What about an in-cab camera system monitoring the inside and outside of the vehicle, delivering data in real-time to your smart phone to increase driver’s and pedestrian’s safety, sending maintenance reminders and preventing thefts?
Every business starts with an idea. The example above isn’t rocket science in today’s digitalized and connected high-tech world. Nevertheless, the implementation of imaging and vision solutions can be a tough road to embark on. Expert guidance is always helpful to find the right path from technology to development, and from implementation to production. Sarah Wu of FRAMOS is such an expert who is devoting most of her time every day to helping customers devise solutions from a single image sensor all the way to entire embedded vision systems.
An image sensor the size of a push-pin head rests on Sarah’s fingertip. She keeps a few devices for demonstration purposes on her desk. Sarah works as Business Development Manager for global imaging leader FRAMOS in Ottawa, Canada. Her job is to unveil the potential of cutting-edge vision technology by searching, evaluating, developing, and closing vision opportunities for customers. “As a sales professional, what you sell does matter”, states Sarah while carefully grabbing another sugar-cubed-sized camera module. “Vision applications make the world a better place and improve the quality of life. For example, people are less likely to be injured with the help of intelligent support systems, cutting-edge UAVs, or service vehicles with embedded vision systems that greatly improve safety. More advanced medical treatments have also been made possible with the latest vision-supported diagnostic and surgical systems. Robotic systems are making our home a smarter and more relaxing place to be…there are endless industries and verticals that can benefit from having a smart and innovative vision component.”
Customers approaching vision solutions look for new business; they want changes and to create innovation – and every customer has a different problem to solve. “The same sensors, and the same cameras can do so many things, for so many different applications”, states Sarah. To enable customers’ devices and machine to see, she works with her engineering team to bring vision technology advancements to life, constantly researching new products, exploring options and collaborating with potential customers and partners. Often customers struggle with too few or too many options, limited resources and compressed timeline for development. Sarah supports both established customers in the vision industry and aspiring start-ups in finding the right components, systems, or semi-customized solutions. At different stages of the project, she is the one-face-to-the-customer – the expert, the advisor, and the technical and commercial support, all-in-one.
The computer bleeps, and Sarah checks the incoming email with concentrated expectation. “During the discovery stage, it is about what you can do, how we should do it and, which components to use”, Sarah says, describing the first phases of every project. “When the project is a go, we dive further into the details, bringing in our engineering team and technical support. After the R&D phase is completed, it is Support's role to implement in a most timely and cost-efficient manner”, she adds. “Even when we are faced with challenges and sometimes disagreements along the way, working through them together always helps us build trust and a stronger relationship.”
Being there with customers from the very first idea, through evaluation and decision-making process, till implementation, prototyping and production means a fully packed schedule every day. Multitasking, effective time management and high standards describe Sarah’s way of working. “When the project is on, it’s on and things happen.” Sarah is always trying to find new opportunities, provide proactive and timely feedback, solve problems, manage demands, and nurture prospects. “Customers want answers,” she smiles insightfully. “One or two days a week I take a step back and prioritize all the ongoing projects to make sure everything is under control and well taken care of”. Sarah appreciates flexible hours that FRAMOS offers, like working from home. “Modern technology allows us to work anywhere anytime, and I value getting things done both at work and at home. Providing prospects and partners with all needed information and advice to advance the project is my part to shorten development cycles and a fast time-to-market.”
Customers benefits from the extensive experience Sarah brings and her business acumen to identify the true wishes and goals of clients and their project needs. “What customers want is not always what they really need or can afford”, she summarizes. In-depth product knowledge is her key to closing this gap. “I joined FRAMOS with a passion for high-tech, but as I came from the satellite communication industry, I had no idea what an image sensor was at that time.” She has invested, and still invests a significant amount of her own time learning about vision products and technologies. “From embedded vision to my favourite Sony sensor roadmaps, I self-study and discuss with our engineers on a daily basis to expand and refresh my knowledge base in order to provide better value for our customers.”
Picture 1: Raven, the worlds first complete connected car system by Klashwerks, available on Amazon and Shopify.
A great example of FRAMOS’ values and Sarah's holistic solution selling approach is the successful collaboration with Klashwerks, better known for its Raven, a fully connected car system that puts two cameras, LTE cellular technology, and your car’s On-Board Diagnostics port all in one small box to monitor what’s happening on the road outside as well as inside your car via your smart phone or a desktop PC. “Our first meeting with the Klashwerks team was in a coffee shop when they were a new start-up and did not yet have their own office space”. They exchanged hundreds of emails and phone calls, and Sarah and her team of dedicated vision experts helped the customer select the best imaging components for the system. 18 months later, Klashwerks successfully launched their Raven product at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, winning CES Innovation, Gearbrain, Best Car DashCam and PC Mag, Best Car Accessory awards all at once. They soon moved to a posh downtown office with 20+ employees, and are selling Raven on Amazon, Shopify and through other B2B and consumer distribution channels.
“Imaging technology is entering new markets, and there is a lot of potential growth in nearly all industrial and consumer vertical markets”, says Sarah confidently. She takes great pride in her customers’ success: “When YOUR project is going into the market, you are so excited that you helped make it happen. That makes my day, because I help my customers to be successful and they know I am their advocate.”