Thursday, December 18, 2014

Part 2, Tracking the Course to Innovation with Zahir Abji

- Introduced Zahir Abji, CEO and Co-Founder of Guard RFID Solutions Inc
- Introduced Guard RFID Solutions Inc. and the markets to which they offer solutions
- Told of his family’s risky and dangerous journey from India to Tanzania
- Transitioned into Zahir’s work that helped revolutionize global emergency response and logistics, Zahir spoke of his work there with modesty.  MDI’s contribution was anything but modest.  

Part 2 of 2

Mobile Data International,  MDI, was one of those brilliant companies that sprung up, did significant work, was bought out, and melted into another brand.   MDI gave police and firefighters the ability to communicate through a mobile computing terminal in their vehicles.  This was a great achievement… unless your rap sheet was coming over MDI’s mobile terminal.  

Zahir Abji, CEO and Co-Founder of Guard RFID Solutions Inc
Zahir helped MDI develop mobile computing used by well-known global logistic companies.  He managed design for terminals used in taxicabs and recommended and developed one of the first handheld terminals capable of transmitting data, opening the gate for smartphones.
Running operations in Japan, Europe, Middle East, and Singapore with leading-edge technology, reliability, six sigma; becoming head of Research and Development and manufacturing for Motorola Wireless Modems; Chief Operating Officer; President for other companies providing hardware software, and interfaces with ERP systems; all of this coupled with market growth; these deep and broad experiences go into the company.  The roster of Guard RFID executives and board members runs with likewise experience. 

Guard RFID’s customer oriented global view has generated some significant work to support standards. Zahir explains, “The customer who has global operations will be uncomfortable in the absence of a framework of standards.  This is why we are involved in both IEEE and ISO. We helped the IEEE Standards Committee create the 802.15.4F standard.”

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.15.4F standard states: "To provide a standard for low cost, ultra low energy consumption, flexible and highly reliable communication means and air interface protocol for Active RFID and sensor applications. The air interface should be able to support a wide range of needs for which Active RFID systems can be useful and enable improved performance and flexibility for future mass deployments of Active RFID systems around the world."

Guard RFID insured that their physical layer is included in that standard.  Zahir commented, “Because of the attributes, our physical layer is a part of that standard.  One could say that we donated that physical layer royalty-free, without any license to the IEEE.  We also realize that IEEE is only one of the vehicles that’s looked at from a standards’ perspective.

“ISO appeared to be much more known and is respected on the non-healthcare side, especially in industrial areas, and it decided to adopt the same technology as the IEEE Standard to be included in the ISO 18000 – 7:2014 standard.  Dalibor Pokrajac, our Executive Vice President of Engineering, was a driving factor in both cases.  Again, royalty free standards are vital for adoptions and assists customers with global operations in selecting technology sources.  

“Guard RFID’s corporate knowledge, capability, and technology platform has allowed us to make major contributions because of the manner in which our technology is developed.  Healthcare tends to associate 433MHz with infant abduction.  That is within our capability but we are in manufacturing and Defense as well.  We have deployed tens of thousands of tags, helping customers with return on investment and efficiencies with personnel, materials, tools, equipment, and finished goods. 

“One place we believe we have an advantage is the power required to broadcast over a specified range.  Our tags can be smaller than WiFi because WiFi takes a comparatively larger battery due to much higher transmission power required to achieve the same range.”

When asked about the competition of other technologies in comparison to 433MHz Zahir responded, “Beside lower power requirements, there is a huge difference between UHF lower frequencies and frequencies above 1GHz.  UHF frequencies are very long wavelengths. Physically that means lower frequencies have longer range and perform better around large metal surfaces.  UHF has greater penetration. Frequencies above 1 GHz do not perform this way.  It’s just nature.  Requirements for longer range, great performance around metal surfaces, better penetration, and inclusion in both IEEE and ISO standards, those are Guard RFID strengths.”

I asked Zahir to provide some closing thoughts.  He concluded, “There are reasons that our technology has been adopted by these leading standards organizations.  It shows that Guard RFID’s technology is superior to many other solutions out there.”

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tracking the Course to Innovation with Zahir Abji

Tracking the Course to Innovation with Zahir Abji
Part 1 of 2

Zahir Abji is the CEO and Co-Founder of Guard RFID Solutions Inc., a software and hardware provider specializing in tracking people and objects using the 433MHz frequency spectrum.  Though healthcare, mostly, associates 433MHz with infant abduction prevention, RFID Guard offers solutions in Manufacturing and Defense as well.  Understanding Zahir’s path to CEO and Co-Founder is very important to understanding what drives the company’s deep work in developing international standards and delivering reliable and quality solutions. 

Zahir Abji is the CEO and Co-Founder of Guard RFID Solutions Inc
Zahir was born in Tanzania.  Tanzania is bordered on the north by Kenya and Uganda, on the south by Mozambique, and to the east by the Indian Ocean. His grandparents migrated there from India in the early 1900s, making the 5,100 kilometer (3, 168 miles) journey from Gujarat, India to Tanzania.  “They weren’t sure where they would end up,” remarked Zahir.  Yet, they struck out anyway on an intrepid search for better opportunities.

In those days, automobile ownership by consumers was rare.  Writing a letter and putting it in the post was the way to communicate.  A family member getting on a boat to embark on this type of venture, minimally, meant loved ones would seldom see or hear from him or her.  In some cases, it meant never.  Nowadays, not hearing from a son or daughter for more than a day can send some into panic mode to skype friends or check social media statuses.  Imagine not hearing from someone for months or years.  Britain was building a railroad from Kenya to Uganda.  Zahir’s family, tradesmen mostly, struck out from India to take part in that expansion despite the dangers.

They settled in Tanzania where they built new lives and started businesses.  This includes a restaurant, a bakery, and a factory that made soft drinks.  His family maintained this entrepreneurial spirit though World War I, World War II, and the political upheavals that often comes with transitioning from under a colonial power to independence.  That is the persevering background from which Zahir set off to attend The University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK.

His choice of discipline was Biomedical Electronics.  This took much study in understanding anatomy, physiology, and the physical and chemical effects different types of energy have on human anatomy.  The course of study landed Zahir his first job in designing avionic systems for tactical and commercial aircraft.  The contrast of medicine versus weapons is not lost to Zahir.  “The availability of jobs in his area of study was not good at the time in England.”  He took the opportunities presented.

His work with military avionics placed him in an environment in which design specifications and the manner in which design was approached had very strict requirements.  He was awash in quality and reliability practice in each phase.

Zahir set his sights on North America where he joined a Canadian company called MDI (Mobile Data International).  This is where contrast turned to irony.  All of the discipline and techniques he learned paid off in work that had global implication for medical and police first responders.

Zahir spoke of his work there with modesty.  MDI’s contribution was anything but modest.  

Part 2 Coming Soon