Capturing every angle

De Pere's Avatarium an innovator with 3D imagery

Posted on Jan 29, 2016 :: Small Business Spotlight
Andrew Schaick
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

In a 3D, 360-degree world, it’s all about the angles.

De Pere-based Avatarium 3D has them all covered.

Avatarium is blazing a new trail in the 3D imaging industry with its creation of a new capture studio that can grab a 3D photo in a fraction of a second. For Vice President Will Van Epern, Avatarium’s 3D capture studio is moving the company a step ahead of its competitors.

“This is the first turnkey package available,” says Van Epern. “Most systems out there right now are scanner-based, so they use a completely different technology where it scans your body, makes the model, and then you have to
match photographs up with the scanned model. It’s a more labor intensive process.”

This studio, or booth, is made to be portable and can easily be set up at expos, concerts, weddings and other places that have large groups of people.

With a price starting at $80,000, the booth holds 134 cameras strategically placed to capture the entire subject. As a turnkey operation, the entire booth is made in-house by the company’s four employees and the mounts the cameras are placed in are 3D printed as well.

Van Epern says the problem with most of the scanner-based 3D capture technology on the market is that it takes up to 15 seconds to create the images, requiring the subject to remain perfectly still. With Avatarium’s single shot capture, which is similar to taking a photograph, babies and pets can now be captured instantaneously.

After the photo is taken, processing the photos into the 3D model takes anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes. After the 3D model is generated, there are multiple uses for the capture.

Virtual avatar

The company unveiled its product in October 2015 at the 3D Print Expo in Santa Clara, Calif.

As one of the early entries into the market, the interest level has ramped up quickly from a variety of industries, from gaming to fashion to movies, says Marla Maney, account strategist for Avatarium.

“There are currently three of these modular arrays in the marketplace, and more soon to be deployed,” Maney says. “Our biggest marketing strategy for this product is word of mouth, and the word is spreading very quickly.”

Virtual avatars are beginning to fill many real-life tasks.

“Hollywood is very interested in this for movies and animation, the gaming industry for creating your own real-life avatar, and even the fashion industry as well,” Van Epern says.

As online shopping continues to grow, technology that improves the experience is evolving as well. Avatarium 3D is working with the fashion industry to create virtual fitting rooms that will enhance the online shopping experience.

“Fashion is another area we are working very hard on with the idea of having a virtual online fitting room so customers can try on clothes and know exactly how they are going to fit and look on them,” Van Epern says.

3D printed figurine

To stay in tune with the “cool” factor Avitarium’s 3D technology brings to the table, customers can get their 3D model printed into a figurine as a tangible form of the imagery created.

Whether it’s a family photo, a single person or even a family pet, Avatarium 3D can literally bring a photo to life.

“This is a new-to-world product that a lot of people still don’t know exists,” says Van Epern. “And the best part is, this has been engineered and developed right here in De Pere.”

At the forefront of Avatarium 3D’s business strategy is innovation. Van Epern says to push the innovation envelope, the company needs to constantly think ahead and determine how they can get better.

“Even though we just recently launched this product, we have another image studio that will be coming out in April, which is called the Avatarium Lite,” Van Epern says. “The unit will be lighter in weight, which will make set-
up take less time.”

As a business that started out just months ago, having a vision and staying focused on that vision is something that is practiced every time a new idea comes to the table.

“In this industry it is easy to become distracted with everything going on around you,” Van Epern says. “Staying focused and thinking about how you can continue to raise the bar really pushes the development of innovation.”