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GENIUS! #15: Ahren Hartman and the Axient wireless microphone system

"There were points in the project when I thought, ‘Well, this is just never going to work. What am I doing? I am crazy!’"

“It’s a wireless microphone system that is intelligent enough to know if it’s being interfered with, and then capable enough to do something about it to resolve the interference,” says Ahren Hartman, senior director of engineering for Axient.

Specifically, Axient combines spectrum analysis, channel allocation and device management into one network-based platform for fail-safe wireless audio. As more and more users fight for fewer available frequencies, Axient has truly earned a place on the Genius list.

Getting Axient to market took “the better part of five years,” says Hartman. “It was, and probably still is Shure’s biggest R&D productisation effort. The team size at the peak was upwards of 70 different engineers, marketing and operations people.”

Hartman, whose education was in wireless engineering, joined Shure in 1989 when the company entered the wireless market with the L-Series. His focus has been on wireless products ever since, including SLX, PGX, UHF-R, Wireless Workbench 6, and the recently introduced PSM300. For the past 10 years, he’s also been working with regulators in Washington, including the FCC and Congress, “getting them to understand who we are, who our markets are and who our users are,” he says.

As far as a career highlight, “Axient was definitely the peak as far as depth of engineering and the impact on the market,” explains Hartman. “We had a great team. Looking back on it, it was a very large company effort. There were definitely times when I know a large part of the team thought I was literally crazy for trying to get us to build a system that didn’t seem like it could be built from an engineering standpoint. There were definitely points in the project when I thought, ‘Well, this is just never going to work. What am I doing? I am crazy!’ [Laughs]. At the end of the day you need a little insanity to keep you going.”