First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nick Cherukuri: My family and I are doing well – we are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ThirdEye.
Nick Cherukuri: I’ve always had a passion for virtual and augmented reality, but it was in college that I really started pursuing it full-time. While in school, I co-founded the Penn Virtual & Augmented Reality Club, which quickly grew to several hundred members. After graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, I founded ThirdEye – a leader in mixed reality for the enterprise. Here, my team and I created the lightest pair of mixed reality glasses on the market at just 300 grams – the X2 MR Glasses, providing an all-in-one hardware and software solution for all industries, including field services (i.e., construction, HVAC, utilities), healthcare and automotive. The hands-free solution for workers maximizes productivity, improves key performance indicators, and betters worker safety.
How does ThirdEye innovate?
Nick Cherukuri: ThirdEye innovates by always keeping an eye on the latest technological advancements as well as pain points in a variety of industries. The world is constantly advancing, and so are ThirdEye’s offerings.
For example, as 5G continues to become more mainstream and we see opportunities for industries to capitalize on the benefits, we established a partnership with Verizon early on for ThirdEye to make advancements that weren’t feasible before. By incorporating the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G and the power of edge computing, workers in all industries will be armed with an MR solution that streamlines communication to save companies money and give workers within the enterprise the resources they need to maximize productivity, improve KPIs, improve worker safety, and make tasks more attractive.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Nick Cherukuri: While the pandemic slowed our production a bit at first, we are now back to 100% operation. Our X2 MR Glasses have actually been helping first responders and healthcare professionals during the pandemic. The X2 MR Glasses allow these professionals to detect fevers – a key symptom of COVID-19 – with an attached thermal sensor. They can also immediately and remotely consult medics through the glasses’ built-in Wi-Fi. The glasses enhance the protection of those on the front lines of the pandemic and increase efficiency for COVID-19 response teams.
In addition, doctors can use glasses for telehealth purposes. For example, a doctor in the hospital system can see exactly what the medic sees in real-time with live audio/video communication. The call can be between multiple users wearing the X2 MR Glasses, glass-to-web, or web-to-web. Users can also send files from web to glass and step-by-step instructions. Other features include live AR image recognition, 3D surgical overlay, and more.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Nick Cherukuri: As a business owner, I’m often faced with difficult choices; however, I was lucky in the fact that COVID-19 didn’t bring on additional challenges. During the pandemic, I’ve learned the importance of customizing our solutions to meet client needs. For example, we’ve customized software solutions for field services (RemoteEye), the visually-impaired (AssistEye), and telehealth (RespondEye) spaces. This has allowed us to cater to the needs of various industries.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and ThirdEye in the future?
Nick Cherukuri: Stress can be a great driver for achieving new things. Many industries are plagued with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, and the fact that we have solutions that can help gives us a tangible outlet to channel any stress. My employees and I have been utilizing this energy to research new solutions the enterprise needs to increase efficiency and keep workers safe, especially as employees work remotely. Now, our team is developing new software and looking at ways to better our hardware to meet the needs of a variety of industries.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Nick Cherukuri: We don’t run into many direct competitors during our sales meetings, but find that tablets are our main competition for market share. However, that changes once we show the benefits of having a hands-free solution. In regard to smart glasses, Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 is our direct competitor. We remain competitive by customizing our software to various industries while also improving our hardware to work in the harshest conditions.
Your final thoughts?
Nick Cherukuri: At 300 grams, ThirdEye’s X2 MR Glasses are the lightest mixed reality glasses on the market and are suited for extensive wear in all conditions. This has proved to be extremely beneficial in field services and healthcare as users can wear them in the roughest conditions. For example, the firefighters at Marcus Hook Fire Department – which protects the borough of Marcus Hook near Philadelphia – have been using the X2 MR Glasses with an attachable FLIR (forward-looking infrared) thermal sensor as part of a pilot program since March. This helps them stay safe, remain hands-free, and keep focused during their mission-critical tasks.
Not only are the glasses helping during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but the X2 MR Glasses will also help advance the adoption of MR technology in various industries long after the pandemic passes. From giving medical professionals the ability to connect with other experts during surgery to allowing construction workers to scan environments into CAD models in real-time, ThirdEye is revolutionizing how we all work one pair of glasses at a time.
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