Frans Kanters: “Freedom and space are essential for creativity and innovation”

When we meet Frans Kanters, he seems calmness personified. He talks in a thoughtful and measured manner. However, during this interview his eyes often flash with a thinly veiled passion. It doesn’t really matter, whether we are talking about his family or that  other big love in his life: technology. Frans is only 41 years old, but he already has many achievements to his name, when it comes to innovative technology. And now he has taken on a new challenge. As Pager Services’ new technical director he can live his technological dreams.

Frans is a versatile man. That’s what we find out, when we ask him about his career so far. Even when he was still studying, he combined several disciplines and he kept doing that after he had graduated. “I have set up and led very diverse projects. That started
while I was still attending university. For my graduation project I applied my primary subject, electrical engineering, to biomedical technology. I liked the combination so much, that I ended up conducting my doctoral research at the same faculty. That resulted in a revolutionary way of technical image processing, which is still used in intelligent cameras that are used for sports registration. I also developed a technique for detecting cracks in natural stone before they even show on the surface, which is, of course, very useful in construction. I worked as a consultant on very varied projects.” He talks about this as if it’s the most natural thing in the world to not only think up projects as intricate as this, but also make them.

Theory and practice: Frans doesn’t only invent it, he also makes it

Frans in short

Name:

Frans Kanters, Ph.D., M.Sc., MBI

Age:

41 years old

Family situation:

Married, 1 daughter who is 8 years old

Job title:

Technical director

Education

Eindhoven University of Technology, M.Sc. electrical engineering

Eindhoven University of Technology, Ph.D. biomedical engineering

Can we conclude from all this that you like building bridges, so to speak?
“Yes, I think so. I’m extremely interested in connecting apparently unrelated areas of expertise. That is what makes working at Pager Services such a challenge. The pager that we are developing at the moment, that’s not just a beeper, it’s a life-saving tool.

Building bridges between different disciplines

How did you end up at Pager Services?
“I have known André for a very long time. In the past I’ve developed something for him. When we got in touch a while back and André turned out to be looking for someone like me, it was a no-brainer really. Through time I have discovered that some circumstances are essential, if you want to develop innovative technology. Real innovation is created by space and freedom.

New generation pagers: combining technologies to save lives

Can you tell us a bit more about that?
“Absolutely. Some 6 years back, I started a new company at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. As you might know, the history of this campus is linked to the NatLab. At one point it was meant to be a breeding ground for new technology. Things we now consider normal household goods, were once thought up over there. I have learned during that time that space and freedom are essential to enable true creativity and innovation. The best ideas come out when people, like myself and the people I had gathered around me, can really think outside the box. However, for several reasons that company suited me less and less and I started looking for a new challenge. That’s when André and I got back in touch. Knowing what I know now, I was immediately interested in what he had to offer. André is one of these exceptional people, who gives creatives exactly what they need to be able to blossom.”

So you can do revolutionary work here, at Pager Services?
“You certainly could say that. With my knowledge of collecting data, algorithms and movement registration we are developing a new generation of pagers. Devices which will not only communicate faultlessly and reliably when it matters most, but will also save precious time.”

How?
“We can register so much, that we can link certain events to automated initiatives. If the analysis of data supplied by the pager causes worry, it will result in direct action. That will win us precious time, which will definitely save lives.“

What sort of situations are we talking about?
“Think about, for instance, a prison guard who is overpowered. By means of the movement patterns, which will be automatically registered by the pager, quick action will be enabled. Faster than any man can ever act on his own. Or think of a someone who is frail, but still living at home, becoming unwell. The pager can send on vital information on the spot and that will enable the central unit to determine right away which emergency services are necessary.”

And you do all of that yourselves?
“Yes and no. We developed a framework in a way that – depending on the sector – data can be fed into. That way a device is created which is made to measure for its particular job. We will be doing that in cooperation with our dealers. They are the ones who know which customization is needed. We then implement those together, using all the input from the end-user that we can get.”

What is your big dream?
“I’m a very happy man in my private life. I have a loving wife, who complements me. She’s a psychologist and has taught me a lot about dealing with and managing people. And I enjoy time with my daughter. I would like to show her Hawaii someday. My business dream is not really a dream anymore. It was being able to have the space and freedom to develop myself creatively in technology. Here at Pager Services I have all that. I can get incredibly excited when I see people with a passion. That’s why I really enjoy myself, when I see the people here at Pager Services at work.”

a dream come true