As part of a series of articles, we spotlight the innovation of another innovator in our independent Avanci marketplace, WILUS.
WILUS, which became an Avanci licensor in 2021, is a Korean powerhouse of technological innovation. WILUS develops advanced technologies for wireless communications and immersive multimedia services, and contributes its technologies to international standards, including for 4G & 5G communications (3GPP releases 13-18), next generation wireless LAN, and for broadcasting and audio/video codecs.
We recently spoke with two inventors from WILUS to learn more about their innovation journeys, their focus for the future, and their advice to anyone interested in a career in research and development.
Jin Sam Kwak is the founder and CEO of WILUS, as well as being a core inventor for the company’s 3GPP related technologies. Following a PhD in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from Seoul National University in Korea, he spent a couple of years in the United States conducting research in wireless communications. He then joined LG Electronics, rising to be chief research engineer, and ultimately Sam left to found WILUS in 2012. Sam is a named inventor on more than two thousand patents and has made over a thousand technical contributions to standards development organizations (SDOs).
Minseok Noh is Principal Engineer at WILUS, and another core 3GPP inventor. After gaining his masters’ degree in electrical engineering from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), he joined LG Electronics, where he first met Sam. In 2012, Minseok joined KT, Korea’s leading network operator, as Chief Research Engineer, and then joined WILUS in 2015. Like Sam, he has spent much of his career as a delegate to SDOs, and is named on more than 400 patents declared to the 4G/LTE standard.
We asked both inventors what motivated them to follow a career in research and development.
For Sam, the world of mobile communications which was emerging while he was a student felt new and exciting. He felt driven to change the world through his knowledge and interest, and that “the best way to predict your future is to invent it” – a belief which ultimately became the company vision for WILUS.
Sam’s curiosity led him to post-doctoral research on topics such as multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antenna solutions. Joining LG Electronics at a time when they were looking to grow a next generation of research leaders gave him the opportunity to lead teams of researchers and continue to develop his skills, as well as participating in the standardization process and organizations such as 3GPP, IEEE 802, WiMAX Forum, Wi-Fi Alliance and MPEG. All of this reinforced the value of standardization in sharing inventions with the world.
Minseok remembers being interested at graduate school in the transition from CDMA to OFDM communications, and was excited to join LG Electronics as a research engineer investigating those topics, including spending time as a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto in Canada. He was also active in standardization activities, as a delegate for 3GPP LTE Advanced projects at LG Electronics and KT. Currently, at WILUS, he is leading the 3GPP team for the development of 5G New Radio (NR) Advanced technologies. Together with the other WILUS experts, he is strongly convinced that the proliferation of next-generation standards technology will bring us new opportunities in the future.
In 2021, WILUS became a licensor in the independent Avanci marketplace, sharing its 4G technologies with Avanci licensees. Among the many 4G technologies which WILUS has created, and which are included in the Avanci license, are contributions to the LTE Advanced Pro feature. Sam reflected on the decision to join Avanci, noting that the company had considered the best options for licensing its SEPs and concluded that Avanci’s profile and proven success made it the best choice. The efficiency that WILUS gained by licensing through Avanci’s open and transparent marketplace, rather than engaging in bilateral negotiations with individual licensees, meant that they could continue to focus their efforts on breakthrough R&D.
Underpinning their strategy is a close integration between the company’s inventors and their patent attorneys. They are physically co-located, a difference from many R&D organizations, and patent filing and prosecution is managed by an in-house team, led by Hyunju Son. Sam credits this for the establishment of a strong portfolio of patents, the monetization of which enables the company to continue to invest in new research.
Looking to the future, WILUS inventors, including Sam and Minseok, are working on evolved capabilities for 5G communications, including 5G New Radio (NR) Air Interface and 5G Advanced capabilities such as Sidelink / Coverage Enhancements and Flexible Duplex communications for Release 18. With the global commercialization of 5G, WILUS is striving for 5G Advanced to enable and bring out the new application and capabilities for end-to-end 5G networks and new devices & services such as immersive extended reality (XR).
In closing, we asked both inventors for their advice to young people at the start of their working lives, who may be considering research as a career. Sam believes that most young engineers want to change the world in some way, that they should find topics that they are really interested in, and of course, to participate in standards development work! For Minseok, he remembers that when he started his career, he had very little knowledge of the specialist areas he was asked to focus on. His advice is that you must persist, don’t give up, and that anything worth doing is usually very hard work at the start.