The journey to Munich from Cork involves a 200 mile drive to Dublin airport Saturday night. Not exactly a great start to be greeted with a flat tire in my driveway before setting out. Luckily, I had time to get it repaired. I collected Michal Raninec and we were on our way. We stopped in a pub on the way to Dublin, for a massive steak and to watch Ireland beat New Zealand in rugby for the first time in 111 years of trying—just the fuel we needed for our long ride.
We arrived at the show in Munich on Sunday morning around 11 am. The convention centre in Munich is huge, it takes about 45 minutes to walk from one end of the place to the other. It even has 2 subway stops. So a lot of walking was needed just to get to the ADI booth, and then more walking to locate our precious boxes of LEGO.
The unboxing was a tense affair, literally a make or break moment. But the LEGO survived the long trek to Germany in remarkable condition. Michal and I were happy bunnies as we unboxed building after building, with only very minor damage to repair. The temperature was barely above freezing, as all the hangar doors were open to allow trucks and forklifts into the exhibition hall. ADI parkas are sadly not supplied. Despite the solid state of the LEGO city it still took us two full days to set up the demos and debug the few installation issues. We did all this while surrounded by a large construction crew, busily building the booth. There was plenty of swearing at us in Polish as we peppered the crew with requests, including replacing some damaged HDMI cables they had installed. (They had no idea that Michal understood what they were saying). Colourful language aside, we were ready to see if the demo would work as we intended.
The show started Tuesday morning at 9 am. The reaction to the demo was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, the demo was so successful, many people didn’t even realize we had tons of technology integrated, they just wanted to take selfies of themselves with SMARTopolis. Not that the competition was all that stiff, especially if you just came from 200,000 sq. ft. of power supplies on display in the next exhibit hall. I’ve worked on power supplies in the past. Winding transformers is about as sexy as it gets.
The biggest accomplishment and sense of achievement was that we were able to display many different aspects of the ADI story with one demo. We were able to demonstrate how ADI is moving beyond silicon, with systems and modules in hardware, algorithms and the ADConnect cloud offering. We were able to highlight ADI’s focus areas within Industrial Sensing, Smart Cities, Buildings, Agriculture and Structural Health. Many people commented on it being their favourite demo at the entire show, both in terms of the visual impact, concept and execution. Fortunately, my boss was one of these. At least that is what he told me, he probably said the same to his other guys at the show.
A personal highlight was when a LEGO employee showed up. (And I thought I had the best job in the world). We spent the bones of an hour discussing many things, and I now have an open invitation to tour the Denmark LEGO factory (if I ever get up there). His role is developing the electronics for all LEGO products, from motors to sensors. Unfortunately for ADI, their requirements are not high speed/precision/accuracy, so we don’t do very much business with them.
To keep the LEGO theme going, we filled a traditional German beer glass, MaBkrug with LEGO studs, and had a competition where people had to guess how many pieces were inside. Amazingly the guy from LEGO guessed the closest. He estimated the volume of the glass, and divided it by the size of the stud (which he knew the dimensions of). Even more impressive was that he did this in less than 5 seconds. Earlier that day I watched three guys from our Analog Garage team spend an hour trying just to estimate the volume of the glass. Pi*r2*h isn’t easy to do in your head. The answer was 4876 pieces. The guy from LEGO guessed 4800.
It’s a Wrap.
Friday at 5 pm was a bittersweet moment. The end of a tiring week, and a long journey which began months ago, in the basement at home playing LEGO with my kids. The LEGO train had completed a total of 73km (46 miles). The Ferris wheel made 11,667 rotations. Everything was still working great at the end, although the cheese from the Smart Ag demo station was beginning to go off. I was extremely lucky to have such a brilliant team around me, which made it all come together.
Big thanks to:
- Mike Byrne and Mike Britchfield. Their trust to allow me take a big risk at such an important event.
- Melanie Huber and Bernhard Siegel, the show and booth coordinators in Munich.
- Tyler Schmitt for putting a superb structural health demo together.
- Michal Raninec for making my life very easy.
- Shane Clifford for the efforts on the ADConnect ThingWorx Mashups.
- Maithil Pachchigar, Erick Olsen, John Curtin, Antoine Descazot, Grainne Murphy, Mike Hennessy, Sudong Shu, Frederik Dostal & Shane Clifford for helping out on the demo all week.
It took us only 90 minutes to pack everything up. I immediately switched focus to my next task, heading to Vienna the next day to watch Ireland play Austria in a soccer World Cup qualifier.
That result was as successful as the demo; a victory for Ireland.
Click to Tweet:"Flat in Cork. Elated in Munich. A victory for Ireland. #ADIahead"