Many of you must be familiar with the role that Stanford University has played in the evolution of Silicon Valley. History lesson: Back in 1939, Stanford graduates William Hewlett and David Packard started a company in Packard’s garage. They called it Hewlett-Packard (H-P). In the mid-fifties, H-P moved to the Stanford Research Park, a patch of land that the University had started leasing out to high technology companies after World War II to meet growing expenses. H-P was the first startup to lease premises at the Park. H-P went on to become one of the world’s largest personal computer makers. Stanford, meanwhile, broadened its association with technology startups and went on to incubate a few famous ones as well. It remains a close association.
The present: the venerable institution, like many Valley-based VCs and technology companies, has begun to see India has an emerging hub for technology-driven innovation. VC friends in Bangalore tell me there’s a delegation of Stanford academia and students in the city almost very quarter. They talk to local entrepreneurs, network with VCs here and some students even come back to start companies. I’ve met a couple of guys who are setting up startups at this moment but can’t disclose details.
What I can tell you is that Stanford University has incubated its first Indian tech startup — 3D Solid Compression — it is an interactive 3D modeling company. Some of you may have already met them. I stumbled upon them about a year ago when I met the CEO, KK Venkatraman, at a VC-startup networking do at SVB Global’s premises in Bangalore. Venkat had joined them in July that year and explained to me that the 3DSoc had started off as a joint initiative between Stanford University and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Translation: it was incubated on-campus at IISc and seed funded by the two institutes. The founders are academics — Fritz Pinz, professor of mechanical engineering and material sciences at Stanford, Krishnan Ramaswami, research consultant at IISc, and B Gurumoorthy, professor or mechanical engineering and product design at IISc. The company’s patented products are out now under the names VISViewer and VISTrans.
I’m not a technology expert so will not be able to explain what these products do. You could visit the website to find out more. I’m going to invite Venkat to write in a little explanatory piece, if he’s game. Not sure if they’ve managed to rope in funding yet. When I spoke to Venkat last October, he was in the market for funding. Hope they get there.
Update: Venkat explains what 3D Soc does:
Today 3-Dimensional (3D) Computer Graphics is restricted to the realms of the high end and specialized world of CAD/CAM and Animation software. 3DSoC’s vision is to extend the power of 3D to pretty much everyone who wants to visualise in 3D. It could be many things – like someone wanting a 3D walkthrough of their architectural plans or to exchange 3D greetings or maybe an aspiring sportsman wanting a 3D analysis of his personal performances or a consumer shopping for a product like say a mobile phone or a laptop, wanting a virtual experience. And importantly, you’d prefer to have these 3D experiences right from your web browser, rather than having to install any custom software.
One of the primary challenges here lies in the large files size of 3D models – today you’ll need dedicated bandwidth to transmit them over a network. 3DSoc has addressed this challenge by coming up with a patented file format (called VIS), which could potentially compress 3D models by about 100 times – this implies: (a) the models can be squeezed enough to go over even low bandwidth pipes,(b) you could have an interactive experience & (c) the models could be received on ANY device connected to the internet through a standard web browser. Its’ a bit like what MP3 is to Audio. Hope that helps!
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