Dick van Smirren
"Imagine: no loneliness anymore". Technology takes away distance and brings people together – this is the credo of Dick van Smirren, manager of the Networks research department. But then that technology has to be 100% reliable. And that's where TNO comes in.
"My department conducts applied research in the field of mobile and fixed networks and new network architectures, ranging from DSL technology to 4G and 5G mobile networks as well as SDN and NFV technology. All this technology must be one hundred percent reliable to enable real contact. You’d think that after decades of research and technological development that we could create technical networks that perform flawlessly, but we’re still a long way off. Too often you still hear people complaining about the wifi playing up."
"There is always a human side to the development of technology that enables communication between devices. What are the needs of the user and how can we get as close to this as possible? That question always occupies us. For example, we are now working on virtual reality conferencing, remote online communication that feels like you're really together. You can touch things, so that you also feel that you are together with someone in another room.
That demands a lot from a network. Yet there are already possibilities. We use video conferencing a lot for our work. It could also be valuable to provide a 24/7 video connection so that two people who are physically separated, due to corona for example, can have a 'window to each other' for the small everyday contact that is so important to the experience of being connected."
"If you want to mean something to someone else, you don't have to look far. By calling or apping someone every now and then, you can give the other person the feeling that he or she is not alone. TNO can contribute to this by developing technology that makes it possible for this contact to be so lifelike that it actually connects. Will technology ever be able to replace human-to-human contact, so that no one will ever feel lonely again? That would be nice.
In any case, technology can ensure that online communication gets as close to that as possible. Using technology to connect is an important driver for me. You don't want to feel dependent on it, it should give you freedom. If you want to work on technology that makes the world a little better, then TNO is the right place for you."
"I feel a strong connection with the development of people. As a department manager but also as a coach. In that role, over the past fourteen years I have helped colleagues throughout the organisation to discover, develop and make even better use of their talents. I haven't finished learning either.
You have to keep challenging yourself. That brings you to places where you can discover in a different way what you can do with your talent. The vibrant energy of the people around me, the things we achieve here, the pride and enthusiasm that you then sense. I gain great satisfaction from being able to play a role in this."