|Industry||Virtual and augmented reality|
zSpace is a technology firm based in Sunnyvale, California that creates mixed reality systems that combine elements of virtual and augmented reality in a computer. zSpace allows people to interact with simulated objects in virtual environments as if they are real.
zSpace was founded as Infinite Z in 2000 by Michael Vesely and Nancy Clemens. Infinite Z's virtual-holographic platform, the zSpace, was created with backing from the Central Intelligence Agency's In-Q-Tel fund, which invests in technology startups. The innovation represented a new approach to problem solving, designing, teaching, and communicating. Infinite Z formally changed its name to zSpace in 2007.
zSpace found its place among relatively untapped "geospatial markets" with users who would make use of 3-D manipulation technologies. Although the initial target markets were enterprise-based, prospective clients began to recognize a nearly limitless potential for zSpace applications in any endeavor where 3-D study and interaction would be beneficial. Gaming developers and consumers also began to take a keen interest in the budding company. zSpace soon found its way into a variety of sectors including government, medicine and education.
zSpace executives have turned their attention to developing partnerships with "active players" in the VR industry, and made their "primary focus" virtual reality for education and, [to get] applications on zSpace." In November 2012, zSpace released an independent software development kit.
In 2012, zSpace was a featured product for NASA's "TechBriefs". The company collaborated with NASA to be tested as interface technology for future robots, using the program to interact with simulated objects in virtual environments using its imaging displays.
Also in 2012, zSpace was awarded "Best in Show" at the Computer Graphics World Conference. The company also received the Core77 Design Award as "Professional Notable" in Consumer Products. In 2013, zSpace was a finalist in the American Technology Awards in Advanced Manufacturing/Tech Manufacturing.
In 2014, zSpace collaborated with researchers at the University of Tokyo to develop a high speed gesture tracking system. The technology is being used in hospitals by surgeons before procedures. The Los Altos School District began a pilot program using zSpace in STEM classrooms. The technology is also used at UCSF and Stanford for research and medical education, and was featured by Intel at CES 2014.
In September 2015, zSpace announced a partnership with Leopoly, a 3D content provider and modeling platform, to create an application that enabled users to create and customize digital objects for 3D printing. That same year, the company released an updated version of its desktop virtual reality solution, zSpace for Education. The new platform allowed users to manipulate an array of virtual, 3D objects including building circuitry and experimenting with gravity. The release included more than 250 STEAM (science, technology, art and math) lesson plans aligned to the Common core, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and other state standards for K-12 education.
In January 2016, zSpace released a virtual reality internet browser it developed in partnership with Google Chrome's WebGL team. zSpace and GeoGebra announced the release of VR Math, a mathematics application designed for all levels of education in February 2016. The software includes subjects like geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics and calculus. At the ISTE conference in June 2016, zSpace announced new Human Anatomy Atlas content as a result of its partnership with Visible Body. The company also announced that it had partnered with Google to combine zSpace's VR technology with the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program. That same year, zSpace demonstrated its technology to schools across the country via its Mobile Classroom Tour. The tour allowed K-12 students around the country to engage with the company's STEAM applications in a lab setting and experience a variety of different simulations.
At CES 2015, HP announced the HP zVR powered by technology licensed from zSpace. The zSpace system allows for the visualization of data in three dimensions. It consists of three user-responsive components: a stereoscopic display, stylus, and glasses. Working together, these components create an "augmented reality" or "immersive realistic interaction" in which data that appears as a "real object" can be viewed, manipulated, analyzed, and shared. The technology could also be used for virtual hands-on training and gaming.
At ITSE 2015, zSpace released the All-in-One for Education in collaboration with Foxconn Technology Group. The system previously consisted of a virtual reality monitor and separate computer. The updated system provides students with a realistic learning environment that aligns to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core and state standards. The virtual-holographic images can be lifted from the screen and manipulated with the accompanying stylus. The solution allows for group interaction as participants only need 3D glasses as opposed to VR headsets.
The zSpace system uses a 1920 x 1080 pixel LCD screen, and the hardware switches between the left and right images through a circularly polarized light that enters the eye. The glasses contain small reflective tabs that the computer uses to track where users are looking. This software prevents nausea and headaches by keeping the image focused.
Since 2012, zSpace has been used by more than 150,000 students in the U.S. and in other countries around the world. The company's technology was awarded "Best in Show" at the ISTE conference from 2015-16. In 2016, zSpace was named one of the 5 most innovative and fast-growing companies in America by Inc. magazine while also ranking 143 on the Inc. 5000 list and second in the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
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