Ask Vern Shurtz what he does for a living and he’ll say something like “We do augmented and virtual reality.”
But the work of Shurtz and John Berryman of Stratus Technology Group in Salisbury is much more interesting and involved than that.
Stratus has found customers in the medical, architecture and energy fields and in other industries using augmented reality to help potential customers visualize what Stratus’ customers can do to help them.
“We use immersive technology to teach and explain,” Shurtz says.
Again, the real augmented reality stuff is more interesting than that sentence makes it sound.
Siemens Wind Energy uses Stratus to help explain the benefits of wind turbines. The Research Triangle Institute hired Stratus to create some virtual reality demonstrations on what the agency has done for the Raleigh area.
Now Stratus has teamed up with the McColl Center for Art + Innovation to create what Rick Hudson, CEO of Xoonix, calls “a fusion of art and technology, in this case, painting augmented reality.”
Viewers see an exploded view — almost as if you are viewing the painting of the art in progress — of artist Ivan Toth Depena at the McColl Center. Shurtz worked with Depena to show the elements of the paintings and created overlays to give the two-dimensional paintings a 3D view.
On Tuesday, Shurtz conducts a demonstration at the McColl Center to show how Stratus uses augmented reality to understand art. That presentation is held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the center.
In architecture and other applications, Shurtz uses photos taken from a drone to capture hundreds of views of a structure. It’s a process called photogrammetry, which overlaps the photos to create a 3D effect.
“It’s almost like flying through a point in space,” Shurtz says.
In the medical world, that process creates what sounds like a fly-through of a patient’s body. Using MRI and CAT scans, Stratus creates a 3D view of a tumor, for example. That information helps surgeons determine the best approach to operating on that patient, Shurtz says.
“This is a leap in computing and imagization and working with data,” Shurtz says.
Right now Stratus is a one-person operation in the Salisbury Business Center with the backing of Berryman.
Despite the size of the company, Stratus has attracted the attention of NASA. Shurtz is doing what he calls a “proof of concept” at the space agency’s Langley Research Center in Virginia.
Shurtz says augmented reality and virtual reality will soon display advertisements to individuals specifically designed for their interests and spending habits. The movie Minority Report shows how virtual reality may play out in our future.
In the workplace, machines could display holographic instructions on operations and maintenance to workers as they go about making widgets, he says.
“Augmented reality is going to integrate into every aspect of our daily lives within the next five years,” Shurtz says.