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The thing about augmented reality is that it’s inaccurate. What good is an app that can overlay the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts on my phone screen if it actually just leads me into the city sewer system? New technology company Precision Augmented Reality Works has an AR system that removes those issues.
“We come at augmented reality form a completely different direction,” said PAR Works chief executive John Serafini. “We use point-cloud models to build models of any arbitrary object, building, or product that you want to augment. The software builds a very precise model of that object in the cloud server and overlays specific information on top of that model and returns it to your device. We can do that within a second or so and we within a few millimeters of accuracy.”
Compare that to the traditional method of augmented reality which relies on a device’s sensors. Most apps use a phone’s GPS, compass, and altimeter to determine its location and where it is looking and then overlays the information on top of the picture. Only the accuracy is only within tens and maybe even hundreds of meters.
Something like Google Goggles, while not strictly augmented reality software, uses an alternative method where users take a picture that is then matched against a finite database of objects. If the software recognizes the image, then it will return information about it.
PAR Works has already deployed their tech onto construction sites where foreman can take a picture of the work in progress, send it to the cloud, and get back a comparison between reality and the original blueprint schematics in less than a second.
The Consumer Electronic Association named PAR Works an International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for its work in the augmented reality field.
Now, PAR Works is sitting back waiting to see what developers can do with its technology. The Virginia Tech scientists that created it, led by co-founder and chief scientist Dr. Jules White, completed the platform and are offering it to interested programmers and designers at PARworks.com.
“We just announced a developer competition for $25,000,” said Serafini. “Our platform is complete and available for developers to build upon. For the next couple of months we’re gonna take a hard look and watch what people are building on top of our base technology. We want to see the traction we’re able to build. That’ll help dictate to us where the business is.”
PAR Works was born out of the Allied Minds investment company which works to apply longer-term principles to the tech sector.
“We only invest in raw technologies coming out of universities and federal research institutions,” said Serafini. “Whoever makes the investment in the initial technology goes on board as the CEO and general manager of the company.”
That’s how Serafini got the gig at PAR Works. He believed in the tech enough to invest in it and so he now has to work to take responsibility for it. Another benefit is Allied Minds will continue to fund the company as long as it continues pursuing its business model. That means that the technology people don’t have to go looking for capital investments.
Typically, venture capitalists deal in strict timelines. For technology, investors are looking to put in some money, push along the company, and harvest that investment within two to six years.
“Some of the technologies we see coming out as raw intellectual properties from universities and national labs are so disruptive and transformative they require five to seven to ten years of development time to maximize value. Because they are answering hard problems from five to ten years out.”
Allied Minds has the ability to reach back to principal investors, the most notable of which is Investco, to write big checks when they’re required. This combined with their investor-to-CEO management model gives them the slack to see these investments through to fruition.