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BC Business Magazine - - Front Page - —N.R.

A part from the gleam­ing trac­tor unit in the mid­dle of the room, the Holodeck looks like a big empty ware­house. Have I come to the right place? I slip on a pair of Mi­crosoft Hololens glasses, tight­en­ing the band against the back of my skull. Turn­ing to the truck, I see that it has a new holo­graphic hood; by reach­ing out and pinch- ing a menu hov­er­ing in front of me, I can choose from sev­eral other styles. Be­side the ve­hi­cle is a 3D scale model with a trailer at­tached; shoot­ing along its body and that of the real truck are green trails that I later learn rep­re­sent air­flow.

When I change glasses and walk to­ward a nearby wall, the blank space be­comes a kitchen show­room where I can switch ap­pli­ances, door han­dles—even counter height. Af­ter putting on a third pair, I'm taken to a square of light float­ing on the floor. “Build,” I com­mand, and a high­rise springs up. “Zoom in”: now I'm stand­ing in the lobby.

The 25,000-square-foot Holodeck, which opened late last year on a quiet street in Port Co­quit­lam, is the

new­est ad­di­tion to Fin­ger Food Stu­dios Inc. The com­pany aims high: to change the way in­dus­try works. Fin­ger Food, founded in 2009 by chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Trent Shu­may, started off in video games and app de­sign. In 2016, af­ter work­ing for Mi­crosoft Corp., it be­came the first Cana­dian agency part­ner for the Hololens pro­gram, which is cre­at­ing new ap­pli­ca­tions for so-called mixed re­al­ity. The 120-em­ployee com­pany's clients in­clude U.S. giants such as truck­maker Pac­car Inc. and home im­prove­ment chain Lowe's Cos. Inc.

For much of the 2000s, CEO Ryan Peter­son worked in Sil­i­con Val­ley, where he says the suc­cess of Ap­ple and Face­book showed him the im­por­tance of be­ing first to es­tab­lish your­self. Peter­son also no­ticed that no­body was go­ing af­ter the ser­vices mar­ket. “In the Gold Rush, the peo­ple that ac­tu­ally made money were the peo­ple who sold ser­vices—sold the picks and shov­els,” he says.

When Peter­son joined Fin­ger Food in 2011, he and Shu­may set out to tackle that mar­ket by in­te­grat­ing new tech­nol­ogy into busi­nesses. As he points out, mass man­u­fac­tur­ing still has rem­nants of the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion em­bed­ded in its work­flow. Take au­to­mo­bile de­sign: in the 1920s, Gen­eral Mo­tors Co. be­gan draft­ing 3D mod­els on pa­per and build­ing clay repli­cas. Noth­ing changed un­til the 1980s, when car­mak­ers started us­ing Au­tocad—but they kept the clay model. “That process didn't change un­til last year, when this com­pany called Fin­ger Food and our part­ner Pac­car went from AU­TOCAD to a full holo­gram,” Peter­son says.

Fin­ger Food has short­ened the time it takes to build a model from six months to three days, he adds: “We get the data from AU­TOCAD, and then we mas­sage it and we can put it into a mixed-re­al­ity scene.” For car­mak­ers, the other ben­e­fit is be­ing able to cre­ate many different ver­sions of the same model. “We save prob­a­bly about 10 per cent of the time on the de­vel­op­ment of a new ve­hi­cle,” Peter­son says of Pac­car. “Sav­ing 10 per cent in an ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing process that's been go­ing on for al­most 100 years is trans­for­ma­tional for a busi­ness like that.” Fin­ger Food is cre­at­ing a new busi­ness, says Edoardo De Martin, di­rec­tor of Mi­crosoft Van­cou­ver. “They're on the lead­ing front of mixed-world com­put­ing.”

As the tech­nol­ogy be­comes cheaper, small andmedium-sized com­pa­nies will adopt it, Peter­son pre­dicts. He cites in­fra­struc­ture—want to know what the Site C dam will look like at scale?—as one of many other in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions. “One of our big in­no­va­tions is we fo­cus on holo­grams from 15 feet to in­fin­ity,” Peter­son says. “Any­thing large-scale, that's where we see an in­cred­i­ble ROI, and you can trans­form busi­ness pro­cesses.”

NEW VI­SION Ryan Peter­son sports Mi­crosoft Hololens glasses, for which his com­pany cre­ates ap­pli­ca­tions

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