Is “Metaverse” a flash-in-the-pan? An ephemeral vision soon to succumb to reality? This news from Hexagon from a couple of weeks ago is about the last I’ve heard. There was one comment about metaverse at the trade show I visited this week, but I think the person spoke ironically.

At any rate, the technologies (if not use cases) are real and under development. Hexagon has announced previously a startup incubator called Sixth Sense—an “accelerator-style” program to fast-track their solutions to commercial success.

Hexagon has announced eight startups that will join its fold under its Sixth Sense. These start-ups have been identified by Sixth Sense as the next big thing for digital reality solutions in the manufacturing sector (digital reality, AR, VR Metaverse).

Examples of the start-ups’ innovations include:

  • A ‘handheld lab’ gel scanner that replicates human skin tactility to autonomously test materials
  • An algorithm that can analyse an entire car or plane, and in seconds recommend which elements would be stronger, cheaper or lighter if 3D-printed
  • An app that takes product data and turns it into a 3D virtual and interactive model, using any smartphone
  • An AR overlay to remote customer service, enabling technicians to literally show how it’s done

Eight ‘best of the best’ startups have won out in a competitive pitch process and will join a rigorous ten-week programme to inform and refine their offering with Hexagon’s market insights to global brands like Audi, Boeing, and Microsoft. It will conclude in showcase in February, where two winners will be offered a unique opportunity to scale with Hexagon’s portfolio and bring their digital reality solution directly to customers.

The eight start-ups are:

  • 3YOURMIND, Berlin, Germany—enables more agile manufacturing with a software suite that standardises, optimises and automates the entire process chain to enable on-demand part production. Software is designed to efficiently schedule and track manufacturing processes – from the initial order to the finished part.
  • Augmentir, Horsham, USA—provides companies with smart insights to the workforce and processes, from “hire to retire”. The collected data helps to reduce time to productivity, enables targeted reskilling and upskilling, and provides individualised guidance and support at the point of work.
  • Threedy, Darmstadt, Germany—provides the visual computing technologies to translate the ever-growing web of 3D, business and process data into highly responsive and interactive 3D applications. Its instant3Dhub technology translates existing 3D data entities into highly interactive experiences while minimising device and infrastructure costs.
  • oculavis, Aachen, Germany—develops Visual Assistance software which connects machinery and equipment with experts, technicians and customers worldwide. Intuitive Augmented Reality (AR) annotations in video calls facilitate focused collaboration between technicians and clients.
  • CASTOR, Tel Aviv, Israel—provides automated 3D printing software which analyses thousands of parts simultaneously and offers deep technical analysis of a complete machine design. It enables manufacturers to identify cost reduction opportunities, suggests geometry changes to the part’s design, estimates the cost and lead time and connects the manufacturer to a printing service bureau.
  • GelSight, Waltham, USA—develops human skin-like tactile sensing technology that provides detailed and rapid surface characterisation, enabling several surface measurement applications and robotic sensing capabilities.
  • JITbase, Montreal, Canada—builds smart manufacturing software that uses machine data and information from CNC programmes to calculate the optimal sequence of machinist activities on the shop floor. The Optimal Path System (OPS) is based on algorithms that calculate in real-time what should happen in production to maximise the availability rate of the fleet of machines.
  • Teratonics, Orsay, France—offers highly automated non-destructive testing, imaging systems and analysis services through the use of ultrashort Terahertz pulses. Users can look into every produced part to uncover internal defects and measure dimensions.
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