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Girton Fellow revolutionising retail, healthcare & industrial using Battery-Free Real-Time Location Tracking

Dr Sabesan Sithamparanathan standing in the Stanley Library at Girton College

Girton Enterprise Fellow and multi-award-winning academic and entrepreneur, Dr Sabesan Sithamparanathan FREng FIET, has invented and developed the world’s most accurate passive (battery-free) radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking technology.

The Impact of TrackMaster Technology

The digitisation of retail, healthcare, manufacturing, logistics and supply chain processes means that IoT, smart sensors and other AI driven processes are becoming increasingly prevalent. However, the smallest data inaccuracies can have the most profound operational, safety and security consequences and so existing inventory tracking solutions are typically not fit for purpose because they cannot detect and track tagged items with the required accuracy at speed.

Based on his PhD at Cambridge, Sabesan founded PervasID which has developed the world’s most accurate passive RFID real-time location tracking solution that achieves a 99%+ accuracy rate with up to 20 metre detection range, compared to that of the industry standard 80% accuracy with a 2 metre range. Already adopted by major retailers globally, this technology enhances retail inventory management by accurately tracking goods in retail stores using existing tags, replacing time-consuming, labour-intensive manual handheld scanning. Integrated with third-party stock management applications giving retailers a graphical map interface showing the location and movement of all tagged goods, the solution improves sales, customer satisfaction, and prevents losses by offering real-time visibility, timely restocking, efficient in-store fulfilment, enhanced click-and-collect and online order services. Furthermore, it can improve full-price sales and decrease end-of-season markdowns.

In industrial sector, Stanley Black & Decker use the tags to track supplies from their tool cabinets used by aircraft manufacturers. Each cabinet contains over 1,000 tools, and it can result in serious safety incidents if any are left inside an aircraft. It is estimated that Foreign Object Debris (FOD) costs the aviation industry $13 billion per year in direct and indirect costs, including flight delays, plane changes and fuel inefficiencies. In healthcare, PervasID solutions are being deployed in NHS hospitals for tracking surgical instruments to enhance decontamination and sterilisation processes and for tracking hospital assets to ensure that mission-critical medical devices are available at the right place and time, for robust and efficient care. The need for this level of traceability of medical devices has been particularly evident in the COVID-19 pandemic. The solution is predicted to save billions of pounds for hospitals globally and, most importantly, will save lives.

Taking his product to market

Sabesan has been able to take this revolutionary technology to market although he has taken a leap of faith to do so.  Once he had completed his PhD, Sabesan had two clear choices: to license his innovation to companies, or to build this into a viable product and attempt to penetrate the market himself. It would have been so easy to pursue the former, but Sabesan did not. He launched his company, PervasID Limited, and started an extraordinary journey that has taken his company global.

Additional financial awards and accolades enabled Sabesan to focus solely on his technology innovation, for example, the Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award in 2011; the UK ICT Pioneer of Connected World Award in 2011; and the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship awarded to only six people in the UK in that year. Sabesan worked closely with the Royal Academy of Engineering for five years to bring his innovation to life. These exclusive awards are testament to all that he has achieved, and allowed Sabesan to be his own boss, build his brand and a prototype, and discover whether his solution would have a sustainable place in the market. Most importantly, Sabesan was able to establish that his innovative technology would indeed make a significant difference to society.  In 2016, Sabesan took his innovation to market and revolutionised retail, healthcare and industrial using near 100% accurate battery-free real-time location tracking.

Sabesan Sithamparanathan with TrackMaster technology. Taken by Keith Heppell
Dr Sabesan Sithamparanathan, PervasID founder, with TrackMaster technology. Photograph credit: Keith Heppell

About Sabesan

Throughout his career, Sabesan has become an expert in entrepreneurship, strategic business development and innovation leadership. He is an authentic leader, able to build, motivate and develop teams to maximise performance and has the interpersonal and communication skills to forge positive relationships with internal and external parties.

In 2011, Sabesan was elected to a Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge, and in 2014 was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship. He was elected as the inaugural Girton Enterprise Fellow in 2022. 

Sabesan founded his unique company in 2011 and has grown this to become a truly global enterprise, providing pioneering solutions to healthcare, industrial, retail and supply chain, and logistics sectors with a complete product suite of the world’s most accurate passive RFID readers. 

Demonstrating excellence in innovation technology and leadership; Sabesan has achieved something utterly unique.  His ground-breaking innovative tracing solution has solved a problem that no one else has previously, worldwide. 

Sabesan receiving award
  • 2023 - King's New Year's Honours 2024 - awarded an OBE for Services to Innovation Technology and the Promotion of STEM Subjects in Education.
  • 2023 - Elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
  • 2023 - Named in Business Elite’s “40 Under 40”.
  • 2023 - Elected to a Fellowship of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
  • 2022 - Elected to an Enterprise Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge University.
  • 2021 - The Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal 2021 for an outstanding and demonstrated personal contribution to UK engineering.
  • 2021 - Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of Innovation.
  • 2021 - Top 100 Asian Stars in UK Tech 2021.
  • 2019 - The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2019 – Technology: Cyber Security.
  • 2016 - Royal Academy of Engineering Engineers Trust ‘Young Engineer of the Year’.
  • 2016 - Sir George Macfarlane Medal for excellence in the early stage of a career.
  • 2014 - Awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship (worth £85,000).
  • 2011 – Awarded the UK ICT Pioneer of Connected World Award.
  • 2011 - Elected to a Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge University.
  • 2011 - The Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award (worth £40,000).
  • 2011 - Appointed to a Fellowship of the ERA Foundation.
  • 2007 - Winner of the Sir William Siemens Medal. This is awarded annually by Siemens to the country’s top 18 science and technology students.

Updated 29 December 2023