something cool, different and new; I grew up in the era where cellphones went from nothing to everywhere. In fact, that was one of the factors that led us to starting Revolabs. A lot of unbelievable
technology was born from the development of cellular phones. This rise produced a proliferation of the many different globally recognised wireless standards that governed the technology. It was these standards that allowed wireless technology to grow and gave our company the opportunity to use the tried and tested technology to develop our own wireless microphone solutions.
What prompted you and Martin Bodley to start up Revolabs? Following our time together at university and Raytheon, Martin went to Danish company GN Netcom, which produced Bluetooth headsets as part of its product line. After he left, we started to talk about some OEM [original equipment manufacture] work. Martin had heard negative feedback from customers regarding audio quality at boardroom level, and this led us to start thinking about how we could solve the issue. We came up with the concept of getting the microphones off the table, out
of the ceiling and away from the wire where they’re stationary, and moving them closer to the user. The way a microphone works is simple: the closer the device is to you, the better off your audio will be because the signal-to-noise will be better. Our company’s philosophy is ‘natural interaction’ – we wanted the user to be free to move around rather than be hunched over a wired mic.
With our backgrounds in wireless, Martin and I were able to come up with a wireless microphone solution. Of course there were already wireless mics on the market, but no one had developed the technology for conference room applications. We were able to bring the right technology into the boardrooms to attack the problem.
Initially we started off with multichannel systems for high- end boardrooms, which were all wearable, and the customer feedback was great. Now we’ve expanded to provide solutions from the desktop all the way through to the boardroom, with the addition of network- compatible options.
How has the industry changed during Revolabs’ lifetime in terms of applications?
When we first started to sell to the high-end corporate boardrooms, people were happy buying single products and combining them with products from other companies.
Several of the big players have now entered the industry pushing the unified communications (UC) banner, putting more pressure on the other companies. People don’t look at it as ‘products’ anymore, they’re now
‘solutions’. An exception to his would be in corporate boardrooms because integrators and architects design in a product manner rather than a solution. But crossover is starting to happen which is moving higher and higher up the application areas. People are now viewing audio in their
JP Carney – a
brief biography . Co-founder of Revolabs, JP Carney has more than 15 years of experience in wireless technologies
. Previous experience includes holding key positions at Raytheon, M/A-Com and, most recently, Analog Devices
. Carney has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, respectively, as well as an MBA from Babson College
conference rooms as part of a bigger solution or a bigger system within the building. To an extent we have created a boardroom solution but not on the scale of the bigger players. Our newest generation of product, the HD family, incorporates network
integration so you can remotely monitor and control the box from outside your network or within your network.
‘We were able to bring the right technology into the boardrooms to actually attack the problem’
As a manufacturer how significant an issue are differences in regulatory frameworks, frequency bands and so on in different territories? This comes back to how we design the product and its technology. A lot of the guys in the pro audio space have UHF/VHF licensed bands, whereas we use the ISM band, which is an unlicensed band in the US and most of the world. Our frequency is 1.9GHz, and there are variations in this frequency between the US and Europe and different parts of
the world, but the band itself is used worldwide.
This is a big thing for us because a lot of customers have a global presence, and typically if these companies want our audio solutions installed in an office in one country, then they often want a similar solution installed in an office in a different country.
How do you see Revolabs’ position in the market, and how do you intend to develop it? We’re developing products from the top to the bottom so that we can provide UC solutions. We are constantly looking towards these places and applications where people are collaborating, whether it’s at your desktop, a conference room, or an auditorium. We ask ourselves if we have the right solutions available for those specific applications. One of the great things we offer now, because we’re developing solutions from the desktop to the highest-end boardroom, is a simple microphone interface. We feel that is the key to enterprise because people don’t want to have to learn about the devices; they want to walk into a
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conference room or
boardroom and be able to use the equipment available, instantly.
Do you think much will change now Martin has left the CEO’s chair? I don’t think you’ll see a massive change in the company. We’ve brought in some extremely talented people over the past few months; Tim Root, who has previous experience working for Polycom’s video division, has come in as CTO. He’ll be leading up the business development side. We’ve also brought in a new COO, Marc Cremer, to backfill for myself. He has an extensive background in wireless technology, software, and semiconductors.
These guys are very seasoned and I think they’re going to bring a lot in to the picture, but at the same time nothing is set to change in terms of the culture of the company. We won’t lose Martin’s creativity at the high end because he’s still going to be part of the board and he’ll still have a big part to play with the strategic running of the company. IE
. JP Carney discusses his proudest achievement and his unfulfilled ambition
IE May 2012 37
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