August 30, 2021

Rob Qualls & SAAM Inc: Predicting home fires, saving lives

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The smallest of domestic fires can endanger everyone around it, and cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. North America itself contributes to the most number of home fires in the entire world. In 2019, local fire departments responded to an estimated 1.3 million fires. These fires caused roughly 3,700 civilian fire deaths and 16,600 reported civilian fire injuries with property damage estimated at roughly $14.8 billion. 

On average, a fire department responded to a fire somewhere in the US every twenty-four seconds in 2019. A home structure fire was reported every ninety-three seconds, a home fire death occurred every three hours and ten minutes, and a home fire injury occurred every forty-three minutes according to the National Fire Protection Association.

A leaky gas line, faulty home heating systems, and overuse of kitchen appliances are just a few of many causes that can ignite a fire inside a house. While protection devices like fire extinguishers and smoke alarms have always been handy and have contributed to saving lives, they have only been effective once a fire has started and is well underway. Unfortunately, by then it is too late to save property and material possessions, and in the worst-case scenarios, life. 

But what if we could detect a fire before it even started? What if we had the ability to peer into the future and save ourselves and our valued possessions from the wrath of the smoldering flames of the house fire? 

With the goal of potentially saving thousands of lives every year and improving health by continuously monitoring for trace elements of chemicals and particulates in the air, are SAAM Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana. Established and led by Rob Qualls, Founder & CEO, more than 20 years ago and with additional offices in Cincinnati and Melbourne, Australia, this organization is on a mission to become the World’s leading provider of consumer smart health and safety technology.

The SAAM solution

SAAM Inc. is a smart home company focused on the development of health and safety products through its innovative technology. It is a scientific instrument company that develops smoke, fire, gas, and air quality detection devices, including the revolutionary SAAM S-Series.

The award winning SAAM S-Series, their proprietary 4-in-1 smoke, fire, gas, and air quality monitoring device, is a safety device of tomorrow that can detect trace elements of toxic chemicals, indicative of smoke, fire, and gas leaks in the home, before a potentially catastrophic event. It has been successfully tested by an independent lab and several tier one organizations and has yielded positive results through and through. The SAAM S-Series is scheduled to launch in the consumer market in just a few months from now. Soon as the S-Series launches, it will change the way home fires were considered as a constant fear in any homeowner’s mind.

“The SAAM S-Series will alert in seconds and prior to a potential catastrophic event by detecting chemical changes in the air before smoke or fire, allowing more time to take action.”

“30-years ago,” states Rob, if there was a home fire, “you had an average of 17-minutes to escape once a smoke alarm sounded an alert, today you have an average of 3-minutes to escape at the sound of an alarm.” High-rise buildings, narrow corridors, and non-maintained stairwells add to the chaos and confusion of domestic fires outbreaks. In the US, although all houses have smoke alarms, a whopping 96% of homes have old-school technology-based, ionization smoke alarms. These alarms can take all the way up to 30 minutes to detect and alert even the most prevalent types of home fires. 

To this very effect, the SAAM S-Series has been designed to continuously monitor the air quality for traces of toxic chemicals, emitted by smoldering fires, in just seconds. It then raises the alarm, faster than any other smoke detection device, informing the inhabitants of the looming danger.

The life of an innovator

From as far back as he can remember, Rob always had a fascination with new technology. He wondered how he could create and use new technologies to help save lives. He began his career in the automotive and commercial battery industry, an industry that has very little focus on technology development. It was here, in 1998 that Rob decided to apply his technological prowess and had an idea that would transform the entire trucking industry. “If I could measure the soot levels in oil in real-time for example, we could potentially increase mileage in oil changes 2-3 times, therefore saving time and expenses,” thought Rob. 

By being able to monitor onboard fluids in vehicles in real-time, as opposed to technology that was derived from traditional algorithms like time, miles driven, etc., Rob was able to add significant profit to a commercial fleet’s bottom line, thereby enabling the trucking industry to increase their performance and overall profit margins.

Rob started Sentelligence in 2001 with a scientist partner. This scientist, Rob says, “had thorough knowledge in spectral science and instrumentation to focus on the development of onboard smart diesel engine technology to monitor the quality of fluids and gases to determine maintenance intervals, saving costs and extending the life of vehicle fluids.” 

For the next 15 years, Rob and his partner worked together adding value by generating profits for the automotive industry. In 2016 when his partner retired, Rob decided to pivot his company and use its technology to contribute towards consumer safety. He wanted to create a portable device capable of measuring potential contaminants in food, beverages, and detect counterfeit pharmaceuticals. 

