Scandit is a market leader in mobile computer vision, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Christof Roduner, VP Engineering, CIO and co-founder of Scandit talks about the company’s new office in Tampere, Finland and its role in building the next generation of Scandit products.
What does Scandit do?
– Scandit enables enterprises and consumers to change the way they interact with everyday objects.
– Usually the Internet of Things (IoT) is about making objects appear smart by building electronics in them. It is expensive and complicated, and we don’t want that. Our approach is to take the mobile phone with a camera and use computer vision to recognize barcodes, text and objects, and then leverage augmented reality to create digital experiences.
– A typical application for our customers is in retail: a customer points their smartphone at a product in a store and the phone will then display product information, videos, pictures and reviews over the image on the screen with augmented reality (AR).
– In another scenario, a customer points a smartphone at the entire shelf and we highlight, for example, all lactose-free products with AR.
– Scandit’s mobile data capture platform is built on proprietary computer vision, augmented reality, and machine learning technologies.
What is the focus of your Tampere site?
– We opened our office in Tampere to tap into the abundance of knowledge around cameras in mobile phones and image processing, to improve our existing products and to build the next generation of products based on machine learning.
– The Tampere office is working closely with our Zurich office, but we want to build a team that can drive product development independently.
Why Tampere, Finland?
– First of all, it’s because of the expertise that is available in the Tampere area: great engineers with a lot of experience highly relevant for Scandit.
– What really helped us to get started in Tampere was the opportunity to hire multiple people at the same time. We heard from Oliver Hussey of Business Tampere that there was this team of engineers available. We talked to some of them and found that their skill sets were a very good match for Scandit’s needs.
– All the practical things with setting up the new office went really smoothly, as everyone has been super helpful.
– Scandit also has an earlier link to Tampere, since Nokia phones were the first devices for which we built our technology. When the Scandit founders were PhD students at ETH Zurich, we had research collaborations with Nokia and met with the Nokia people in Tampere.
What’s particularly strong or unique in Tampere?
– Scandit is all about working with images acquired with a mobile phone camera. The essential innovation in this area happened in Tampere back in the days and has flourished ever since.
– Tampere University is strong in the field of image processing, resulting in very well-educated image processing engineers who are available on the job market.
– I participated in a Tampere Imaging Ecosystem event in June 2019, and it was great to see how lively the imaging community is in Tampere and how this is a forum that can be leveraged for collaboration with other companies in the field.
How do you see the future?
– Scandit has been growing rapidly for the past five years, and we expect this to continue into the future. We also expect our office in Tampere to be expanding at the same rate.
– Scandit’s growth is fueled by investments, recently by GV (formerly Google Ventures) and NGP Capital, among others. The market is developing very fast. We can be the ones that enable retailers and others to step up and digitize their customer experience – and we’ll bring some of that growth to Tampere.
– The field of computer vision is evolving very rapidly and has seen a lot of exciting innovations that will transform how businesses operate. By leveraging machine learning and augmented reality, we allow companies in retail, transportation, logistics, manufacturing and healthcare to reap the benefits of these developments, make their processes more efficient and offer novel and engaging experiences to customers.
About your background…
– My PhD is from ETH Zurich in computer science and I’ve been a researcher at ETH Zurich and MIT, working on projects related to the Internet of Things with well-known industry partners (Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, etc.). For more details, visit the Scandit website.
– We founded Scandit in 2009 and from the beginning it was clear that we wanted it to become a big, international company. That is why our first office outside of Switzerland was opened in the US.
What is the fondest memory or achievement in your career?
– The Scandit team events, for sure. We do a big company outing every year, which brings everyone together from the US and all over Europe. Every year it is a bigger crowd, and it is great to see how people are excited about innovation and passionate about technology – like I am. That is my motivation.
The story is based on an interview from June 2019 when Scandit announced the opening of their Tampere office. Author: Päivi Stenroos
Did you know that Tampere region in Finland is one of the top imaging hubs in the world? If you want to be part of the constantly growing Tampere Imaging Ecosystem, contact Mr. Oliver Hussey at Business Tampere.