From time to time we will post articles about current projects at Augmate. Right now, we working on a few stealth projects so these articles may seem high level. As our projects become marketplace products, we will post announcements and distribute press releases on this blogmate tab.
Augmate is headquartered in New York and for good reason. There is a plethora of business incubators, accelerators, shared workspaces, and there are early stage: seed, angel, and venture capital investors. Silicon Alley is in high gear and producing some of the best tech start-up companies like: foursquare, tumblr, turntable.fm, kickstarter, TechCrunch, Art.sy, KickApps, Etsy, Yipit, Birchbox, OkCupid, MakerBot, ZocDoc, AppNexus, GroupMe, the list goes on…
There is a great tech education system in New York and Cornell plans to build a 2.1-million-square-foot science campus here. Columbia’s User Interface Lab has produced incredible research in the area of digital eyewear. NYIT (Institute of Technology) does the beta testing for the Kopin / Motorola Golden-I system. There is Hunter College, SUNY, City College, NYU, and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. On top of this, the University of Rochester has the best research optics lab in the world.
There are Tech Meetups, hacker events, and ARNY (Augmented Reality New York). The ARNY founders also organize ARE (Augmented Reality Event), the first global conference dedicated to advancing the business of augmented reality. And when I look around the state, I see Vuzix (digital eyewear veteran) in Rochester, Kitware (computer vision pioneer) in Clifton Park, and eMagin (#1 maker of AR Glasses LED’s) in Hopewell Junction.
We already know that, geographically speaking, New York is the advertising and finance capital of the world, could it soon be the same for technology? It is no wonder why Augmate has setup shop in New York, making it our home.
It seems that the jobs report dominates the national agenda lately from the presidential address to the campaign trail. The unemployment rate declined to 8.3 percent this past week yet it still seems gloomy for many Americans (12.8M people are out of work). While some people explore entrepreneurship, it is not for everyone.
There are many variables to this issue. There is a crumbling infrastructure that is in need of repair but no tax revenue to pay for it and the economy has to pick-up before companies start to hire en mass again. Many jobs have gone over seas and innovation requires the workforce to consider retraining in new fields.
What if there was a good way to do on the job training for the non-experienced. Consider the Augmate solution, “just in time instruction in a users field of view related to the task at hand.”
I am not saying the Augmate solution can instruct a passenger how to land a plane or teach a good samaritan how to perform an emergency tracheotomy, however, it could show someone how to properly mix cement or operate simple road repair equipment. I speculate that there are 100s of job processes and instructions that could be loaded into the Augmate system.
Augmate has joined the Startup America Partnership, it is a good organization with a worthy cause to get Americans working again. New & small businesses create 80% of the jobs in America. http://www.s.co/
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
As part of our process of testing the VERSE API across various digital eyewear products, Augmate will create an optics lab as an official internal department that will do much more than software compatibility tests. We see the need for a Consumer Reports style facility that will test a standard set of evaluation criteria across digital eyewear manufacturers. The purpose of this department is to independently benchmark digital eyewear specifications as feedback to manufacturers and to provide Augmate customers with empirical data reports to make sound purchasing decisions.
Report output will take the form of a narrative white-paper and eyewear comparison table. Our engineers will put the AR glasses through the performance paces of hardware, software, and user based activities. The Augmate Standard will score digital eyewear attributes using a five “A” ranking system with AAAAA being the maximum score. Some attributes include: battery life, transmission rate (Bluetooth, WiFi, and wire), FOV (field of view), luminance (indoor, outdoor), weight, form factor, style, comfort, resolution, and eye / brain fatigue.
We will test “see through” eyewear like Vuzix and Lumus as well as “glance down” eyewear like Kopin and Recon Instruments. The verdict is not out as to which kind of eyewear is better, especially across industries – there are pros and cons to each and some may find that it is a matter of personal preference.
VERSE stands for Vision Enhancement Resource Software Environment. It is Augmate’s framework (software) for augmented reality glasses that is designed to be device independent and platform agnostic. There are three parts to VERSE: The 1) API, 2) UI, and 3) Tools.
The Verse API is a set of functions to make it easy to create apps and tools. VERSE also allows developers to create different user interfaces based on their requirements. Finally, VERSE allows developers to create and define different tools for facial recognition, voice recognition, object recognition, and gesture recognition.
There a few basic pre-requirements for VERSE
- Unix Development Tools or Xcode on Mac
- CMake 2.8.6 or greater
- Visual Studio C/C++ or MinGW
- OpenCV 2.3 or greater
- OpenGL Libraries and SDK
- SDL Library
- LibXML2 Library
VERSE is currently on an SVN server and will be available on GitHub and SourceForge for the v1.0 release. We welcome programmers to join our extended network and develop applications for this exciting new technology.
Augmate predicts that this years’ Consumer Electronic Show (Jan 10-13) in Las Vegas wont disappoint any fans of digital eyewear. Already, Vuzix pre-announced their plans for SMART Glasses Technology: HD display engines connected to the Internet that are visible in bright outdoor conditions. Vuzix’s press release highlights their recent licensing relationship with Nokia Corporation.
Just like the Kopin-Motorola partnership, big mobile players see the value of these displays. Last summer, Google hired Richard DeVaul who wrote his MIT thesis titled “The Memory Glasses”, and Microsoft forecasts that eyewear will automatically translate conversations in their latest concept video. Does anyone else see the writing on the wall?
Significant improvements in optics along with the exponential growth of smart phones has made AR glasses a reality. As the price point gets within the reach of average people, we will see wide adoption of this technology. Recon Instruments (Android OS) currently sells their display in ski goggles and other consumer level products are around the corner.
We suggest Augmate fans stop by the following booths at CES:
3433 Motorola (Also at 8644 & C201)
31-231 MicroVision (Venetian Palazzo Suite)
31431 NVIDIA (Also at CP24)
Of course the Microsoft & Sony booths will be fun and I am sure there is room for some surprises… Apple?
In this post, I will lay out some of our high level plans for the first half of 2012.
We spent the last few months writing our business plan, getting our team in place, building our API, and developing our web presence. Now we think the time is right to join a business accelerator in order to prepare us for launch and get us in front of investors. While we also have a stealth mode project in the works, we wont reveal any details about it until we go live this summer.
We applied for and was accepted into the Founder Institute (NYC branch) business accelerator. The Founder Institute has a goal to globalize Silicon Valley and is the largest accelerator of its kind with nearly 500 start-ups that have gone through the program. Applicants must pass a predictor test for high potential entrepreneurial success. The first part of the test reminded me of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI Personality Test) where the program is likely looking for ENTJ (Extraversion – Intuition – Thinking – Judgment) or Field Marshal types. The second part of the test was to see how well we could think fast on our feet – 70% of all applicants are excluded from the Founder Institute based on the results of these two tests.
Business accelerators like the Founder Institute are a good place for investors to check out new companies since they have already been vetted and screened. The program curriculum is intense and four months long that was crowd-sourced by 17,000 CEO’s. There are 700 company mentors and a peer bonus pool of 3.5% stock warrants shared among program participants that all contribute to helping entrepreneurs succeed.
Our curriculum of company-building classes starts in six weeks (mid February) and contains three investor sessions. Graduates are also featured on an exclusive “Founder Angels” mailing list, and are invited to participate in large-scale Founder Institute pitch events – such as the quarterly Founder Showcase in Silicon Valley.
All in all, I expect 2012 to be a good year for Augmate.