Interview with Zahir Abji, CEO of GuardRFID Solutions
1. Brief Company Profile
GuardRFID develops Active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, readers, and middleware that are used to deliver reliable, secure, and easy-to-install real-time locating systems (RTLS) solutions to Healthcare, Industrial and Enterprise clients.
GuardRFID’s products help our customers and solution partners accurately track and locate equipment, materials, and people for enhanced automation, workflow, monitoring and security solutions – all on one flexible, standards-based platform.
GuardRFID has also developed the most advanced infant security and patient protection system on the market today. Installed in hospitals throughout the U.S., the TotGuard and SafeGuard systems represent best-in-class security, reliability, patient comfort, and caregiver usability.
Founded in early 2007 by an experienced team of RFID industry veterans, GuardRFID introduced the first cost-effective, disposable Active RFID tags to the healthcare market eliminating the headaches associated with infection control while delivering superior, nuisance-free security.
2. When was your company founded and what is the approximate employee size?
The company was founded in March 2007, and we currently have 17 employees and two contractors.
3. What are some major challeges that RFID technology will be able to address in the near future?
The primary challenge for Active RFID is the absence of standards, which deter its rapid adoption. This is being resolved with IEEE working on a standard, and also the DASH7 Alliance continuing to improve their ISO18000-7 standard. The technology has been expensive to own, also discouraging potential adopters who needed to see ROI in a reasonable timeframe. This is changing rapidly, as companies such as GuardRFID are able to offer Active Tags in large volumes for under $10 a tag. Given that Active RFID provides the ability to track and locate in real time, it offers a great deal more functionality than passive tags or barcodes, for example. The combination of a much lower investment and greater functionality is becoming attractive to adopters of the technology.
4. Where are we in the life cycle of RFID investing and development?
I believe that we have passed the early adoption stage of Active RFID, and we have “crossed the chasm” as it were. The usefulness of the technology has been well demonstrated in the last few years, especially due to major adoption by healthcare facilities for location and tracking of assets and also for patient security applications. The technology has begun to be deployed in the enterprise and industrial sectors, and we expect that demand will rise sharply as the economy continues to recover.
5. Do you see any specific industries or geographic markets that will propel demand in RFID technology over the next 3 years?
Healthcare continues to drive implementation of Active RFID, primarily in the US. However, we feel that the industrial and commercial sectors will outstrip deployments in healthcare in the next three years. For example, the technology allows industrial adopters to benefit greatly by utilizing it for applications such as inventory control, manufacturing visibility, security, loss prevention and others. Applications such as “hands free” access control, those pertaining to safety and security of staff, as well as asset management are attractive benefits for commercial enterprises, and are beginning to proliferate.
6. How do you see the entire RFID marketing shaking out over the next few years? How big is the market opportunity?
The market opportunity is reported to be in the billions of dollars in several studies released by eminent market analysts. Passive RFID will continue to replace barcodes as the preferred method for tracking items in close proximity, but Active RFID will provide the ability to track, locate and secure items with greater range, and deliver superior performance. Deployments will consist of both technologies augmenting each other for a more holistic solution that provides a good return for the user.