In the short-term future, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, so it is emphasized with urgency every day that the best course of action is social distancing. Our product is a reminder, allowing you to maintain social distancing status at all times. The EGOpro Active Tag uses UWB technology to maintain CDC recommended guidelines to send a vibration to alert both tags, and the people wearing them, of a breach in social distancing. Ideal for factories, warehouses and construction sites where it is difficult to measure the minimum distance between employees, it has everyday applications for retail and is even being used in a museum setting.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Hruskoci.
Rob Hruskoci is the owner and CEO of Advanced Industrial Marketing (AIM). With more than 22 years of experience in the industry and an educational background in engineering from Purdue University, he understands the needs of his clients’ business and brings unique technology solutions to market.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I founded Advanced Industrial Marketing because I identified a need to bring professional sales and expertise into the industrial environment. We specialize in higher tech products, and by utilizing my engineering degree from my undergraduate education, I was able to help bring these high tech products into the industrial space. Over time we have transformed into material handling specialists. We have a suite of products that we offer to improve the safety and efficiency of material handling operations and proximity detection. Up until March, no one considered the need for human-to-human protective technology. We’ve since evolved our traditional product and morphed into a people-to-people detection system in this new world of social distancing.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the most interesting things that has happened to me in my career was discovering the need for my expertise across the pond. I never really set out to do sales and marketing of unique technology from Europe like AME; however, when we started getting into the international market, I discovered a huge need. It can be difficult to bring European products to the US market, but I am always up for a challenge. The expertise and knowledge that I have has directly translated into solutions of the problems my clients face. Expanding AIM’s horizons led to working with innovative partners with unique technologies. With my business located in Indiana, I never expected to be working with people across the world.
Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
In the short-term future, there is no vaccine for COVID-19, so it is emphasized with urgency every day that the best course of action is social distancing. Our product is a reminder, allowing you to maintain social distancing status at all times. The EGOpro Active Tag uses UWB technology to maintain CDC recommended guidelines to send a vibration to alert both tags, and the people wearing them, of a breach in social distancing. Ideal for factories, warehouses and construction sites where it is difficult to measure the minimum distance between employees, it has everyday applications for retail and is even being used in a museum setting. We can contribute to keeping the numbers down. If everyone were to have a product like this, it would ensure that people adhere to social distancing guidelines and therefore keep people safe.
How do you think this might change the world?
In the new era of social distancing, this could be a long-term solution in order to reopen the country and ensure safety.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
This is best of class technology. It uses a UWB frequency band that allows for very fast and very precise positioning as well as secure communication. Even with a full suite of contact-tracing products, the data that is being transmitted is private and extremely secure. The frequency that we are transmitting it on is hard to crack and is not like WiFi or Bluetooth. Our people-counting device, LASE PeCo, counts the number of people simply by calculating the height of people, but there are no other identifying factors. The device can distinguish between an adult, child and a shopping cart by inputting the suggested height of an adult and a suggested height of a child. It is not a security camera or system, but a people counter.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
We were already in the business of proximity detection, protecting people from machinery in the workplace. Heavy machinery is often one of the leading causes of injury/death in a work setting. Now, there is a new danger. The virus has changed the way we operate in our daily lives. We were already experts in proximity detection and with social distancing in full swing, a safe distance between individuals is key to preventing the spread of the virus. This unexpected circumstance led us to reconfigure the system to do people-to-people detection as well. We are using the same core technology, and by innovating with the current times, have been able to come up with a solution to this new problem.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
What we need is the acceptance of the market to invest in this technology. The virus is not going away, and social distancing is part of our future. Relying on people to always maintain social distancing is not going to suffice. The acceptable, reliable measures are low-cost solutions. Our technology can protect people from transmitting the virus and therefore keep numbers down. We need acceptance and willingness to adhere to social distancing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I started this business, I had a partner along the way who really had bigger ambitions. At the time, he was talking about using our expertise to find partners in Europe and across the world and bring their technology to the USA even though I didn’t think we were ready for it. He was always confident this was the direction we should take the company. He was the motivator behind the turning point for the company. He is no longer with the organization anymore but we are still good friends and I talk frequently about the journey and how his guidance has transformed the company and helped me to see the bigger picture.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Our technology is being deployed in mostly industrial situations. The material handling in these areas are very dangerous. As we know, it is one of the leading causes of fatalities in most industries. It is always in the top 10 of OSHA violations. Material handling in the industry is a dangerous thing. We are helping companies realize that with the adoption of this technology we can improve the safety and therefore keep employees safe. We have taken our expertise and knowledge from proximity detection and transformed it into social distancing. Following guidelines from the CDC and World Health Organization, we are trying to keep people at a safe distance. We are alerting them that social distancing has been violated. We are taking the key safety message and adapting it into this new COVID world.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. It is ok to say no. Instead of forcing our solutions into applications that aren’t a fit, we have tried to “make” things work just to satisfy a customer. These never turn out well and often lead to unhappy customers. As hard as it is, it’s much easier to tell a customer no, we can’t offer a solution to you at this time.
2. Leadership styles matter. Different people in your organization need different things. How you lead them is key to your company’s success. One needs to recognize the individual’s needs and adjust accordingly.
3. Hire experts to help build your company. I am not an expert at everything. It’s perfectly fine to hire people to do work for you. In the long run, it ends up saving time, money and your company can grow from the input that these experts can provide.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Most things that I worry about never happen. Don’t waste time and energy on them!
5. Learn to delegate. I have hired people in my organization who are talented. I need to rely on their talents more and give them key positions in projects across the company.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Lewis and Clark were lost most of the time; If your idea of exploration is to always know where you are going, and staying inside your zone of competence, you don’t do wild new shit. You have to be confused, upset, think you’re stupid. If you’re not willing to do that, you can’t go outside of the box” Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Our social distancing technology was developed by engineers who have been doing proximity detection for the last 20 years. Keeping people safely away from objects is nothing new to us. Using that expertise we have developed a technology that is incredibly reliable, extremely fast and precise. Most importantly, it is secure from a data perspective. This technology is unmatched across the world as far as what we can offer in our light and our contact tracing which can lead to people counting, managing people in areas and alerting authorities to violations. I think the key thing to remember is that our technology can apply to several aspects. We can use that same technology to do people-to-machine, man-to-machine and now people-to-people. We are one of the only companies in the world that has the technology to adapt for an advanced feature down the road.
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