‘We’re the Walt Disney of industrial animation’

Founder says key differentiator for Mersus Technologies’ image technology is how it combines art with science

Mersus Technologies’ chief executive and founder Geoff Allen at The Irish Times Innovation Awards judging day. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Mersus Technologies’ chief executive and founder Geoff Allen at The Irish Times Innovation Awards judging day. Photograph: Conor McCabe

 

Athlone-based Mersus Technologies has developed an immersive virtual reality platform that mirrors real-world environments and scenarios so precisely it can be used to train workers in the latest advanced manufacturing processes. This has been achieved through the combination of traditional animation art with the very latest in computer-generated image technology. “We’re the Walt Disney of industrial animation,” says chief executive and founder Geoff Allen.

The company makes use of rendering or image-synthesis technology. This is an automated process that takes real or artistically created images and animates them. “The new technology enables real-time rendering,” Allen explains. “It’s gaming animation as opposed to the traditional frame by frame process. It’s Tom Clancy Black Ops not Disney. It renders in front of you. In the past you sat at a keyboard and looked in at the computer. Now you have human-centred computing where you wear glasses or immersive headsets. We are taking gaming animation and giving it an industrial slant. We take existing computer-aided design assets and data and put additional value on them. We reuse them in a different format.”

‘Magic sauce’

According to Allen, the key differentiator for the technology is how it combines art with science. “The magic sauce for us is that we have technical knowledge combined with the visual prowess of animation artists. What differentiates us as Irish people is that we are storytellers. We are providing quality content for both new computing platforms and the next generation of storytelling. Storytelling is a business that Ireland has excelled at and by combining this with our domain knowledge we have developed an immersive platform where you can train new staff using on even the most complex of equipment.”

The technology has been in development for the past five years and the company has met its 2018 target of winning three new customers including Swedish clean air solutions specialist Camfil and German industrial giant Siemens.

“Working with Camfil on the use of the technology for sales and marketing and training applications,” says Allen. “We can use high resolution images and video to create an immersive environment for technical support training. We are working with Siemens on a multi-user virtual space.”

3D video conferencing

This is a a kind of 3D video conferencing where participants in different locations meet in a virtual room and discuss and manipulate demonstration objects on a table in front of them.

“We are also looking at training in the pharma sector,” he adds. “We are looking at how we can train people to work in clean room environments. We’ll put you in any environment you want. The only limit is your imagination. The next generation of the technology will see the addition of haptic tools where people will have a sense of touch as well. We will be integrating with the technology with data analytics and AI and so on as well.”

Looking to the future he says the outlook is “beyond brilliant”. “We are hitting our targets with three customers this year and are looking forward to rapid growth in 2019. We have also attracted investment from the Far East.”

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