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‘When I started in mobile, manufacturers were constantly trying to reinvent the phone’

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Samsung Ireland’s Quentin Doran O’Reilly discusses the changing world of electronics, a focus on foldable phones, and the ‘cool’ part of his job.

With 17 years’ experience in the mobile telecoms industry, Quentin Doran O’Reilly is now head of product management within the IT and mobile (IM) division for Samsung Ireland. This is the section of the electronics business that deals with mobile, tablet, PC and wearable technology.

After graduating from Trinity College Dublin, Doran O’Reilly went on to hold a a number of positions across the telecoms sector, from both an operator and manufacturer perspective. He has spent the last 11 years with Samsung Electronics in Ireland.

‘We live in an incredibly exciting time where technology is playing an ever-increasing role in both our work and personal lives’
– QUENTIN DORAN O’REILLY

What does your role entail?

It is a very broad remit, which gives me huge insight into the day-to-day workings of every aspect of the business. In this role, I have the opportunity to share my views on the market, identify where the next opportunity lies and, most importantly, ensure our portfolios fit our Irish customers’ needs.

It is my job to act as a bridge between Samsung headquarters in the UK and Samsung in Ireland. I help align the global strategy with that of the Irish market and I’m the guy who gets to introduce our customers to the latest innovations and devices from Samsung – which is, in a word, cool.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

Security is an area that is facing increased scrutiny both in and out of the technology sector. In the past, it has been viewed as primarily an enterprise issue, but we are seeing increasingly complex threats to individual’s digital security, such as fraud and phishing scams.

At Samsung, we take security seriously and understand the importance of delivering a safe and secure experience to our customers when using connected devices. We have a team of engineers that continually think of new ways to build on our security credentials, combating even the most sophisticated of threats in our connected world.

In order to challenge our assumptions, we also established the Samsung Mobile Security rewards programme, which offers incentives to researchers who identify potential vulnerabilities in our products.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

We live in an incredibly exciting time where technology is playing an ever-increasing role in both our work and personal lives. Within our IM division, there are some really exciting things happening.

When I started in mobile, manufacturers were constantly trying to reinvent the form factor of the cell phone. There were sliders, jack-knives, candy bars, clamshells and a whole host of devices with shapes that didn’t even have a name. When smartphones hit the market, it put an end to this – because, no matter what, you needed a single sheet of solid glass screen and that limited design innovation.

This limitation is now old and with the introduction of foldable glass technology, Samsung is leading the way in reinventing what can be done with a smartphone. Foldables are at the fore of innovative smartphone design. It reintroduces some of the old favourite designs, while bringing a whole new world of productivity and possibilities to the smartphone market.

In the wireless audio category, we are seeing huge growth as people consume media and use wearable technology as a health and fitness companion. Due to this increasing trend, we launched the Samsung Galaxy Buds family of products. The same applies to the smartwatch category, where the Samsung Galaxy Watch series offers the ability to not only track your fitness but also keep up to date with work and social media without needing to reach for your smartphone.

The reintroduction of our computing business in 2020 saw strong growth as the demand for laptops for home working and education grew. We expect this growth and opportunity will continue into 2022 and with our new Samsung Galaxy Book portfolio, we have an incredibly compelling line up for both end consumers and enterprise.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

It was circuitous, but then all the worthwhile journeys are. After college and about five years working in the public relations and event management sector, I made the move to Vodafone, where I discovered my love for working in technology.

I spent six very happy years there in the handset testing department. Through this role, I got involved in end-user issue resolution for Vodafone’s enterprise clients, which then allowed me to gain an understanding of the network side of the business.

In 2010, I took on a technical product manager role in Samsung’s Irish office and I’ve never looked back.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I lead a team of incredibly talented engineers and product managers. It’s my job to provide both short and long-term focus and direction, as well as give support and guidance where needed.

The method that has worked best for me is providing the ‘why’ at the outset of a project. Why do we need to resolve a given issue? Why do we need to launch this flagship? Why do we need a new process or system?

