Chattanooga firm brings augmented reality to mobile devices

Chattanooga firm brings augmented reality to mobile devices

August 2nd, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Matthew Carroll holds a Samsung Galaxy Tab as Taylor McDonald poses to demonstrate a reality application that Second Site developed. McDonald appears to be holding a statue that can be found near the Tennessee Aquarium.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

• Name: Second Site

• Products/services: A group of UTC alumni is well into their first wave of augmented reality applications. Using the camera attached to a touchscreen phone or tablet, designers can overlay pop-ups that display information if the user touches an icon. From finding a car in the parking lot, locating a WiFi hotspot or even identifying the artist on one of the 170 pieces of public art in Chattanooga, the only thing holding the technology back is the speed at which users can stream data to their device. The current, GPS-based technology is mainly focused on outdoor points of interest, but owners are developing software to identify visual cues and pull up relevant videos, pictures and text without a GPS connection. The visual browser, called Layar, is available on Android, iOS and Symbian devices, and will come preloaded on Windows Mobile devices.

• Age: Founded in April 2011 by Taylor McDonald, Andy Carroll and Matthew Carroll

• Startup investment: $25,000

• Estimated annual sales: $300,000

• Target market: Smartphone and tablet users

• Biggest hurdle: As more businesses, municipal and non-profit clients find out about the technology, the demands on founders' time have put stress on the day jobs they use to pay the bills during the launch phase.

• Biggest reward: "Helping to shape the future of augmented reality is part of the fun of doing this," McDonald said.

• Challenges in the future: "Keeping up with technology is like running after a freight train," McDonald said. The team members say they spend hours per day following the latest advances worldwide.

• Lesson learned: It's important to listen to feedback, including negative feedback.

• Five-year goal: In five years the founders want to be a full-service company dealing in content, software and services, and a recognized leader in the Augmented Reality field.

-- Compiled by staff writer Ellis Smith, or 423-757-6315