The Silicon Review
It is a well-known fact that conventional smoke detectors have saved countless lives. But smart detectors can do more than what older models have delivered. Your home is the most integral part of your assets, and it is important to take safety precautions to protect it and your family. The smart smoke detector is one investment that will come with many advantages. Compared to traditional models, smart detectors can detect a fire much faster and send you and other parties various alerts and notifications. Smart detectors provide better protection, peace of mind, and practicality—what more could you ask?
Globally there are various companies delivering excellent smart smoke detectors, but SAAM stands out from the rest. The company was started with the idea of providing consumer safety products using SAAM’s existing Intellectual Property from the diesel engine diagnostic portfolio as the impetus for developing new and innovative technology. The first product SAAM developed was the SAAM S-Series, the first new fire and smoke detection technology in 50+ years.
In conversation with Rob Qualls, Co-Founder of SAAM
Q. Can you explain about your services in brief?
The SAAM S-Series is the first of its kind Smoke, Fire, Gas, and Air Quality Monitor using Non-dispersive Infrared Technology (NDIR) to pre-emptively alert occupants of a potentially catastrophic event by measuring sub-micro inch chemical changes in the air.
Q. What are some of the significant challenges you faced in initial years? How did you overcome them?
The Pandemic made life difficult for all businesses, with no warning and little time to prepare; some businesses adapted and flourished, others went under, and some just survived. SAAM happens to have an amazing team of individuals who fought for our small company by reducing or forgiving salaries, carrying expenses, and bootstrapping product development. As a start-up company in the process of raising funds, prospective investors became skittish about investing, not our investors; in many cases, they increased their investment, so we owe a great deal of gratitude to those investors who believed in our team members and who never lost confidence in SAAM.
Q. People are more concerned about outside pollution and overlook the importance of indoor air quality. How does quality of indoor air affect a person’s health?
Good question, the EPA estimates indoor pollutants are 2-5 times worse than outdoor pollutants, so if you are concerned about outdoor pollutants, you should be really concerned about indoor pollution and its effects on your health, especially for individuals with allergies and pulmonary issues.
Q. How do you detect the potential sources of contamination that originate from outdoors as well as indoors?
We use a particulate sensor capable of measuring particles in ug/m3 at 2.5/4/10um, so this would cover most allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust, mold spores, etc. This coupled with our NDIR detection technology and measuring for toxic chemicals in the air, makes for a unique and comprehensive air quality device.
Q. Tell us about adaptability and versatility that your product can offer when compared to conventional air quality detection devices?
The SAAM S-Series is not just an air quality device; it is a smoke, fire, gas and toxic vapor detection device capable of saving lives by pre-emptively alerting occupants of a potentially catastrophic event. One of the many advantages of our technology is we were able to develop a portable device, the SAAM SP4. The SP4 was inspired by the horrific stories we heard from parents of kids lost while traveling abroad or living in off-campus housing at universities that did not have adequate fire protection technology. The SP4 can sit on a bedside table; the unit has an intake fan, so it is constantly pulling air through the device, measuring for dangerous chemicals. The SP4 plugs into the wall and has a backup battery in the event of a power outage. The unit also has artificial intelligence with remote communications capabilities, so anyone with the app can be notified of an event on their smart device.
Q. How do you market your services?
The SAAM S-Series is not yet available commercially; we have partnered with a global tier-one that has a significant presence in the fire technology space and are hoping the S- Series will be available commercially in the very near future.
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?
At SAAM, we are very excited about the future. We believe we have the next-generation technology that will improve health by monitoring contaminants and saving lives by monitoring for dangerous levels of chemicals in the air.
Meet the leaders behind the success of SAAM
Rob Qualls, Founder: Mr. Qualls has 40 years of experience in marketing, Sales, and General Management in the Global OEM/Aftermarket industry as it relates to advanced technology. Rob has held executive positions with Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, such as Vice President of Marketing for HighwayMaster, Director of Marketing for Pacific-Dunlop/GNB, and Marketing Manager for General Battery. Rob has extensive experience living and conducting business on a global basis with a focus on North America and Europe.
Gregory Stewart, Founder: Mr. Stewart has extensive experience in global operations, managing large P&L businesses at Fortune 500 companies. Inclusive of that experience is 12 years of running Asia Pacific companies while residing as an Expat in China and Singapore. Greg was most recently Managing Director Asia with WESCO, Vice President Asia with Rexel, Division President Asia, General Manager China, and Branch Manager Indiana with G.E. Prior to that; he was a graduate of G.E.’s Technical Leadership Program. Additionally, Greg has a strong background managing LCC sourcing organizations while residing in Asia.
Erik Deutsch, Ph.D., Founder: Dr. Deutsch is a senior engineering executive, entrepreneur, and recognized expert in QCL, MEMS, FTIR, and spectroscopy. He brings over 20 years of experience leading the strategic development of diverse new and existing technologies and bringing disruptive handheld and miniature spectroscopy products to market. He possesses the rare combination of innovative technical leadership with strong business acumen with over ten patents in novel spectroscopy technologies and systems. Dr. Deutsch received his S.M. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT with a focus on MEMS and Optics.
Phil McCormack, Founder: Mr. McCormack is a seasoned executive with extensive experience in finance, M&A, and executive management. Phil is currently a Board Director with four companies, including an ASX-listed company. His previous experience includes National Australia Bank, Accenture, and Fujitsu, where he was the International Head of M&A. Phil has been involved in over 100 M&A buy and sell transactions across the globe, including Europe, China, USA, Latin America, and Australia.
Joe Huehnerhoff, Chief Technology Officer: Mr. Huehnerhoff has an extensive background in systems engineering of complex spectroscopic and imaging solutions. Joe brings his experience in product development, specifically optical, mechanical, and electrical integration of systems for hyperspectral reflectance Raman imaging and spectroscopy systems. Previous experience includes working for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the University of Washington with a focus on Optics, Mechanics, Electronics, and Software as it relates to Spectroscopy and complex optomechanical systems. Mr. Huehnerhoff was a Physics Research Fellow at Harvard University.
Sibu Janardhanan, Operations: With over 20 years of experience, Mr. Janardhanan has an extensive background in commercial leadership, finance, operations, strategic planning, and executive management with companies such as GE, Rexel, and ENGIE SA. Sibu was formerly Senior Vice President of EVBox, a global leader in electric vehicle charging stations. Prior to EVBox, Mr. Janardhanan served as Vice President of Energy Solutions with Gexpro managing a $225M P&L.