Once that’s understood, then we work on the ‘how’. This is solved through collaboration. I might have an idea of the ‘how’, but my team might have a better one. It’s always important to listen as my way is not always the only, nor indeed, the right way!

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Across the technology sector, there are issues with gender diversity, specifically in senior management positions. But there’s no question that we need greater diversity in the technology industry to reflect our customer base and bring together different perspectives.

We believe that innovation and growth are driven by an inclusive culture and a diverse workforce. To do this, we have brought about diversity initiatives such as conscious inclusion training for management, and various employee resource groups to retain and develop minorities in the workplace such as women, people of colour, and those in the LGBTQ+ community.

I truly believe that teaching our youth about diversity and inclusion in the workplace will help the next generation be even stronger. I got the opportunity to support the BT Young Scientist awards and the Schools Digital Champion Programme over the last few years, where I worked to impart this message and share the understanding that technology is for everyone.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

Over the years there have been many, I’ve been terribly lucky. There are likely 10 different people who have in one way, manner, shape or form, helped me to get where I am now.

The easy bit is getting advice, the hard bit is learning to listen and take constructive criticism and action where needed. No matter what the situation, you can take valuable learnings and next time you will do it better. It is important to learn from our failures and build on our successes. This idea has become a central pillar of everything I do.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Stuart Diamond’s Getting More is very good book to help learn about negotiation. It centres around treating people as people, not as jobs or projects or targets. It offers a different perspective on both personal and business life and is well worth a read.

The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters is another good one. It shares insights into listening to that voice in your head and understanding what drives your emotions and anxiety. In so doing, you can learn to be more positive and productive in your way of working. 

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Does coffee count? It is, unquestionably, central to my weekly arsenal.

I’ve started walking in the mornings, up to 10km before I start working. I find it centres me and helps to bring a bit of perspective. I don’t tend to bring any media or distractions with me, I just let my mind wander. I often get home with a plan for the day and solutions to problems that I had been struggling with.

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Chinese could hack data for future quantum decryption, report warns | Hacking

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Chinese hackers could target heavily encrypted datasets such as weapon designs or details of undercover intelligence officers with a view to unlocking them at a later date when quantum computing makes decryption possible, a report warns.

Analysts at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, say Chinese hackers could also steal pharmaceutical, chemical and material science research that can be processed by quantum computers – machines capable of crunching through numbers at unprecedented speed.

In a report titled “Chinese threats in the quantum era”, the consultancy says encrypted data could be stolen by “Chinese threat groups”. It says quantum-assisted decryption will arrive faster than quantum-assisted encryption, giving hackers an edge.

“Encrypted data with intelligence longevity, like biometric markers, covert intelligence officer and source identities, social security numbers, and weapons’ designs, may be increasingly stolen under the expectation that they can eventually be decrypted,” the report says. It says “state-aligned cyber threat actors” will start to steal or intercept previously unusable encrypted data.

However, it adds there is a “very small” likelihood that quantum computing could break the latest encryption methods before 2030. The analysts say quantum computing’s advantages over classical computing – the computing used in everything from laptops to mobile phones – are at least a decade away.

“Although quantum computers’ current abilities are more demonstrative than immediately useful, their trajectory suggests that in the coming decades quantum computers will likely revolutionize numerous industries – from pharmaceuticals to materials science – and eventually undermine all popular current public-key encryption methods,” the report says.

Quantum computing is viewed as an exciting development. For example, experts say it could predict accurately what a complex molecule might do and thus pave the way for new drugs and materials.

China is already a strong player in the field, and Booz Allen Hamilton says it expected the country to surpass Europe and the US – where IBM recently made the most powerful quantum processor – in quantum-related research and development.

“Chinese threat groups will likely soon collect encrypted data with long-term utility, expecting to eventually decrypt it with quantum computers,” the report says. “By the end of the 2020s, Chinese threat groups will likely collect data that enables quantum simulators to discover new economically valuable materials, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.”

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UK Space Agency asks kids to make a logo for first launches • The Register

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Good news for those in the UK with primary school-aged kids and wondering what to do when the next bout of home-schooling hits: design a logo for the first UK satellite launches.

