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An Augmented World

In a world focusing on extended reality, Hyderabad-based Merxius is making a name for itself with its innovative products and services. 

Previously seen as merely gaming or entertainment technology, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are increasingly being used to better serve people’s day-to-day needs. 

Owing to this growing popularity, many innovative companies are capitalizing on this opportunity. One such company is Merxius. With offices in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, the start-up has been building extended reality (XR)—augmented, virtual and mixed reality—products and solutions for clients from different sectors like defense, marketing and real estate. Their products include RED, which creates extended reality experiences from 3D data, and TranslatAR, which translates printed English text into regional languages like Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada or Tamil and augments that over print text. In 2015, Merxius became the first Indian company to be invited to exhibit at the Augmented World Expo (AWE), one of the world’s largest conferences and expos dedicated to augmented and virtual reality, in Silicon Valley, California. 

Merxius was co-founded by Vaishali Neotia, who currently serves as the chief executive officer. She is an alumna of Stanford Graduate School of Business in California and Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. In 2015, Neotia participated in the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, a four-week-long program that connects emerging women leaders from around the world with members of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Leaders. 

Neotia was one of the finalists at the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Catalyst pitch competition at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, held in Hyderabad in November. At the competition, which included start-ups from India, the United States and other countries, Neotia had the opportunity to showcase Merxius’ work and pitch to investors and potential partners. 

Excerpts from an interview.

What led you to experiment with augmented and virtual reality? 

We formed Merxius as a company to help harness the power of technology; contextually, to simplify lives and help people achieve their goals faster and easier. AR and VR were being dismissed as entertainment and gaming tech, whereas we saw their potential for focused-use cases across sectors. 

Could you tell us about Merxius’ current suite of products, including RED?

Understanding technology isn’t enough. How technology can help people achieve their goals easier and faster is much more important. If you create and give value, you get value in return.

We have used our expertise in extended reality technologies to serve the needs of clients across sectors like real estate, defense, engineering and retail marketing. We have also built a simple everyday AR app called TranslatAR, with which people can convert signboards in English to regional languages. We have a great platform where videos or animations can be mapped to appear over predefined images in a matter of minutes, like an advanced QR [Quick Response] code system.

With RED, we are trying to democratize access to these technologies for non-coders. RED is an authoring software that allows people working with 3D data, like doctors, engineers and designers, to be able to enhance engagement and efficiency, while reducing the time and cost associated with visualizing, and extracting more from their work.

How has computing evolved in recent years? Which Merxius product excites you the most?

Computing has evolved like any other technology to reduce the number of steps involved to get something done. We no longer want data through additional effort. Information should be relevant and available at our fingertips. 

Our favorite application of everyday immersive technologies is TranslatAR. This will be available soon to download on your phones.

What were your biggest takeaways from your experience with the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership that you found most useful in running your own start-up? 

Meeting and befriending the 18 amazing women leaders from around the world who were chosen for this program was incredible. The diversity and commonalities of our life experiences was mind-blowing. Experiencing life in a developed economy and understanding everyday perspectives of people living and working in one was eye-opening.

One thing that really stayed with me was a quote my mentor Dina Powell, philanthropist and U.S. policy maker, told me she lives by: “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.”

What takeaways did you have from your experience of being a part of the first Indian company invited to exhibit at the Augmented World Expo in Silicon Valley?

We are constantly listening to customers to identify use cases for XR tech, to help solve expensive problems. Being the first-ever Indian company to exhibit at AWE gave us not only immense exposure, but also access to the market, which have helped us understand the cutting-edge developments in the field. We also realized where all the action is and are trying to replicate that kind of cutting-edge technology in India. 

We’re always looking for ways to use advanced technology to help improve processes to increase the top line and lower the bottom line. Technology can be exciting, but it needs to be harnessed for real world applications to truly have an impact on our lives.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs interested in augmented and virtual reality technology? 

Understanding technology isn’t enough. How technology can help people achieve their goals easier and faster is much more important. If you create and give value, you get value in return.

Jason Chiang is a freelance writer based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.