Techopia Live: Inside TÜV SÜD’s testing labs in Kanata North

Techopia Live went inside one of Kanata North’s longest-standing test facilities this week, where we learned how German operator TÜV SÜD is helping local firms bring products to market.

In perhaps the most interesting setting in Techopia Live’s history, our interview was captured inside TÜV SÜD’s 10-metre ambient-free semi-anechoic chamber. It’s a technical mouthful, to be sure – but the well-insulated room, which looks and sounds like it’s ripped straight from the sci-fi scripts of Gene Roddenberry, cuts off all radio waves from the world outside, allowing the operators to accurately measure electro-magnetic radiation emissions from products such as smartphones or other telecom equipment.

That’s an important test when it comes to certifying products for market sale, a process tightly regulated by guidelines from Industry Canada and the U.S. Federal Communication Commission. Other testing capabilities in TÜV SÜD’s chambers will bombard tech with heat, electricity and other disruptive forces to test products’ durability in the harshest of elements.

Kanata North companies such as Nokia and Ericsson lean on the TÜV SÜD facilities as a critical step to getting products to market and ensuring their tech will last and won’t disrupt sensitive infrastructure elsewhere in the world.

“Big complex systems, especially the sort that we test here… could bring down the backbone of the network,” said Stephen Tippet, a compliance lab manager at the TÜV SÜD facilities.

Tippet’s tenure at the site stretches back to the lab’s early days, when it was first set up by Nortel for in-house testing in the 1990s. Over the past two decades, the facilities have changed hands several times, though the onsite operators have remained largely the same – just with different logos on their shirts.

His post at the testing site has given Tippet a unique perspective of the Kanata tech park’s evolution: Nortel’s dissolution, for example, brought in a swell of telecom giants to pick up its intellectual property and talent. As a result, while the brand names may be changing, the heart of the tech park and its R&D work in the telecom sector has remained largely consistent.

“The individuals who come here and test are often the same people, the people who test are often the same people – we all work for different companies now,” he said.

Since TÜV SÜD took over the labs last year, Tippet said the German firm has started to hire sales staff at the testing facilities to attract new companies to the site. The company is also adding new capabilities to its repertoire, such as tests focusing on the now-ubiquitous wireless technologies that weren’t around when the facilities opened decades ago.

To hear more about the work happening inside TÜV SÜD’s facilities, watch the video above.