Burlington tech company makes mapping the world easier

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – A Burlington internet tech startup is making 3D mapping easier, hoping to give clients a better view of the world that we live in.

“Geopipe is building the authoritative digital twin of our Earth,” said the company’s Christopher Mitchell.

Typically, to get a copy of the real world digitally, you’d have to create it by hand, tracing a building and stitching it together. Mitchell and Geopipe co-creator Thomas Dickerson are working on software that automatically does it for you.

“There is a missing layer of data describing the world underneath today’s industry,” Mitchell said.

Developing a copy of the real world needs real-world application and they have found that, too.

“There are a huge variety of applications that are unlocked with this commoditization of real-time rendering,” Dickerson said.

In simple terms, everyone from architects and civil engineers to video game designers can find a use for Geopipe.

“They can actually use those for early stages of their planning process and it would save them dozens of hours as opposed to doing those things by hand,” said Dickerson.

But applications can be fun too.

“Right now where most of our attention is with those that are using real-time game engine technology,” said Dickerson.

That is in the video game realm, as well as what he calls serious games like training simulations. An example would be training a firefighter to navigate the neighborhood without having to take an actual truck out. Or running a self-driving car through a city with no real hazards.

“You have these environments available — basically in virtual reality — and you get the same experience without the huge logistical overhead,” said Dickerson.

They say getting the data to virtually copy the whole Earth isn’t easy and that they continue to perfect their software.

“The possibilities that are unlocked when you have a rich virtual twin of the earth are boundless,” said Mitchell.

He says as they continue to perfect the software, they expect more roadblocks just as any company would.

As more tech companies pop up in Vermont, we wanted to know what makes this state appealing to young businesses. Dickerson and Mitchell say despite broadband limitations, there is a lot of untapped potential. Local colleges are providing young and educated talent to join teams and there is coworking space available.

Geopipe has employees in Burlington, Syracuse and New York City who are embracing the idea of remote working. Besides convenience, Dickerson says it’s also just the allure of the Green Mountains.

“That’s part of the joy of starting your own company. You set the rules, you set the terms of engagement, you decide where your office is going to be. And I think there are a lot of people that would rather have that sort of quieter, more space, sort of more friendly community that Vermont has to offer, while also tapping into the local talent,” said Dickerson.

Geopipe says the state still isn’t close to what a Silicone Valley or New York City is, but it does have its own draw.

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