2022 could be a big year for launching satellites from Blighty’s shores as the first launchers gear up for a historic blast-off. Assuming the facilities have been built and all the necessary consents given and boxes ticked.

There are currently seven possible spaceport sites across the UK, from Cornwall in England through Llanbedr in Wales and up to the Western Isles in Scotland. Cash has been lobbed Cornwall’s way to support a horizontal launch by Virgin Orbit from Spaceport Cornwall and more toward Scotland for Orbex’s ambitions to launch vertically from Sutherland.

Should all the approvals happen and construction be completed, there is every chance the UK might host its first launch at some point in 2022.

Hence the need for a logo and thus a competition aimed at inspiring kids to consider a career in the space industry. And, of course, it is all worthy stuff: “Logo designs,” intoned the UK Space Agency, “should reflect how data from small satellites can help inform solutions to climate change as well as generate a source of pride in the UK’s space ambitions.”

What, we wondered, could possibly go wrong?

We put this question to Rob Manuel, one of those behind web stalwart b3ta.com. B3ta has a long history of (among other things) image challenges, the results of which tend to pop up, often unattributed, in timelines around the world. Now heading into its third decade, the site continues to push out a weekly Friday newsletter to email subscribers.

In terms of how to engage participants, Manuel said: “If anyone asks me, and they rarely do, I encourage competitions to be as open as possible – publish the results as they’re coming in. Try and create a buzz that something is happening rather than everything going in the bin.”

“As for things going wrong,” he went on, “well, there’s always an element who’ll want to subvert it.”

The competition is open to children aged 4-11 and will run until 11 March 2022. There are two age categories (4-7 and 7-11) over 12 regions in the UK. Designs can be drawn, painted, or created on a computer and either submitted on the logoliftoff.org.uk site or via post. Some basic questions also need to be answered, and children can work on their own or in a team of up to four.

We asked the UK Space Agency if it would take Manuel’s advice and post entries ahead of the competition close. We will update should it respond. ®

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Video analytics platform RugbySmarts named ‘most investable’ at SportX

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The Galway tech start-up was one of two winners at the sport-focused pre-accelerator programme.

A start-up developing real-time video analytics for sports has been named ‘most investable’ at SportX, a new pre-accelerator in Ireland for founders with sports and wellness business ideas.

RugbySmarts took the title at the inaugural SportX showcase last week, securing a cash prize.

The Galway-based start-up aims to automate and simplify sports analytics using AI,  machine learning and computer vision, helping coaches to improve player and team performance with a platform that could also be transferred to other sports.

RugbySmarts was founded last year by CTO William Johnstone, who has previously worked with Connacht Rugby, and CEO Yvonne Comer, who is a former Ireland international rugby player.

Meanwhile, the award of ‘best impact on sport’ was given to TrojanTrack. This start-up, founded in 2021 by Dublin-based Stephen O’Dwyer, is looking to combine quantitative biomechanical analysis with deep neural network tech in the equine industry.

The aim is to gain feedback on a horse’s injury or gait imbalance without using invasive technology, such as motion-tracking software that requires markers to be attached to the animal’s skin.

‘Next-gen sports-tech entrepreneurs’

SportX was launched earlier this year by advisory firm Resolve Partners, Sport Ireland and ArcLabs – the research and innovation centre at Waterford Institute of Technology.

The aim of the pre-accelerator programme was to build on tech and business ideas for the sport and wellness industries, giving founders access to academic, clinical and commercial resources.

The six-week programme involved workshops and engagement with advisers, entrepreneurs, subject experts and investors. Participants also had the opportunity to pitch to the US-based Techstars Sports Accelerator.

At the SportX showcase last week, nine teams had five minutes each to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges.

The two winners were selected by the panel, which featured Gary Leyden of the ArcLabs Fund 1 GP, Sport Ireland’s Benny Cullen and Niall McEvoy of Enterprise Ireland.

At the launch of SportX earlier this year, Leyden said the goal of the programme was to find “the next generation of sports-tech entrepreneurs who can leverage the amazing enterprise and sports-related supports within the south-east of Ireland”.

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