“Interview With:” is a new series of interviews with members of the CRFS team. We try to understand them and the areas they are responsible for in a bit more detail. We start by talking to RFeye SenS Product Manager, Danielle Simmons.
How would you describe your role in three words?
I only need two! Clearing hurdles. Whether it’s clearing stakeholder pain points, gathering internal and external buy-in and generating excitement, or working with the developers to decide how and when to tackle new features that most benefit our customers, it all comes down to overcoming challenges and getting things done. My work is as a product manager is meant to make everyone’s job easier, from the customers, to the developers, to the Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing, Operations and Management teams. And it’s a lot of fun!
The RFeye SenS Portable has evolved a lot over the last few years; what was the driving factor in the development?
As we see mainstream electronics pushing higher and higher in frequency, like the projected upper and lower 5G and additional ISM (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.) bands, signal bandwidths also increase. In plain terms, this means that there’s more “signal” to capture as you go higher in frequency. We first designed this product to be able to “look” wider, capturing wider signals and streaming them back in high fidelity. Since then, we’ve added deeper storage and live file indexing (“on-the-fly analysis”) to support long-duration recording operations. Additionally, we’ve improved the RFeye DeepView user interface (UI) to make it even easier to use, and moved everything from multiple hardware units into one unit capable of delivering hours or even days of high-fidelity recording capability.
What feature of SenS are you most proud of?
It’s not so much a feature as it is the UI itself. I can’t explain just how simple it is to use. It’s a beautiful UI that one of our talented engineers initially created as his own brainchild. It’s a gorgeous UI that’s refreshingly designed for modern-day users, specifically with RF engineers in mind. For example, you can navigate and scale through the various charts, select a signal, and set markers with just a click or scroll of the mouse. The traditional text charts are still there, but you don’t really need to use a keyboard at all unless you really want to. With signal presets and quick tools for frequency- or time-optimized displays, even the most novice users are up and recording in a matter of minutes.
What use cases have you seen recently for the SenS Portable?
We’ve seen a lot of interest in defense and security applications, whether for building signal libraries, gathering signals intelligence (SIGINT) or recording training events. It also fits in well with interference-hunting and TSCM applications like RFeye Guard – in both cases, the interfering or unlawful signal may only occur sporadically. The SenS Portable catches those signals with its long recording duration and its small, portable, discreet form factor, whether you’re hunting for avionics interferers, transmitters inside of a secure space, or even sources of interference in your manufacturing process or consumer environments.
How do you prioritize user feedback when considering what to build next?
Usually we try to aim for critical mass to make sure we’re focusing on changes that affect the largest numbers of users. We solicit feedback from customers and our Sales team, from the engineers themselves, and from what’s commercially available today. We try to differentiate between the different levels of push/pull factors, balancing customer needs, expectations, frustrations and wishlists. For example, we know customers expect some basic auto-triggering functionality, but large datasets mean that they need to be able to sort through massive datasets and quickly find what they’re looking for. Prioritizing that is always a balancing act. When in doubt, we ask the customers. Every release plan revolves around customer engagement.
What is next on your product roadmap?
Our early December release will include frequency triggering and a short pre-triggering buffer because it’s what most of our customers are asking for. We’re also expanding our file formats to include HDF5 (the ITU standard for I/Q files, used for multiple scientific data formats and directly readable in MATLAB) and extended WAV files, which are widely used, including in 3rd-party decoding software.
And finally, how do you have your coffee?
Either black or with milk…although I’ve currently been enjoying a squirt of coffee syrups in either lavender or pumpkin spice flavor!