3D scanning has become commonplace—just one example is when potential home buyers tour a property virtually before deciding to see it in person. 3D scans also play a critical role in training firefighters, EMTs, and military personnel in real-world scenarios, helping familiarize them with spaces before entering.
When the Marines needed a solution to training new personnel using interior maps of buildings that contained life-saving information, Keyhorse-backed founder Bill Gregory saw an opportunity to create a software solution to do so and called it RSET (Rapid Synthetic Environment Tool).
We asked Bill a few questions about his journey, inspirations, and predictions for the future of 3D scanning and its applications.
How did you become interested in 3D scanning?
BG: I became interested in 3D scanning while employed by the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments (Vis Center) at the University of Kentucky from 2006-2018. While there, I printed 3D Models from CT data, scanned artifacts using a Micro-CT scanner, and conducted research utilizing structured light scanners. We also designed and built a large vehicle-mounted Lidar scanner for scanning highways. With previous experience in 3D modeling and cad, this new experience of scanning real-world items and bringing them into the computer was fascinating to me. I began to see the value in what is now known as the “Digital Twin.”
3D scans will be the primary method of training, education, and modeling in the future.
What inspired you to found a company, and how did you meet your team?
BG: I established Enomalies, LLC in 2007 but remained working full-time at the Vis Center. Michael Schmidt was a student intern that I supervised at the Vis Center at the time. Michael was an excellent intern/friend, so I hired him to help with Enomalies projects outside our duties at the Vis Center. Under Enomalies, we designed and built museum exhibits, physical models for court cases, and SCRIBE (self-contained rapidly integrated background environment) projection screens. These screens were used as backdrops for over fifty theatrical performances over the course of several years. We also began scanning unusual environments such as caves and underwater. After earning his Masters degree, Michael resigned from the Vis Center to become a software engineer for Lexmark but continued to work for Enomalies as well. In December 2017, Michael resigned from Lexmark, becoming a full partner in Enomalies.
I reduced my hours at the University to part-time in 2014 when Enomalies received Phase I SBIR grant funding from the Office of Naval Research. The Marines needed a solution to a common problem. They would clear a building and then return to clear the same building again a few years later. Usually, the second team was completely new, with no previous members from the first team. If they had a map of the interior of the building, it could be life-saving information for the soldiers completing the operation.
Enomalies first started building a camera system to scan interiors, but as time passed, we noticed other scanners coming onto the market. Instead of competing with these scanners, we decided to create a software solution that could be used with the output of any scanner, even an iPhone. This software solution was RSET (Rapid Synthetic Environment Tool). The Navy approved and awarded us Phase II funding, followed by a contract for development and deployment.
During Phase II, I resigned from the University to work full-time on the RSET project. I also hired Yongwook Song, a PhD student at the University of Kentucky, as a part-time network developer. He had worked with both Michael and me on a variety of projects at the University.
Enomalies was also awarded state matching grants for both Phase I and Phase II. Just before the pandemic, we started investigating other markets for our platform. We discussed launching a pilot program with the Lexington Fire Department. However, the pandemic halted several opportunities to scan. We continued development and hired the fourth member of our team, Michael Probst, a computer science student at the University of Kentucky.
As business returned to normal following the pandemic, we renewed our effort to push the platform into other markets. I attended Launch Blue Accelerator classes and determined we were ready to expand. We formed RSET Inc. and absorbed Enomalies, LLC. We started working with various first responders and testing the software for use in theatrical set design and litigation modeling. Once incorporated, we brought on Larry Danna as Chief Business Officer and the fifth member of our team.
Where do you see 3D scanning and its applications headed in the future?
BG: The global digital twin market size is estimated to reach ~USD $100 Billion by the end of 2035. New scanning solutions are being created every day. I believe with the accessibility of scanning modes and the lowering cost of hardware, 3D scans will become commonplace. Even now, you can make a model of your home with an iPhone. 3D scans will be the primary method of training, education, and modeling in the future.
What does success look like to RSET in the short term and long term?
BG: Short-term success for RSET would be to close our seed round and increase our market penetration. We have a great MVP with a well-defined beachhead but need more exposure in the market. Long-term success would be to have a major impact on infantry and first responder training throughout the US and eventually be acquired by one of our channel partners.