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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Paul Kellenberger, CEO of zSpace (Part 2)

Posted on Sunday, Oct 20th 2019

Sramana Mitra: Let’s elaborate on the platform and your own applications versus third-party applications. What’s in the platform? What part of that platform is yours versus from Unity? Where are the third-party developers adding value to this?

Paul Kellenberger: Let me start at the bottom and I’ll talk about the technology from a hardware perspective. We have two proprietary components that are unique to zSpace. One is the way we do the display module that creates the stereo 3D  effect.

The second is in the way in which we do the tracking that allows the interaction with these virtual objects. There is a hardware component to that. However, there is a firmware AI algorithm that goes along with that.

The third piece is really our own software development kit (SDK). That SDK really works in conjunction with the other pieces that are unique to zSpace. Unity is not the only engine but is one of the development engines that works on zSpace. There are open-source ones as well.

There is a medical application developer called ecopixel. Ecopixel built their own engine. They basically created a DICOM viewer. DICOM is the standard within the medical market. If you have an ultrasound, MIR, or CAT scan and you wanted to visualize it through zSpace, you could use their product. That’s the stack.

Unity has become the de facto AR/VR development environment. Over and above that, we’ve built about 10 applications ourselves. That was to bootstrap the business first when we first started in the education market in 2013. We have many other third parties that we work with. They develop the applications, and in some case, we resell them. So we’ve a very flexible model.

Sramana Mitra: How many third-party developers are developing further on your platform to extend your portfolio of applications?

Paul Kellenberger: We’re in the hundreds. Right now, it’s approaching 500. There’s probably the 80/20 rule. There’s probably 50 applications that today are the ones that are really connected to specific use cases. 

Sramana Mitra: Are they from small startups or are they developed by large companies? Who are the developers behind this work?

Paul Kellenberger: It’s a mixture. Some of them are very small startups with three to five people. Some of them are more in the middle category.

Visible Body started in 2007 and initially wrote their application on Unity for the iPad. They had a lot of initial success. It was a big seller on the iOS store when it first came out. However, swiping and looking at a 3D model in a 2D world could only go so far. They were probably one of the middle-sized ones.

Then we have much larger developers. I can’t go into much detail. One of them is the likes of a Boston Scientific. It’s all different sizes. Everything we’ve done is in the training and simulation market. We have a lot of games that run on zSpace as well. We don’t necessarily take those to market, given education is our current core.

Over time, you’ll see more and more applications in different markets that may be not be developed by zSpace but will certainly support the developers that are moving over to zSpace.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Paul Kellenberger, CEO of zSpace
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