April 1st 2017 marks six years for TWNKLS, making this pioneering company a dinosaur in the world of Augmented Reality (AR). What began as two curious Dutch entrepreneurs in a non-existent market has proven to be a serious contender, now competing with 15 heavyweights in the international arena. How they did it? The TWNKLS founders, Gerben Harmsen and Lex van der Sluijs, describe their journey and share their vision for the years ahead.
CREATING A MARKET
When TWNKLS started out in 2011, they were practically falling over all the new technologies. Most of these, however, fell short on execution, had no clear application or were bought up by larger companies. According to Lex:
“It was a very exciting time. With so many new AR technologies, we expected the market to take off at any moment! But the technologies often had many hidden limitations, therefore it took longer than we expected.”
Their first AR project was making the world’s first virtual postage stamp. It was a neat, new way of conveying information. For Gerben and Lex, it also showed how well their combined experience with the technology and feeling for strong content came together for a concrete business case. And so, TWNKLS was born and the challenging search for clients began. Gerben explains:
“We owe a lot to our early clients who believed in what we were doing. Their patience, resources and open mind made the initial showcase projects a reality.”
ALWAYS TWO STEPS AHEAD
Companies would often see a new technology in the US and want to work with it. In many cases, TWNKLS was a pioneer worldwide, already working with the technology in the market. So, what gave TWNKLS this head start?
- Clients come first. While others were busy making gimmicks to show off what the technology could do, TWNKLS focused on solving serious business problems for its clients, all along the value chain.
- Hands-on mentality. With the pragmatism the Dutch are famous for, TWNKLS makes use of the technologies available, figures out what is missing and builds a solution. This approach has given them tremendous knowledge and expertise in AR and computer vision techniques.
- Understand how it works. TWNKLS understands how the technology is put together. Their R&D department has grown and they can now also build the user-friendly interfaces to offer clients a complete package.
“We were one of the few worldwide to engage with the market and at the same time able to develop our own technology to find meaningful solutions.”
UP NEXT: AUGMENTING COLLABORATION
TWNKLS is growing up. Projects and experimentation in the pioneering phase now give way to developing AR products for the business market. By now, Gerben and Lex know the field of AR inside and out. They know where the opportunities lie, what technological challenges they face and also what can be achieved and within what timeframe.
Currently, TWNKLS is focusing on something special: collaborative AR. This enables people to work together from anywhere in the world, supported by each other and by AR technology. Whether for healthcare sector, security or for technical maintenance, the core is helping people to collaborate and solve problems, and to present them with the right information at the right place and time.
A few examples of TWNKLS can do. Click to learn more!
- Otolift Stairlift Configuration and Visualization (2013). The AR technology involves recognition, tracking, 3D reconstruction and representation. It won the Silicon Valley Award for its extreme precision in measurement.
- Mauritshuis Pellegrini App (2015). A milestone in the technical advances in tracking up to the lowest level of pixels. The app enabled museum visitors to relive the restoration of the Golden Hall of the Mauritshuis.
- WEMO Operator system Together with WEMO, specialist in machine building and machine components, we created an application for HoloLens which lets an operator run a full production line by himself.