Scott Montgomerie, CEO and Co-Founder at Scope AR, is our Developer of the Month for January. Scope AR provides advanced augmented reality (AR) solutions like training, maintenance, remote support, evaluation, quality control, and diagnostics, for industrial clients, using our Vuforia™ platform. By overlaying visual, animation-based instructions and reference material directly on physical equipment, workers can learn procedures more effectively and perform them more accurately, while improving safety. Scope AR focuses on delivering these solutions using hands-free wearable displays, but these training and maintenance solutions can also be used with more traditional tablet devices.
Scott took some time from his busy scheduled to answer some questions for us, so you can get to know him and learn more about the work he does at Scope AR.
Can you tell us about Scope AR?
Our core belief is that to build great products, we need to solve real problems. Our focus has always been to apply new and existing technology to bring innovative solutions to industrial clients. We pride ourselves on creating world-class user experiences for our customers.
How was your company started?
A few years ago, I took a bit of time off to travel the world, and one of the stops was in Australia, where I learned to surf. As I was sitting out in the water waiting for a wave, I had an epiphany - the most successful companies identify a wave, wait for it, and ride it in. Years later, my co-founders and I started to experiment with computer vision and augmented reality, and we realized that the convergence of mobile processing power, computer vision technologies, and the ubiquitous penetration of mobile phones was creating a giant wave out in the distance. We quickly identified the opportunity to use AR for training and maintenance and focused our efforts on creating user guided training systems.
What do you love about developing mobile apps?
I love that mobile apps are ubiquitous - they have the potential to touch every aspect of our lives. Never before have we had such power - literally - in the palm of our hands. Also, by definition mobile apps are very limited in scope - this allows you to develop a new idea very quickly, and to ensure the very best user experience within that limited scope (no pun intended).
What advice would you give to other developers?
Learn. Always learn new things. Technology changes so rapidly that a good developer needs to be adaptable enough to rapidly learn the latest technologies. The developer community is constantly figuring out new ways to solve common problems, and not taking advantage of those new methods and tools is ultimately disadvantageous to developers in the long run. A great developer will always try to experiment with the latest and greatest technologies, just to know what tools are in the toolbox.
What makes your company culture unique?
At Scope AR we have made sure that everyone is part of the creative process in steering the direction of the company. Our team members work with Scope AR because they have a passion for the work they are doing, and how our augmented reality solutions will help shape the future of training and maintenance support.
Also, although our offices are located only one time zone apart, we have someone awake almost 24 hours a day. We encourage each team member to work when they work the best and this means that our “early risers” will often cross paths with our “late night workers.”
If you weren’t a developer, what profession would you have chosen?
I started my career in genetics, although everything to do with electronics and computers was my hobby. I was fascinated by the biology of genes and the fact that living organisms were coded according to a strict rule of law. It was through a chance encounter that I got a job doing basic software development and I realized that there was an opportunity to combine my two passions in a brand new program called Bioinformatics - combining genetic analysis with computing algorithms. So, I’d probably still be a developer of some form - just with a more biology flavor.
Who is your technology hero?
I’m going to go with Elon Musk on this one. I spoke of waiting for massive waves of technological change earlier, and I think no one has been as successful at identifying and riding seismic shifts in technology as he has, even across many industries. With Paypal, he identified the technology (the Internet) that was going to fundamentally shift how we exchange money, disrupting the financial services industry; With Solar City, advanced technology and manufacturing techniques have allowed him to disrupt the energy industry and be a poster-child for clean tech; Tesla’s use of advanced battery technology has allowed them to become the first auto manufacturer to IPO in half a century, while also appealing to an increasingly environment-conscious population; and SpaceX’s advanced manufacturing and materials research is set to revolutionize space exploration. With each of these companies, he was able to identify a fundamental technological advancement, and capitalize on it to revolutionize humanity and push it forward. That, to me, is absolutely amazing and a source of constant inspiration. Now if only I could get him to use Scope’s technology on his spacecraft…
What are some development tools and resources you can’t live without?
I think one of the greatest innovations for developer tools in the past decade has been mass collaboration tools like Github. Open source has always been about collaboration, but Github has literally made the barrier to entry so low, and collaboration so easy, that it has really had an impact on innovation. With so much high quality code out there, developing applications is really about focusing on a small core problem, while all the “other stuff” can be integrated fairly easily, thus improving efficiency. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel.
Another tool that I can’t live without is IntelliJ IDEA (and its derivatives) – I think it’s the world’s best IDE. I’ve been a user since 2003, and I’m super stoked that Google is finally using it as the default IDE for Android.
And then, of course, I could not forget the Vuforia SDK.
Where do you see the mobile industry in 10 years?
We are at the precipice of a giant leap in technology that will present us with new ways of harnessing the power of computers to interact with our environment. If we look at where we were 20 and even 10 years ago – we went from giant cell phones to feature phones, and there was a transition from BlackBerry keyboards and Palm Pilots to the revolutionary touch/swipe user interface that came with the introduction of the iPhone. I see an even greater leap forward with the wearable revolution, to the point where I can’t see us having physical phones anymore. Wearable displays will have the ability to give us a hands-free environment to leverage the power of mobile computing power for use cases such as what Scope AR is doing: delivering just-in-time visual information. Other devices like watches coupled with Bluetooth headsets, will allow us to stylishly “wear” our phones. Sensors and cameras from these always-on devices will provide us with tremendous amounts of actionable data to, for better or worse, analyze and affect our daily lives. If we look at the opportunity that all these innovations are providing, I think it’s never been a more exciting time to be an entrepreneur or developer in the mobile space.