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Campfire has launched its holographic collaboration system for enterprise extended reality (XR) applications.
At the core of the system is a new multi-platform app for PC, Mac, and iPad — as well as a specialized XR headset for the PC. Now teams can collaborate across those platforms in meetings with XR visualizations. The company spent years working on the product.
Hybrid teams can now collaborate using 3D models and scans with the simplicity of modern 2D collaboration tools, and experience high-fidelity holograms in meetings that require face-to-face communication, said Jay Wright, CEO of Campfire, in an interview with VentureBeat.
“We define holographic collaboration as people around the digital models of physical things,” Wright said. “Others refer to these sometimes as digital twins. Those people may all be in the same room or they can be in different locations. This use case has long been promised, but not delivered, as there’s just way too much friction in current devices and software to make this work. However, to the extent there is a killer app for enterprise XR, this is it.”
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Wright believes there are reasons behind that. On the one hand, this is where technology can best meet basic human and business needs for communicating without expensive travel.
“AR and VR are fundamentally visualization technologies that help us visualize 3D information, how our brains perceive it most naturally,” he said. “. And it does it better than the internet we have. It’s very difficult for us humans to visualize 3D stuff when we see it on a piece of paper or computer screen or even a video. Our inability to do that leads to all kinds of problems in core business processes, specifically in design reviews and training.”
Campfire came out of stealth mode two years ago, but it took time to refine the product. Campfire realizes the promise of holographic collaboration, allowing hybrid teams to collaborate using digital models of physical objects. Initially focused on design reviews and training, Campfire dramatically reduces the need for travel, shipping, and rework, he said.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to get this out in the wild after two years of effort,” Wright said.
The service has free plans and it can cost up to $1,500 for an individual app-based system. It costs $15,000 a year for an enterprise version with the XR headset. Those prices are of course expensive for the consumer markets but normal for enterprise applications aimed at replacing more expensive solutions such as face-to-face meetings and travel costs.
The multi-platform experience can be accessed with a simple link, making it as easy as opening a Google Doc. Rather than opening a 2D document, users join a 3D scene composed from more than 40 types of 3D models and scans.
Collaborators can interact in meetings or offline with powerful tools to explore and annotate content. Regardless of device, hybrid teams can perform work virtually that today involves travel, shipping, and delays from inefficient communication using 2D methods.
“We’ve been looking at AR and VR for 15 years because the potential productivity gains and cost savings are so great,” said Ryan Wheeler, senior fellow advanced visualizations at Collins Aerospace, in a statement. “We engaged with Campfire because it’s hands down the easiest-to-use solution I’ve seen and the best visual experience in a headset. Campfire opens the door to a much broader set of use cases that we couldn’t previously address.”
Today’s announcement follows two years of working with customers seeking to drive productivity and sustainability in digital transformation initiatives. Hundreds of companies applied for Campfire’s Early Access Program. Innovators in industries including aerospace, automotive, medical devices, retail, and apparel provided valuable feedback to ensure Campfire serves a wide range of workflows.
“Enterprise XR has been a fragmented mess of point solutions that fail to scale for lack of usability and utility,” said Wright. “We designed Campfire to solve a basic human challenge that XR technology uniquely solves – the difficulty of communicating 3D information. We’ve made it easier than ever, and are proud to bring it to market.”
Debuting two years ago
Early on, Campfire had a couple of applications and a few peripherals to address the problem. They allowed PC users to take CAD and other 3D scans and share them with other people. And the Campfire viewer allowed those people to collaborate with those shared models on a PC or iPad. The response to those initial apps was good.
But defense and aerospace customers said that the types of things they needed to visualize did not fit on a table, and so they needed to collaborate in larger spaces. During the past year, the company worked on a lot of software to further extended the capabilities, such as support for flat screens.
The company also consolidated its two different apps into a single Campfire app that works across platforms.
“Within just the XR collaboration software space, we think there are really two critical elements that matter for a solution to be adopted. No. 1, it has to be easy to use,” Wright said. “That means it has to be across both flat screens and headsets. The other is it’s got to be something where I can actually get work done. That means getting in the data. I care about providing the tools so that people can make decisions with that data. I think Campfire stands alone in its ability to deliver on both those dimensions.”
Campfire works with dozens of different formats, including glTF and Universal Scene Description.
The following products are now available:
Wright said this app brings the simplicity of modern 2D collaboration tools to 3D. You can use it to organize more than 40 types of 3D models into scenes and share with links. Users can also open links to collaborate using powerful tools for explaining and understanding complex concepts.
It supports users on the PC (Windows 10+), Mac, and iPad. There are free plans available and enterprise plans start at $1,500 per user per year. You can request invite at campfire3d.com/invite.
Wright did a demo for me where a different member of his team logged into a collaboration using Campfire on a bunch of different devices. And it worked flawlessly across 2D and 3D devices. They showed a scan of a shoe in three dimensions. It was captured with an iPhone. Just by sharing a link with each other, everyone could see the same image. They typed in text comments and those comments showed up in real time.
The company said the headset has the world’s highest fidelity AR for meetings that require face-to-face communication. It features more than four times the field-of-view by area compared to today’s leading AR headset, with unparalleled image quality.
It uses the iPhone as a controller with the Campfire Pack. And it uses Campfire Console or Studio Console for reliable shared holograms in offices, meeting rooms, and collaboration spaces.
It is certified with Dell Precision Workstations for plug-and-play using Thunderbolt-3. And it is available exclusively in Campsite Starter Kit.
Campsite Starter Kit
Meanwhile, the Campfire Starter Kit bundles hardware and software together so companies can get started with holographic collaboration immediately.
The company said the kit is the fastest way to get started with holographic collaboration – get up and running in less than an hour. It includes two Campfire Headsets/Packs/Consoles, five enterprise user licenses, one Studio Console. It is available in the U.S., United Kingdom and the European Union for $15,000 a year.
Campfire has 70 patents.
“Ultimately, we see this as a general-purpose tool. But initially, as I said before, I think the workflows where it really creates a lot of value is in design reviews and training,” Wright said. “We’ve smoothed out the edges in our functionality. We’re very clearly planting our flag on this being the world’s highest fidelity.”
As for the rumors of Apple launching an AR headset, Wright said he was very excited about that rumor.
Wright said the company has gone through a couple of hype cycles in the space and it is exiting the hype cycle everyone called the metaverse.
“But I think we’ve we’ve remained focused on solving real problems and building products that are easy to use and getting rid of barriers to adoption,” Wright said. “And we’re super excited that we can finally make this available. And we are really super excited again about other devices that are going to come out that I think are really going to make this use case in this application take off.”
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