CPrecisely, a new tech startup out of Purdue University, has created a technology that provides an alternative and supplemental solution to vision correction for viewing and reading digital content.
The company was co-founded by CEO Daniel Aliaga, an associate professor in Purdue’s Department of Computer Science, as well as Chris May, chief technology officer, and Ignacio Garcia-Dorado, chief science officer. Below, Aliaga talks about current and future plans for CPrecisely.
Q: CPrecisely is developing technology that will help people see digital content on tablets, smartphones and computers without the need for glasses or contacts. In layman’s terms, can you describe how this technology works?
A: Sure! CPrecisely offers a corrective imaging software solution to provide sharp visible content to the public, improving upon, simplifying or replacing corrective eyewear. Our approach creates images that look strange to an observer with normal vision, but which exploit the way the uncorrected eye incorrectly focuses light rays so the images look normal to a person needing corrective eyewear.
Viewing corrective images can provide convenience, avoid the need for bifocals, compensate for improper eyewear and omit the need for prescription reading glasses. Moreover, our solution runs on existing tablets, laptops and smartphones.
Q: Can you give us a little background on how you and your co-founders became interested in this line of research and how long you have been working on developing the technology?
A: CPrecisely started as a concept five years ago. I obtained a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in 2009 to embed information into the physical surfaces of a 3D printed object. This eventually led to the idea of embedding information into an observed image.
Between 2012 and 2014, several of my students and I worked on early prototypes. In particular, in 2013 Ignacio Garcia-Dorado and I came across some revolutionary new ideas that were able to obtain comparable results to those provided by custom hardware displays, but without requiring any specialized hardware. The methodology can be implemented fully in software and for any visual content. Thus, in April 2014 we incorporated CPrecisely to commercialize this exciting new technology.
Q: What is the potential market for your products, both in the United States and throughout the rest of the world?
A: Our initial target market will be the subset of the U.S. population at the intersection of needing vision correction (248 million people), using tablets or smartphones (180 million people) and reading electronic books (98 million people). This amounts to about 69 million people.
The global yearly e-book market is now about $4.5 billion and growing. The vision correction market is about $35 billion in the U.S. and $150 billion worldwide. We plan on offering an alternative vision correction solution for reading that by only tapping into a small part of this huge market is already a great success.
Q: Do you have any competitors in the market? If so, what sets you apart?
A: We will enter the market as both a substitute and a complement to eyeglasses, contacts and laser eye surgery for use during electronic book reading. Our solution is unique and patent-protected, thus we do not have a direct competitor. Our main differentiation is that our approach is low-cost, painless and comfortable.
Q: Where are you currently in the development process? What will be your first commercial product?
A: We will introduce an electronic book reading app that will also use our unique technology. After the initial release, we will look for partnerships with larger e-book distributors and incorporate our technology into popular existing e-reading applications. In the long term, we plan to extend our platform technology to smart-watches, video and games.
To date, we have incorporated, filed a patent under the Purdue University commercialization umbrella, negotiated an exclusive license of the technology, developed a working prototype and are entering the beta-testing phase.
Q: Where do you stand on funding today and what are your plans for raising capital over the next 12 months?
A: We are internally funded at the moment by the co-founders, though we are actively seeking capital, as grants or investments, to catapult our product development.
Q: What is the timeline and strategy for getting your first product – and any additional products – out to consumers? Have you begun developing a marketing strategy?
A: To generate widespread awareness, we will first introduce a freemium alarm clock app using our imaging technology. The intention is to provide a “try for free” option with this app, which will be later linked to ReadPrecisely. Both will be distributed via the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
In addition, we will participate at a selection of major technology-related conferences typically covered by the technology media. In parallel with our product releases and event presence, we will generate a series of press releases through Purdue Research Foundation’s media team to leverage this activity and to attract attention from major technology forums such as GizModo, TechCrunch, Tech Spot and GeekZone.