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Dr. Daniel Opila

Bose Corporation

Photo of Bose headquarters
Bose Headquarters

I started at Bose after finishing my masters degree at MIT. It was my first permanent full-time job, and I loved it. Bose is located in Framingham, Massachusetts about 20 miles west of Boston. The main cluster of buildings sits on a large hill that overlooks the surrounding area. If you want to mail them something they have no number or street, the address is simply "The Mountain, Framingham MA."

I worked in a group called New Ventures that was tasked with developing new products unrelated to audio. Bose makes a wide range of audio products, including a range of speakers for homes up to stadiums, noise-canceling headsets for consumers and the military, car stereo systems, and more. As a byproduct, they developed technical expertise in many areas including signal processing, electromagnetic actuation, control, power electronics, etc. The New Ventures Group was trying to leverage this expertise and build technologically innovative products in other applications.

Image of Bose chair
Bose Ride Active Vibration Isolation
Seat

My main task was developing new products, turning ideas into prototypes and starting them down the road to full development and production. We started with a list of several hundred ideas. Small teams of engineers and business-types would do a quick analysis of each idea for technical and market feasibility. As ideas were eliminated or tabled, the more promising candidates that made the cut would receive increasing attention. I did everything along the way: feasibility calculations, quick mock-ups, cost estimates, functional tests, design, detailed analysis, initial prototypes, and later generations of beta prototypes.

Image of Bose isolation seat
Bose Ride Active Vibration Isolation Seat

I served as a general-purpose engineer, doing whatever the product required. I focused on mechanical and controls work, but also designed and specified actuators, sensors, power supplies, and other electrical components. I carried out all sorts of analysis: thermal, fluid, structural, vibration, power consumption, battery life, durability, safety, redundancy and reliability. Most of the projects had about a three month timeframe, so I worked on a variety of products for many different markets.

One of my major projects (and the only one I can discuss) was an active suspension for a truck seat called Bose Ride. This project was only recently made public by Bose in January 2010, see my publicity page for some links. Drivers of tractor-trailers suffer from an extreme vibration environment that causes fatigue and back problems. The passive spring and damper in a normal seat are replaced with an electromagnetic actuator. This allows superb vibration isolation and a much more comfortable ride with less fatigue.

Image of Bose Electromagnetic Active Suspension
Bose Electromagnetic Active Suspension

The truck seat project confirmed my desire to specialize in controls and inspired my to return for my doctorate. It was a challenging problem that required careful mechanical, structural, and controls analysis, coupled with actuator, amplifier, power supply, and sensor design. Some of the technology is an offshoot of another project, a fully active electromagnetic suspension for passenger cars.

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