Grown in three short years from a few friends working part-time out of a ramada in Papago Park to the largest company of its kind in North American, with 60-plus employees, Eco3d provides a digital model of the physical world — from topographical to structural, mechanical and architectural conditions — for a wide range of clients.
The technology that enables this service is Lidar, a surveying method that uses laser light to detect objects and range for digital measurement. “It’s the fastest-known measuring technology on earth,” says Ken Smerz, Eco3d’s president and CEO, adding it provides an accuracy that was previously unattainable.
Having a digital model is a benefit to those who work with anything that needs to be measured in applied value — such as architects, engineers and contractors — whether it’s large square-footage or multiple locations, and includes forensic work, providing dimensional data that can be analyzed. For instance, Smerz offers, Starbucks is always updating its assets all across the country. The company also works with owners who see the value of having a 3-D model of their property to replace 2-D blueprints, giving them greater value in analyzing the daily operation, Smerz notes.
Lidar’s laser-scanning capability also helps save on labor and material expenses by enabling faster results. Smerz relates that his company did a laser scan of Sky Harbor’s Terminal 3 in just two weeks.
While the company also creates 2-D plans for clients, Smerz is most eager to talk about the company’s work in 3-D. In fact, while technology has enabled the digitizing of the physical environment, Smerz attributes his company’s explosive growth to the expectations of the millennial generation — and 3-D gaming in particular. “We live in a 3-D world, but we’ve been drawing like cavemen forever,” he observes.
Smerz also credits the team of people who make up Eco3d, which includes 3-D gamers as well as architects, engineers, surveyors and contractors. And there’s diversity beyond the fields they represent; Smerz says that, while the company does hire local talent, the team currently represents 11 different countries that include Russia, Iran and Mexico. “They seek us out; they’re the type of people who will travel for an opportunity,” he says. “We look for raw talent, then we train them up.”
Smerz is eager to let people see what Eco3D does, offering tours even to competitors. A believer in the philosophy “A high tide floats all boats,” Smerz feels there is tremendous room for growth, with only about six percent market penetration at this time. “What we do in measuring our existing physical world will lead to greater use of virtual and augmented reality. It’s the infrastructure for those technologies to further grow.”