Looking back over the last two years feels like time travel – it’s all so different. So much work has been put in by so many engineers and designers across a half dozen companies. Countless demonstrations to soldiers, medics, and military leadership have occupied large portions of the calendar. More than a million airline miles have piled up behind the quest for technology innovation. But two years ago, we could not have imagined the path that we took to get here. Instead, we were still focused on the dream of what could be built.
Two years ago, APX Labs didn’t exist. John and I were leading product development at Battlefield Telecommunication Systems looking for opportunities to leverage a new cellular technology to deliver mobile content, i.e. intelligence data, to soldiers. However, opportunity presented itself and the APEX division was created within BTS to prototype a new type of mobile experience for the battlefield – augmented reality (AR).
It was insanely hard work (still is). We knew the technology had huge potential and we knew we had to work harder than our competition to get out in front of the AR bow wave. John had two couches in his lab, so we spent weeks in a row sleeping at the office to prototype AR software at night while working on the “paying” cellular systems during the day. It got to the point John actually closed his lease and just moved into the office – but, it paid off. When we showed up to demo the initial system, it worked and we were able to demonstrate a capability that had only been seen in movies. We had created augmented reality software for see-through AR glasses that could biometrically identify people when you looked at them – “Terminator Vision”. That was December of 2010.
Within 3 months of our start, APEX had moved into its own office (three people in one room), had its first contract, and hired its first full time employee, Paul. Paul took this 5am photo, one of my favorites, of John and I coding the original user interface the night before our first major conference presentation at Intelligence Warfighter Summit in 2010.
The more we developed our technology the more it became apparent; Augmented Reality wasn’t just a great compliment to BTS’s cellular systems, it was an entire market segment that could eventually touch all walks of life. It honestly felt dizzying. We couldn’t think of a single problem that AR couldn’t be adapted to help. It was our “ah ha” moment of sorts. So we got serious. We brought in our third partner, Jeff, bought out control of our own company, changed the name to APX Labs and set out with a mission to create the most compelling uses of Augmented Reality in the world. We weren’t focused on having characters pop out of QR codes or glyphs, but instead create a fully immersive AR experience, specifically designed for Augmented Reality glasses and supported by purpose built back-end systems. We didn’t want to be another kitschy AR company, we wanted to evolve AR into the mainstream experience.
You are going to start hearing a lot more from us. In the next few months we will be showing up at key conferences, participating in standards setting groups, updating our blog periodically, and demo’ing our products to the some of biggest companies in the world. In the meantime don’t hesitate to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.