Gainesville tech firm Paracosm collaborated on Google's Project Tango

By Michael Stone l The Gainesville Sun

A budding Gainesville tech company was unveiled recently as one the collaborators working on Google's Project Tango, which seeks to bring 3D mapping capabilities to mobile phones.

Founded in January 2013, Paracosm is one of several partners -- including universities, researchers and private companies spanning nine countries — recruited by Google for the project.

Paracosm CEO Amir Rubin called the institutions “the best and the brightest” when it comes to 3D technology.

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Tango prototypes run on Android phones that users hold up to create a 3D view of whatever space they are in. It could be used to see what furniture works best for a room, finding a specific location beyond just a street address, and helping someone who is visually impaired walk around in a new location.

Paracosm was brought to Google's attention through a researcher that was working with both the Gainesville company and Tango.

Rubin — a 2003 University of Florida electrical and computer engineering graduate who co-founded Paracosm and another Gainesville company, Prioria Robotics — said Paracosm's work with Google began in July 2013 but that the company had to keep it a secret until Google made the project public in late February.

“We had to keep the devices in a safe box in a locked closet in our office,” he said, noting Paracosm's nondisclosure agreement with Google. “And when we had guests in the office, we never talked about it unless they were working on the project.”

Four of Paracosm's 18 full-time employees were tasked to work on Tango and made frequent trips to Google offices in California to work with the company's Advanced Technology and Projects team.

Though Tango is still in development, Paracosm's work is complete.

The technology advanced during that work is now being used in the local company's own research, Rubin said.

There doesn't appear to be a timeline for when Google will make 3D technology available for widespread public use, but the Tango website says 200 prototypes were to be distributed to developers Friday for research in possible applications, games, algorithms and more.

 

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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