January 14, 2011 in ATDC News

The Startup Chronicles: ShapeStart Weighs In

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Only one ATDC company has a life-sized reproduction of a pig in their office. I can never resist taking new ATDC visitors by to see it. Chilean diplomats, government sponsors, volunteers and new members regularly peek in to see the big pink swine. I once asked the ShapeStart’s CEO and co-founder Karol (Pronounced “Carl”) Hatzilias “Why scan pigs when you could just weigh them?” Straight-faced he shot back, “Have you ever tried to get a pig to stand still on a scale?” Clear market need in one short question.

ShapeStart is a 3D imaging technology company. They create products targeted to applications where knowing the precise shape and size of an object yields significant business advantages. Their first product was The Weight Reader, a portable 3D imaging device used to determine the weight of hogs without having to hustle them onto a scale. The value farmers are paid per pound of pork depends on their ability to deliver animals within a target weight range. The Weight Reader improves the consistency and accuracy of appraising the hogs and, as a result, increases the profitability and efficiency of hog farm operations.

The company is also developing an in-ear 3D scanner for the US Navy with SBIR grants of over $1 million. The device captures the dimensions of ear canals to produce custom fitting ear plugs. The scanner will replace current state of the art technology for custom internal ear devices, which is to squirt silicone into an ear canal, cure it while in the ear, and then pull it out and use it to create a mold for a device. A quick, simple scan sounds so much less…. squishy.

Having a Navy SBIR gives the company access to a built-in customer base to support future growth. As a bonus, this technology could forseeably be used for other applications such as custom hearing aide fitting.

The ShapeStart team built their products based on technology used at 3DScanCo, also co-founded by Karol. 3DScanCo sports some very impressive clients including the US Declaration of Independence, well to be more specific, its frame. The company’s engineers helped digitally restore the bronze frame surrounding the original document at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. The 3D scanning services company also scanned military trucks to provide input for vehicle armor kits to protect operators in Iraq.

ShapeStart is an ATDC company on the make. They are passionate about 3D scanning and have a great time using their technology to improve the bottom line for their customers. From their quarterly project day to their thoughtful and fun development process, ShapeStart is weighing in at the top of their class.

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