By K. R. Balasubramanyam
The current 3D technology, while very good, suffers from a simple problem: 3D files work best on powerful computers. That means your humble mobile phone, which is increasingly the first computer for millions of Indians, can't let you browse through 3D objects. But Bangalore based start-up called 3D Solid Compression (3DSoC) is out to change that. A spin-off from an Indian Institute of Science and Stanford tie-up, 3DSoC uses a patented technology (called VIS) that allows lightweight 3D representation of geometry, text, sound, animation, textures and interaction. "When we started the project, there was a dire need to exchange 3D models from one region to another from research point of view," explains Krishnan Ramaswami, who co-wrote the software with Stanford professor Fritz B. Prinz. "What we have now achieved is that we can reduce the file size of our own 3D models 1,000 times over as compared to a normal file,'' he adds.
Started off as a research project almost a decade ago, 3DSoC matured into a full-blown commercial venture in the last yearand-a-half. Besides Ramaswami and Prinz, Prof. B. Gurumoorthy, Chairman of Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing at IISc, and K.K. Venkatraman-Krishnan's classmate at IISc-are the promoters of the company. While Venkatraman is the CEO, Ramaswami is the Chief Technology Officer. In the first year of operations that ended March 31, 2008, 3DSoC posted modest revenues of $50,000, and hopes to net $1 million this year. The startup's rapid growth is explained by the fact that it has no local competitors and the market is almost virgin. "There are a few start-ups globally but none here in India. If we meet 10 customers, nine close the deal,'' says Krishnan, adding how every customer they come across is excited by the awesome range of applications their technology can provide. Bajaj Auto, Sundaram-Clayton, and Triveni Engineering are some of its clients. And while IDG Ventures is already an inventor in 3DSoC, it wouldn't be surprising if there are other VCs keen to get a piece of this heavyweight of lightweight 3D.