22 January 2018 11:04:12 IST

Augmented route to the future

IIT-M incubated Beebox Studios uses AR applications to transform user experiences across industries

Imagine if you could walk around your dream house and customise the interiors and design, even before it’s built. Or check the electrical circuits without touching the wiring. With augmented reality (AR), all this is in the realm of the possible.

AR is expected to change the way we experience the future and the world itself. With this in mind, 40-year-old Prasad Sukumaranunni started Beebox Studios Pvt Ltd, an IIT Madras incubated company, in July 2017.

Beebox Studios mainly works on exploring the endless possibilities of AR applications and creating solutions that can transform experiences in several sectors. “We design, develop and provide advisory services in the field of augmented reality applications and solutions across multiple industry verticals, which can enhance the user experience,” says Prasad. The company is trying to create a generic AR software that can be used by anyone, with a focus on the real estate sector right now.

This, essentially, means everything from building a house to buying one becomes significantly easier. “Realtors anyway have model houses and some even use applications such as SketchUp to show 3D models to potential buyers. With our AR software, buyers can walk around a house and customise the design and interiors on multiple levels. This can boost the real estate market,” explains Prasad. Even maintenance personnel can use it to work better.


AR vs VR

Along with augmented reality, another term is going to be popular in the future – virtual reality (VR). In the latter, objects are generated in a virtual environment; in the former, the virtual objects are an addition to the real environment. While Prasad plans to develop the software so that it can be used on any VR or AR device, it will work best with AR hardware, he says.

Currently, Beebox Studios is utilising Microsoft HoloLens, worth around ₹2 lakhs, for the initial developments. The device is one of the best AR devices in the market, but Prasad believes that more and cheaper devices will flow into the market in the next two or three years. Until then, he admits, his software has limited use.

In total, he has put in ₹40 lakh of his own money for the initial six to eight months. With the help of IIT-M’s Incubation Cell, he plans to spend the next two years perfecting the software.

Positive outlook

Prasad, who has a software engineering background, took a big risk when he left the comforts of his previous job with Motorola Solutions to start this venture. “It’s natural to worry about stability and comfort. There’s also the thought of failure; but I don’t fear it. Even if I fail, I’ll know that I have learnt so much in the process,” he says.

According to him, starting Beebox changed him. “I was the principal software engineer at Motorola Solutions and we were always encouraged to innovate. Before, I always saw things from the technical side. Now, I have learnt to see the business angle of a project as well.”

His positive attitude goes a step further: “The first thing people do when you tell them you’re starting your own venture is discourage you. But if you’re passionate and believe in yourself, their words won’t matter. It’s important to take that first step; why be afraid? Mostly, Indians prefer being followers. This is my chance to lead some kind of change.”