The JOGO Line-Up With Michaël Devid
Behind every successful company, there is a winning team. At JOGO, this is a passionate bunch with the drive to revolutionize the world of football as a collective. In The Line-Up, we would like to show off the brilliant people behind JOGO, starting with Michaël Devid.
“It’s a cliché, but I turned my hobby into a career”, says Michaël Devid, flashing a broad smile behind his desk. Full of gadgets and electronics, his desk looks like the dream workspace of every fanatical engineer. “I enjoy making the world a little better with technical solutions. That’s my contribution to society.”
JOGO’s technician names ‘connecting people and technology’ as one of, if not his best skill. Born in Curaçao but raised in the Dutch town of Zetten, Devid studied electrical engineering at the Hogeschool Utrecht before he started his career as an embedded engineer. That’s also his official job title at JOGO.
For novices: an embedded engineer is concerned with the design, testing and implementation of software and/or hardware in an embedded system, a computer system concealed from the user. Through sensors, connection and built-in intelligence, the next generation of electronics is made smarter.
An excellent example of that is a finger sensor that Devid developed at the Arnhem company Inspiro, to make the life of distribution centres’ employees better. “The sensor allowed employees to automatically steer their order picker forward, which made it easy for them to put crates on and take them off without having to climb back onto the machine each time. That made the order picking process much more efficient.”
Efficiency was also the magic word for a smart wristband that Devid produced for the Delft-based start-up Shake-On.“The Bluetooth sensor ensured that people immediately exchanged information when they shook hands. Afterwards, you could see in an app which people you had met that day. An automatic business card, ideal for networking events.”
JOGO Insole Sensors
Devid is now using all these experiences and knowledge for his new project: developing JOGO’s insole sensors, to track, analyse and improve youth football players effectively.“It’s a big but fun challenge. Something that was never done before: monitor a youth player so systematically”, explains JOGO’s embedded engineer.“Data is needed to do it correctly, and the JOGO insole sensor must provide that. To put it simply, we have to convert a footballer’s movements into hard data.”
“Therefore, we first had to find out what is precisely needed to measure a footballer accurately. Essentially the algorithms required to collect the necessary data”, Devid continues. “But also the design itself is essential. The sensor has to fit in the sole and meet all kinds of requirements: it has to be compact, robust, wireless, affordable and low-power. We’re constantly looking for the right balance. A nice compromise, so to speak.”
It’s quite the work, but Devid is not on his own. JOGO colleagues Maarten van Dootingh and Anton de Bode assist him, each playing their own role in the project: the team leader is responsible for the hardware, Van Dootingh takes care of the firmware (the software programmed into the sensor), and De Bode does the calculations. “Anton has a lot of experience with algorithms and machine learning. We know each other from Shake-On, where we developed that low-power wristband. Together we combine small hardware knowledge with the power of algorithms. That’s quite a niche sector.”
‘World Cup Viewer’
Despite the trio working daily to revolutionize football’s future, they have little to do with the beautiful game itself. “We’re all nerds, not sporty. Unless you consider playing video games a sport”, laughs Devid who describes himself as a ‘World Cup viewer’. “I only watch football when the Dutch national team is playing. But when we have a Zoom meeting with the rest of the team we always choose a football background. A nice inside joke.”
However, the insole sensor project is anything but a joke for JOGO’s tech team. The diehard engineers want nothing more than to ‘make fun things’, as Devid calls it. “Personally, I think it would be really cool if our sensor could tell whether an eight-year-old child has the X factor to become a good football player. That is also what computers and machine learning are so good at—seeing patterns in the chaos that we, humans, miss.”
The Promised Land
Although JOGO is currently the top priority, Devid is already looking further ahead. He would like to commit his future to China, the promised land for tech enthusiasts. “I have many contacts in Shenzhen, the tech capital of the world. All the electronics components and chips come from there. They have a lot of production knowledge, while we have a clear vision and software expertise. I would love to strengthen both worlds, East and West, through cooperation. That already happens to some extent at the multinational level, but not at the SME level. That is where the future lies.
A move to China is also a possibility. “I love the people, culture and mentality”, motivates Devid, who has been taking an evening course with his wife to learn Chinese for several weeks. “Moreover, with China, I always have the idea that I am looking into the future. The Chinese also really have a drive for change, to establish something. That suits me.”