PTC Makes 3rd Augmented Reality Acquisition As AR Revenue Reaches $20M


PTC has made its third acquisition in the augmented reality space to provide an interactive, real-time training environment for industrial settings.

The Needham, Mass.-based industrial software company announced its acquisition of Waypoint Labs, a startup born out of MIT in 2016 that allows trainers to build a three-dimensional set of instructions for workers in real-time using an AR headset such as the Microsoft HoloLens.

"It's a brand new way to author work instructions," PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann (pictured) said during his keynote at the company's LiveWorx conference Monday. "It's software that enables humans to easily get from how a process is actually performed when it's performed and then convert that back into instructions for everyone else to use later."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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PTC's acquisition of Waypoint comes after the company acquired the Reality Editor software, another technology born out of MIT, in November 2017 and Vuforia, which became the basis for PTC's AR capabilities within the company's ThingWorx IoT platform, in November 2015. All of the company's AR products are now under the Vuforia brand, another development that was announced Monday.

In a Q&A session Monday afternoon, Heppelmann revealed that PTC's AR business represents about $20 million in revenue with a 100 percent growth rate. He said Vuforia Engine, the core technology PTC had acquired from Qualcomm, now represents a minority of the AR business while PTC's enterprise solutions, like Vuforia Studio and View, bring in the most sales.

"I'm very pleased with the AR business. It's early, but I wouldn't trade places with anybody. Not for anything," he said.

During Heppelmann's keynote, a demonstrator used Waypoint to create a set of instructions for starting a lab procedure by using a series of hand gestures and voice commands with an AR headset. Using Waypoint's knowledge processing engine, the software converted the gestures and commands into a series of interactive text and images that were superimposed over the view of a second demonstrator with a headset.

The company said Waypoint supports a range of industrial use cases. That includes manufacturers that can use Waypoint to create and distribute service manuals and product documentation.

Jordan Reynolds, a senior manager at Kalypso, a Cleveland-based PTC partner, told CRN that his firm has already gone to production with AR solutions for a number of different companies, though he said most firms are still stuck in the proof-of-concept stage.

"Everybody is investing in pilots. Few people have brought those pilots into production implementations that are ready for scale. Very few," Reynolds said.

He commended PTC for the direction it has taken in adding more IoT and AR capabilities, giving the company a unique position in the industrial technology space.

"What they did really well and very uniquely is they started with product development capabilities and that laid the foundation for smart connected product capabilities that involved IoT," Reynolds said