Small Business

Newton couple developing virtual reality software in basement

The Wichita Eagle

A Newton couple is bringing Silicon Valley to their Kansas-based lab – better known as their basement.

Corey and Michele Janssens, founders of ViewVerge, are enhancing the way people see media through a 2D to 3D converter and a 3D to 3D enhancer for augmented and virtual reality (ARVR).

“Our goal was to basically re-create a biological version of 3D – a more natural 3D – because of ARVR,” Corey Janssens said. “We perceive in 3D, so it just seemed kind of natural: Why have a 3D device and watch 2D content?”

The couple has struggled to attract investors who want to invest outside of Silicon Valley, but said they have no plans to leave the state.

“What we’re doing is a Silicon Valley venture in Kansas,” Michele Janssens said. “I knew that would be a challenge, and it is just as big a challenge as we thought it would be.

“But there are good things happening in Kansas. And everyone tells us there is a push right now to venture more into tech and bring jobs and money to the Wichita area.”

While the Jansssenses have sought and attracted mentors nationwide in 3D technology, marketing and branding, they said success will occur when they have licensing and investors to help make ViewVerge technology readily available through mobile applications, or for 2D to 3D conversion in the medical and military fields.

Corey Janssens, a former Army unmanned aerial vehicle pilot and self-taught theoretical physicist and engineer, and Michele Janssens, a speech therapist, have what they call a marriage of science and communication.

“An interesting fact that is a very integral part of who we are as a couple and hopefully as a vital company: Corey is autistic, I am a speech therapist, and we’re married,” Michele Janssens said. “He is passionate about building things and physics and the science, and I am passionate about communication.

“It’s really kind of a unique marriage.”

Corey Janssens said he has had many jobs in his life that led him to developing this software.

It was when he spent five years as part of and then leading a confidential Microsoft think-tank that Bill Gates called him a modern-day Isaac Newton, according to a ViewVerge media release.

“That interaction and exposure led him to apply to get one of the first rounds of developer HoloLens they released,” Michele Janssens said. “We waited about 10 years to do something like this.”

The couple received their Microsoft Hololens – the first self-contained holographic computer – in May 2016.

“When we got that Hololens, he knew this was it,” Michele Janssens said.

It took just three to four months for Corey Janssens to develop the foundation for the software, and after continual improvements they think they have the answer to natural, human-like 3D media.

“I don’t believe you’re going to have much 2D media in the future,” he said. “It just makes more sense to have graphics that are put in the format of the way we naturally see things.

“If you build a system that is converting 2D to 3D, in a sense that is what the human brain does. We don’t actually see 3D, you infer distance from having two eyes.

“So by mimicking the biological system well enough with some added algorithms, you have an early computer vision system that is much more human.”

The 3D software currently available has been gimmicky, Michele Janssens said, and that is not their goal.

“When (people) hear 3D, they think stuff popping out in the face, and that’s not actually what 3D is,” Michelle Janssens said.

“Our goals are to make it natural and comfortable, just like when you’re looking around.”

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-628-6213, @KaitlynAlanis