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The R&D and product development landscape: Black Box

John Hickey, senior director of R&D and KVM Systems, Black Box details how the company is driving innovation through machine learning and artificial intelligence.

What impact has the pandemic and its continuing aftereffects had on the company’s approach to R&D and product development?

One result of the pandemic for Black Box R&D has been a more hybrid approach, from a work perspective, as well as product development to support remote working. One example would be products that allow people hundreds of kilometres away to operate equipment in an OB truck as if they were physically in the truck.

What are the biggest challenges you are facing in R&D and product development/deployment in the current landscape?

Supply chain challenges have been receding, and now the primary concerns are the standard R&D challenges of productivity and efficiency. Leveraging modern tools and work practices, it is possible to organise distributed teams. The challenge in this case is to identify what work is best done face-to-face and what work can be done efficiently remotely.

Where do you see the most opportune areas for innovation in your area of the market, and what tech/solutions will drive that development?

Making operators’ workflows more intuitive and transparent is a key area of R&D, and we see room for innovation in the display of multiple sources of information on different screens and in implementation of aids that alert operators to areas of interest. ML/AI is an exciting area of potential research in terms of how it can help create sources of actionable intelligence for operators.

What are you working on currently that excites you as a product team?

The Black Box team is building multi-source visualisation and KVM systems for operators, enabling them to see and interact with multiple sources on the same screen or across multiple screens, as well as to change their workspace or workflow at a click or touch of a screen.