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Startup Feature: VizworX

VizworX is a participating startup in Batch #2 of The Accelerator, helping organizations get better business value out of their data using interactive visualizations.

An interview with Jeff LaFrenz, President of VizworX

VizworX creates custom solutions and products, including collaborative 3D engineering design review solutions based on augmented reality, and collaborative 2D geospatial visualization solutions based on touch displays and mobile devices.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how VizworX came to be. 

My background and training is as an electrical and computer engineer, but I’m also a serial entrepreneur. I’ve developed solutions in multiple areas including satellite remote sensing, telecommunications and air traffic control. I was helping run a research network out of the University of Calgary that focused on interactive technologies and spun a company out to pursue some of the ideas from that network.

What problem does your company solve? 

Our company is focused on three key areas. Our primary focus is on our newest business area, which was just recently spun out of the U of C. This area focuses on the use of augmented reality and virtual reality to create collaborative engagement with 3D information. Our first customer is a major oil and gas producer, who is using our solution as an enhancement to their engineering design review process. Our solution creates a natural and intuitive environment for stakeholders involved in safety, ergonomics, operations, maintenance and design to review in full scale, identify required changes and ultimately increase the level of confidence in approving new engineering designs.  Preliminary evaluations indicate that our solution will result in reduced review times, improvements in review outcomes and significant cost savings overall. There is enormous potential for the use of augmented reality in the infrastructure and engineering design space. This is the area we are focusing on at The Accelerator.

Underpinning our product development work is our customs solutions capabilities. We work with a variety of clients who want to derive better business value from their data.  Through the application of intuitive, interactive visualization technologies we enable our clients to better understand their data, derive richer insights and make better decisions. One example of this is the work we are currently doing with the National Energy Board (NEB) to create highly interactive web-based visualizations that allow the general public to understand and engage with data that the NEB gathers and manages.

How do you solve that problem?

Most mature organizations involved in engineering design have a thorough and time consuming review and approval process. However, part of the reason why their review processes are so time consuming and prone to minor (and sometimes major) errors, is the difficulty inherent in viewing 3D infrastructure on a 2D display, all driven by a single point of view. Our solution allows for fully immersive group interaction with full scale engineering designs, where each member of the group can look at the design from their own perspective reflective of their own disciplinary needs.  It is the digital equivalent of review a full scale 3D mockup of the actual design. This approach saves a significant amount of time gaining an understanding of the design, exposes issues much faster than the standard approach, and prevents issues that may not have been caught until construction. The rework process can be tremendously expensive and missing safety concerns before construction could not only cause injury to site personnel, but also cause very expensive plant shut downs. 

Tell us about some of your major accomplishments in 2017.

Our most significant accomplishment in 2017 was spinning out augmented reality technology and techniques from our parent research lab and working with a major oil and gas company to turn this into a highly valuable solution.  We also became an IBM Solutions Partner and have also started to implement artificial intelligence applications.

What's next for VizworX?

We see significant opportunity to blend the work we are doing in both AR and AI into world-altering applications.  

How has your experience been at The Accelerator?

Our experience has been really positive so far. The materials and sales training have been very useful, as has connecting with our mentor, James Lochrie. While cash flow positive from our custom solutions work, we are now at a point where an investment in the company is appropriate. Part of the work we are doing while at The Accelerator is adjusting the structure of our company to maximize our investability and we look forward to connecting with potential investors through The Accelerator at the pitch competition.

Support VizworX and other local tech startups at The Accelerator Demo Day: Batch #2

Demo Day will showcase local tech companies in front of accredited investors and celebrate all they have accomplished during the 5-month program at The Accelerator. Early bird tickets on sale for $25.