September 17, 2010

Tracking Blue Jeans

Jim Wight is a leader in his field as an academic, and an innovative leader in the community through his creation of several companies. He currently acts as chief scientist at Kaben Wireless Silicon, which develops semiconductor chips for mobile applications and communications infrastructure.

Wight’s academic focus is on wireless and satellite communications, radar surveillance and tracking, and GPS and radio navigation. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, a master’s in wireless communications with a hardware focus and a PhD in radar systems.

One of his current collaborations with the private sector is a project which he and one of his graduate students have been working on over the last two years. It is a collaboration with a small company in Ottawa and focuses on geo-location of Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RF-ID tags).

The problem with (anti-theft RF) tags is that they do not help find an item.

“Let’s say a retail store has 10,000 jeans,” says Wight. “Each one will have an RF tag. This tag is a small, very cheap radio set that most stores have placed on their items. They are used against theft and for inventory control.”

The problem with such tags is that they do not help find an item. The goal of Wight’s team is to create a prototype that would help locate each tag in a store. Their collaborating company will then take this prototype to a productization stage.

“Communication is an exchange of information,” says Wight. “In our case, you’ll have a pair of blue jeans telling you where it is!”
Apart from this project, Wight’s other current initiatives include studies on new architectures for radio frequency semi-conductor chip designs, and projects on radars and signal processing.

So what does he do in his spare time?

“I love my work, so I would say that my job is my hobby.

“But when I go on vacation—you’ll have a hard time finding me. I turn off my phone and really do disappear!”

Electronics professor Jim Wight at the “Research Works Comes to Life” Luncheon

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