Augmented-reality software startup Apprentice (Jersey City), cofounded in 2014 by Angelo Stracquatanio, Gary Pignata and Alexandra Buttke, recently raised $2.5 million from Silverton Partners (Austin, Texas) and Hemi Ventures (Palo Alto).
Initially designed for biopharma corporations, the Apprentice software platform and software suite have applications in other industries as well, the company said.
According to Silverton Partners' website, the Apprentice software provides “an industrial augmented reality platform that transports R&D and manufacturing operators, scientists and engineers to an enhanced reality in which they become controllers of their work environments.”
Apprentice has started selling its software, and is now expanding its client base and further developing its software with this new injection of cash.
“We were so inspired by Apprentice’s passion for utilizing the latest technology to provide new insights into the human process,” said Mike Dodd, general partner at Silverton Partners and incoming Apprentice board member.
The augmented reality (AR) software platform provided by Apprentice aids production and repairs by providing instantaneous access to information, which decreases human errors. The information is stored and presented in digital format; and it is provided via the Internet as the means of communication, which facilitates long-distance collaboration.
Smart glasses are a necessary hardware component of Apprentice, and there are three software components: Tandem, Manuals and BioCapture.
Tandem allows on-site technicians to look at the machines they need to repair and to talk to off-site technicians who can assist them—not just through a phone call, but by actually seeing what the on-site technician is seeing. Technicians can look at the machines being repaired and access the manuals through smart glasses (Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens, Epson Moverio and others).
Manuals allows technicians to use smart glasses to access manuals, instructions on procedures, schematics and other reference materials while repairing equipment or engaged in other work activities. Schematics and pictures overlay real-world objects, enabling easy comparisons of the status of an object with its desired state.
BioCapture records whatever data a laboratory or repair technician can see, in both analog and digital format, such as handwritten notes, UPC codes, QR Codes, voice notes, labels, gauge readings and even sample sizes. This software reduces or prevents research and production errors by helping technicians conform to procedure, according to Apprentice. Deviations in a process can be quickly recognized. The company also says that the software helps clients gain insight into the human component of processes.
While many feel that AI and computers are replacing people by doing the tasks that they perform, Apprentice is actually enhancing workers' ability to do their jobs, rather than replacing those workers, said Stracquatanio, who is the CEO. “We augment human ability.”
Apprentice has 20 employees working in New Jersey.