Ryan Pratt, Founder and CEO, Guerrilla RF
MPD: Millimeter wave frequencies will be used for cellular communications for the first time in 5G. What challenges and opportunities does this present for the microwave industry?
The main challenge I see with millimeter wave cellular applications is in meeting the volume and cost demands of that market. Traditionally, millimeter wave front-end solutions have often included exotic low volume technologies. To accommodate the millimeter wave cellular market, high volume and low cost technologies will need to be used. A lot of innovation will be required to accomplish this.
MPD: What RF and microwave technologies do you feel will have the greatest impact in our industry overall between now and 2020?
I think wireless IoT will be a very important new target technology for the industry. Industrial and home automation applications of IoT will favor using many wireless devices, which will lead to some big opportunities in the next three years. I also think autonomous and traditional automotive applications will have a great impact through 2020 and well beyond. The sensors being integrated, and communications being added to cars and trucks, will drive major RF and microwave consumption in these markets.
MPD: After years of hype and little to show for it, IoT networks are actually being deployed in a variety of applications. Do you believe IoT is a major opportunity for the RF and microwave industry? If so, why and if not, why not?
As indicated above, I do believe IoT is a major opportunity for our industry. The applications will be extremely wide ranging, but the common thread will be wireless connections. As an example, the application of industrial IoT for inventory tracking will be transformational for the retail, logistics and transportation industries. As adoption ripples out, the RF and microwave opportunities will increase exponentially. I do agree that the hype cycle has been pretty high on IoT, and connected toaster ovens are probably not quite the killer app for IoT.
MPD: We believe that the defense industry will retain its crucial importance to the RF and microwave industry regardless of overall DoD budget constraints. Do you agree with this statement? Either way, please explain your reasoning.
I do agree that defense will always be very important to the RF and microwave industry. Defense applications have in the past, and will continue to fund, new technology developments that can be used in the commercial world for the foreseeable future. The defense market allows room for innovation and new technology discovery that the commercial world can’t always match. Also, like with everything else today, defense will always need wireless communications, command & control, and sensing.