Talking R&D with Felix Lun
Research and development is a critical part of what we do here at StretchSense — we’re always pushing the boundaries of technology, looking for better ways to refine, develop and produce our existing solutions.
At the head of our 15-strong R&D team is Felix Lun, who joined StretchSense towards the end of 2016 and has since become an essential part of the company.
What was your background before starting with StretchSense?
I started my life as an automation engineer, basically making machines do cool things to help the company I worked for make their product. I was given a lot of product testing to do as well, which ended up being an interesting position with one foot in manufacturing and one foot helping out the design team.
I then went to work for another company which gave me a proper entry into the world of R&D, before taking on the role at StretchSense.
So what exactly does the R&D manager do?
R&D in general is about going from zero to one. We try and find ways to do things — and new things to make — that have never been done before.
We work out the ways to make that first thing, then pass that over to manufacturing and product development to refine it, taking our “one” to one hundred, one thousand, one million and beyond.
What does an average workday look like for you?
There isn’t really an average workday, but there are some general trends. As a department manager, providing support for people is a big part of my job description.
The hardest thing for me to do is not do the job directly — being an engineer, I just want to dive into technical problems headfirst and try to solve them. But my job is to enable other people to do that: by finding out where the blockers are and removing them, and trying to find other ways to make the team’s lives easier.
What is the greatest challenge in being R&D Manager?
StretchSense is a very fast-moving company that deals with very cutting-edge technology. Anything — commercially or technologically — can turn on a dime, so figuring out how to deal with that and still maintain a coherent plan and budget can be very challenging.
What’s your favorite thing about working here?
Definitely the people. No matter how hard the technical challenge is, I know that the people that I’m working with, in my team or other teams, are all good people who are always trying to help no matter what.
If you weren’t doing R&D for a living, what would you be doing instead?
I would probably be making music, but unfortunately that’s something you spend money on, not make money from — unless you’re very lucky. I started off with classical, have done a bit of rockabilly, got drawn into some strange psychedelia, branched out into heavy metal, and now I’m doing retro 80s-inspired synthpop.
How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
It’s important to remember to actually maintain that balance and switch off outside of work, although it’s definitely a little rush when something breaks around the house and I realize “Hey, I know how to fix that!”
I play and write a lot of music, and I am absolutely nuts about fencing. I’ve been doing that for about ten years — it’s starting to take a toll on my body now, but I’ll see how long I can go before my knees and my arms give out.
What excites you the most about the future of StretchSense?
The speed at which we’re developing the technology, and at which use cases for the technology are being developed by other people. These two things go hand-in-hand in that we’re very rapidly finding better ways to make our product, make it function better and make it fit into more market niches.
We’re at a point now where we’re starting to get people using our sensors to make products that I can look at and think “I want one, when can I buy that?” Being part of a company that’s on the cutting edge is a really cool thing.