Industry: Tech & Automation
Product: 3D augmented reality app
CEO Aaron Anderson and CPO Brenden Monahan are leveraging 3D modeling in product design to foster collaboration and improve manufacturability.
Anderson, a former U.S. Army Special Forces engineer, and Monahan, an aerospace engineer, met during an executive MBA program at University of California, Irvine. The two combined their backgrounds in defense and aerospace to co-found Vusar.
The goal? Improving engagement in the manufacturing process. "In my 20 years in mechanical engineering, I discovered there is a systemic inability for communication during the design process," says Monahan.
"Working with programs like CAD, Brenden and I realized it is a very complex tool with a high barrier to entry," adds Anderson. "It was through the discovery process during our executive MBA program that we figured out how to make the engagement process easier and more impactful."
The two came up with an easy-to-use app, that brings project designs into augmented reality. "This offers a better way to view, interact, share, and collaborate with other design team members who can give valuable feedback quickly throughout the entire design stage," says Anderson.
The Vusar app can be downloaded to any mobile device, allowing collaborators to visualize a 3D design at scale in the real world. "Vusar is a communication and collaboration tool that allows people to get their ideas out," says Anderson. "It offers a platform to share and get more people involved in the design process, from engineers to graphic artists, sales teams, and even influencers before the prototype is even built."
While the benefits of using this design tool can change how products are ultimately designed and manufactured, Vusar is still in its infancy and looking to get the product into the hands of more engineers. "We're still in the pre-funding stage," says Anderson. "We incubated in business school, and because this is a software tool, we can work efficiently with employees and interns working remotely. Our goal is to get this tool to be used as a cloud-based solution and to become a part of the design process leading up to manufacturing."
Adds Monahan: "Using CAD as the genesis of 3D design, manufacturers can move into product life-cycle management. Companies can move forward where AR can benefit. The design then extends out beyond a physical thing and becomes an experience. We can use AR to add our surroundings and take data from the real world to help make crucial decisions, such as managing the space for manufacturing of the product before it begins."
In one example, Monahan says a customer used Vusar to upload their CAD models and went out into an area of their manufacturing facility and demonstrated their design. "Everyone had a tablet and could see and interact with the model in the real world," he explains.
Monahan also tells a story where Vusar's app could have mitigated a problem in advance: "A friend of mine who works at a new Amazon facility told me that the company had their engineers from Seattle, Washington, design the conveyor system for the square footage of the building. The pieces were sent, and during assembly, the building's structural poles were in the way. Using our app could have saved the company thousands of dollars by virtually adding in the conveyor systems to see where they would actually fit."
Challenges: "The more partners interested in a pilot program with us, the more companies we can engage, and the more we can learn," says Monahan. "We're challenged to get this in the hands of more companies to get feedback on the product."
There's another logistical issue delivering the app to users. "The app is available on Google and the Apple Store, but we see data coming in that shows people falling off because we weren't managing their expectations on the download time," says Anderson. "We are slowly reaching the point where we're getting solutions to customers in a rapid manner."
Opportunities: "We've been developing a feature called Live Share, that allows people to be in the same room from remote locations, and have a meeting with the 3D project there with them," says Monahan. "Everyone with a device can see the same thing as if the object was in the room."
"We've also been working with the CMTC, who sees value in what we're doing and are working on getting us partners to work with," adds Anderson. "This will also get our product into more hands and we can get feedback on additional benefits that Vusar can offer manufacturers."
Needs: "Right now we need more engineers, but at the same time, we also need more marketing to improve sales," says Anderson. "Knowing the customer journey is a big part of developing software like this to drive the narrative."