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Wednesday November 10th, 2021

Interview with Ivan Reid


Introducing our next interviewee in our ongoing look at the people behind the B-Secur brand – Senior Embedded Software Technical Specialist, Ivan Reid. Ivan, who has been with us since 2017, shares insight into his role leading the Embedded Software Team as well as his thoughts on what is next for B-Secur.


Tell us a little more about yourself, Ivan

I’m married to Becky who’s a Galway Girl “Of a day-I-ay-I-ay” with a dislike for unity and prime numbers, and that’s why we have 4 adorable, enthusiastic, competitive kids. Monopoly is banned in our house! I’ve always had a passion for computers. My childhood computer history included a ZX Spectrum 128, Sega Master System and an Intel 486 PC running Windows 3.1

Can you tell us more about your professional background?
After graduating from Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast I started my career as an Embedded Software Engineer in the Telecoms industry. I then spent 15 years in the Automotive industry developing Electronic Control Unit firmware for some of the World’s top car companies. I have fond memories of working with some very meticulous German Engineers. In 2017, I began my journey with B-Secur. I’m a Senior Embedded Software Technical Specialist but if you ask me on the street I’ll just say I’m a Software Engineer. I’m also the Team Leader for the Embedded Software Team.


What do you get out of working as an embedded software engineer at B-Secur that you couldn’t get from any other kind of work?
At B-Secur I’m working on cutting edge, innovative technology. Our technology is well suited for integration into wearable Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and that’s cool. There’s a good mix of demo and commercially intent projects, which keeps the work fresh. We develop functionality to handle high speed data streams, store log files, display fancy graphics on a tiny OLED screen and talk to mobile apps via Bluetooth. There’s also some pretty complex Digital Signal Processing (DSP) algorithms, which are always challenge to develop in C. If it was easy then it would be no fun!

The work at B-Secur is fast paced and lightweight but we still use Best Engineering Agile practices. There’s minimal bureaucracy and I enjoy setting the direction for the Embedded Software Development. It’s 4 spaces not tabs!


B-Secur has undergone rapid expansion and is pioneering changes in the healthcare sector. How vital is your role of analysing and enhancing the efficiency, stability and scalability of HeartKey®?
As a quick recap, HeartKey® is our ECG algorithms wrapped up in a flexible software library format that we license to our customers. I’ve been the Lead Software Engineer on the HeartKey project since we kicked it off almost 4 years ago. I’m an Embedded Software Engineer at heart, efficiency is baked into the design of the HeartKey® library.


“The more efficient the library is, the less resources it consumes, which allows it to be used on a wider range of Embedded Microcontrollers (MCU). That’s good for our customers, and allows them to use the majority of the MCU resources for their own features.”


We test and measure resource consumption on the target processor core, bottle necks are then be identified and optimised out. I know from experience how much valuable development time gets sucked up dealing with customer issues. At B-Secur there’s a big focus on quality, delivering the right functionality on time and avoiding technical debt. I can’t stand mind-numbing repetitive tasks, I joke that I’m lazy and love to automate processes so that I have less work to do! There’s a great sense of achievement in automating something that takes a fraction of the time to run that would have taken a lot longer if I had to do it manually. We use Continuous Integration, to run our builds, tests and releases. If needed we can turn around bug fixes very quickly.

But it’s not just about Embedded Software, all the B-Secur Technology teams have worked together to create the HeartKey® Library. Having dedicated teams that focus on the ECG Algorithms, Electrode Performance, Embedded Software, Validation and Verification mean we have created a fully validated, best in class algorithm suite that runs in real time on consumer devices with dry electrodes.


What would you consider to be your greatest success in using your skills to date?
I started with B-Secur when they landed a round of investment and had the money to hire their first in house technical employee. There were specialists for each of the main areas. Work that was outsourced could now be brought back in house. It was exciting being part of this small team and using our expertise to set the technical direction of B-Secur.

I’ve always been open to learning and experimenting with new development tools and languages, expanding my skill set, which makes my life as a software developer easier. I always try to understand the big picture. If I know how a feature will be used, then I’ve got a better chance of developing the correct end to end functionality. The Embedded HeartKey® Library project would be a good example of a project that has required a broad skill set: Embedded Systems, C, C++, Java, DSP, scripting, build tools, automated testing and a lot of hard work.


As you look ahead in the next several years, what do you see as B-Secur’s priorities?
We have innovative technology and there’s more in the pipeline. It’s challenging for scale up companies even with that innovative technology to disrupt and break through into the market. We’ve done very well so far. We need to scale up to compete with the big boys. So we need to grow the teams, but at the same time maintain our high performance.

For anyone interested in technology, Software Development is great profession to get into. There’s a big demand for skilled employees, and companies are competing to hire and retain the best talent. We have some of the best talent at B-Secur, so if you are interested in joining us, check out our website for the current job opportunities.