The coronavirus pandemic has been brutal to companies in pretty much every sector, and Canada’s economy has been hit harder than most during the pandemic.
But with great crisis comes great opportunity, and a revolution in the way we conduct business presents great opportunities for those companies capable of seizing it.
The Augmented Reality space is one such sphere that looks likely to get a significant shot in the arm thanks to the pandemic, as consumers and businesses move away from large-scale gatherings and begin offer more tech-based experiences.
If a customer can see what a dress will look on them without having to visit a store, the need for the visit and the subsequent risk of infection is removed.
If a company can conduct a seminar, conference or event with 1500 attendees, but none of those attendees need leave the house, the goal of the conference can be achieved without the need to expose those individuals.
The Augmented Reality industry is tipped to $120 billion by the end of next year, and Canada is at the front of the pack when it comes to developing and monetizing the technology.
One of the companies leading this charge is NexTech AR Solutions, a Toronto company that has developed the Inferno AR system.
Inferno is the companies video conferencing and e-learning tool, that it believes has the capacity to propel it into pole position in the AR race.
I’m joined now by the CEO of NexTech Evan Gappelberg.
Evan, thanks so much for being here today. What role do you see Augmented Reality playing in the post corona era? The pandemic has increased AR demand and use cases to include remote assistance and training because employees and customers are less willing to be in close contact. Post Corona AR is expected to continue to proliferate as the value and ROI of AR has now become clear to companies be it, AR for ecommerce, AR for remote training or learning or AR for personal holograms. AR is here to stay!
Your Inferno AR system, is it similar to any other products that investors may already know? InfernoAR is was built for enterprise customers and so we are marketing it to trade shows, and higher learning institutions however it’s also perfect for corporate training where JNJ and Viacom have been using it for years. We are planning on launching a Zoom look alike product with augmented reality features in Q3-Q4 2020 so stay tuned!
How long did it take to develop the Inferno AR software, and what sort of effort was required from yourself and your people to get it to where it is today?
Inferno the video training platform was developed over 10 years and was built for scale where you can have a million people online concurrently in a highly secure environment. So while the video component has been around for a decade Nextech intergraded it’s AR technology into the Inferno platform in around 90 days, creating InfernoAR, the only video conferencing platform with augmented reality.
What sort of uses does Inferno AR offer for potential clients?
Virtual Conferences – Host your conferences, corporate and networking events, with world-class production and robust interactive features.
Virtual Trade Shows – Set-up your best event ever with virtual booths, registration, keynotes and product demos just like you would in real life.
Virtual Product Tours -Product demos just got better with Augmented Reality. Enable each attendee to interact with your product in a memorable way.
Virtual Education -Elevate your audience’s knowledge and skills, with virtual labs, courses, quizzes, rewards and one-of-a-kind AR features
Webcasts and Webinars -Reach thousands with scalable state-of-the-art video streaming, in a public or private ecosystem.
Panels from Home – recorded Meetings and panels can be streamed and replayed on demand.
What separates Inferno AR from your competitors?
It’s the most versatile platform on the market built in HTML5 which allows for seamless content creation. The biggest competitive edge however is the integrations of augmented reality into the platform.
What steps have you taken to bring Inferno AR to market and secure market share in this growing sector?
We have setup a very robust sales and marketing team which is growing very rapidly to meet customer demand. Currently we have 10 sales reps and a team of 20 on the delivery side which include three project managers as well as a bunch of software engineers and marketing guru’s. it’s all about the team and growing the team to meet demand.
I note yesterday you announced a deal with Ryerson to provide their Fall and Winter semester Biology, Physics and Chemistry classes through the Inferno platform. Can you expand on this deal and what it means for shareholders? .
This is a quote from Ryerson which speaks volumes:
Dr. David Cramb, Dean of the Faculty of Science comments, “At Ryerson we took the bold step of re-imagining a virtual lab. With inputs from staff, students and faculty we designed and developed a completely collaborative environment that ensures an immersive and fun learning experience for our students. The incorporation of augmented reality into the STEM learning environment will change pedagogy forever.”
Do you expect to see more of these sorts of education-sector deals in the future, and is that a market you had in mind when you began developing the technology?
We do expect to see allot more EdTech deals. We had no idea that a pandemic would stimulate our business when we started. The pandemic has accelerated our business and now we are firing on all cylinders. We have grown very fast and continue to grow our headcount…currently we have over 65 employees from just 25 at the beginning of the year … this is only the beginning of what we see as a ramping up of global demand triggered by COVID19 —an acceleration of the digital transformation happening around us and the ushering in of a paradigm shift …WFH/SFH ….which isn’t going away in fact it’s accelerating because of the ROI- it’s simply a better business model to have a hybrid life work balance where going to the office and sitting at a desk is no longer a job requirement…this paradigm shift is going to drive the insatiable demand for everything remote or virtual. For Nextech, we are in the right place at the right time with the right technology stack.