At Sentelligence, the technology was used to measure the quality of natural gas used in engines. After rigorous testing and research, Sentelligence determined that after a few modifications and upgrades, the device could be used to monitor smoke, fires, and gases, in natural indoor air. 

“We did some market research and realized existing smoke alarm technology was antiquated and had challenges meeting the new Underwriters Laboratory standards for smoke alarms, but knew we could meet the new standards by virtue of our technology detecting specific chemicals, thereby dramatically reducing false alarms.”

Rob and his new team then refocused all their technological innovations on developing the next generation of smoke detectors and air quality monitors, and in 2019, Sentelligence became SAAM Inc. which stands for Spectral Analytical Air Monitoring”.     

A future-ready safety device

The SAAM S-Series is an innovation for the times to come. Its effectiveness to identify hazardous chemicals in the air comes from its proprietary spectral technology, which scans multiple bands to sense and detect non-natural and toxic elements in the air. “Spectral technology has been used for decades, especially in the medical field, and other applications but has historically been too expensive and too large for consumer applications, until now,” explains Rob. For the SAAM S-Series, Rob and his team of researchers and developers managed to successfully lower the cost of spectral technology by reducing its overall deployment size. 

The S-Series devices will be offered in two variants, one that can be hardwired to the ceiling and one that is portable. The portable tabletop alarm system is used to enhance existing smoke alarms installed in homes or be carried along anywhere and everywhere. The portable tabletop device was inspired from personal stories of parents who lost children in fires while traveling abroad or away at college.

“The S-Series of devices are pre-emptive and alert in seconds, minimize nuisance alarms, are affordable, robust, and with advanced technology using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) for monitoring and maintaining historical data.”

Using an S-Series device is rather easy as well. All one has to do is download the SAAM app on their smartphone, connect to the SAAM device, and voila! Hereafter, users not only receive LED, voice, smart app alerts and warnings on their smartphones but also receive regular tips and actions to take against allergens, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and more, ensuring that the home air quality is nothing less than top-notch.

Apart from having universal compatibility, faster detection capability, and smart and comprehensive analytics, the SAAM uses next-generation technology combined with high-end artificial intelligence to provide real-time indoor air quality information. With the success of SAAM, Rob looks forward to continuing to introduce more proprietary technology that will dramatically reduce or eliminate deaths and injuries in fires as a result of inadequate and or ineffective antiquated technology.

Staying ahead of the curve

Rob has been a technological innovator all his life. Due to his ground-breaking contribution to the world of consumer and home safety, he and SAAM Inc., have received many awards and global recognition. They have won an incredible, seven awards just this year, including the CES 2021 “Innovation Honouree Award in the “Smart Home category,” “The Powderkeg -Tech Culture Award,” four Gold and Silver “Globee Awards,” and “The New World Report award” for “Technology and Software.”

As a principal innovator and CEO of a constantly evolving research and development company, Rob likes to maintain a close-knit, open and honest work environment. There is always room for improvement in his eyes and he has carefully built a great engineering and business team that is fiercely involved in developing new technologies while understanding and overcoming potential threats. As a leader, Rob always supports his team by listening to their ideas, no matter what they are. He also possesses the humility to agree when he is wrong about something. 

“At the moment we are focused on two areas of initiatives, partnering with a global tier one to expedite market commercialization, and product technology improvements.”

As a person, Rob is passionate about sports. He always followed sports and is proud of the fact that for several years, he trained and competed as an amateur boxer. He is also a huge music lover, especially classic rock, but tends to switch genres depending on his mood.

Building up his business, Rob did have to compromise on a few things, family being the biggest one. That however came to fruition when he met his now-wife, who Rob says “had two beautiful daughters who I like to refer to as my “Bonus Daughters,” because they are such a bonus in my life. I could not love them any more than as if they were my birth daughters. My bonus daughters gave me two wonderful bonus son-in-law’s, and three of the most amazing Grandchildren one could hope for in life.”

As far as SAAM Inc., is concerned, Rob continues to strengthen his team, encouraging team members to participate in the success of the company by bringing forth their ideas and outlooks. Looking forward Rob says that he is focused on aligning SAAM Inc., with a global tier-one consumer safety company. Eagerly planning the near-future launch of the S-Series, he says, “We are very fortunate to have several tier-one discussions going on at this time, so we believe a relationship is imminent. This will help SAAM expedite our product technology commercially,” and internationally. 

Rob hopes that he leaves behind a legacy of an honest, ethical, and moral business executive who delivers on commitments regardless of the consequences but for now he remains focused on his purpose, to create effective and intelligent technologies that predict and prevent future household catastrophes due to smoldering fires.


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