Meet our CODE_n CONTEST Finalists 2016: 8tree from Germany

08/12/2016  |  CODE_n Alumni, CODE_n16 Startup CONTEST, Interview

Here we are with the next part of our CODE_n CONTEST finalists series! This time we talked to Erik Klaas, Co-founder and CTO of 8tree. Based in Germany, 8tree develops 3D surface inspection tools that solve specifically defined chronic problems. Let’s find out more about the Photonics 4.0 finalist!

8tree_LogosWhat is 8tree all about? How did you come up with the idea?

Erik: 8tree makes 3D surface inspection tools that empower users to solve specific chronic problems, with the click of a single button. Zero-learning curve product design and instantly actionable ‘go/no-go’ results empower users to improve workflow efficiency on the line, thereby breaking through traditional manufacturing bottlenecks.

The 8tree team brings more than two decades of successful product development experience from the optical metrology industry. Over the years, we noticed that traditional optical metrology tools were designed for use by highly skilled engineers. We decided to create a company focused on precision 3D optical measurement tools for the semi-skilled worker on the line. Our hypothesis was that this focus would help boost manufacturing/maintenance efficiency, by empowering the worker on the line. Rapid adoption of 8tree products across different industries continues to serve as a strong validation of our early hypothesis.

“Digital Disruption“ – that’s the motto of this year’s CODE_n CONTEST. What makes your solution innovative, what makes it disruptive?

Erik: At 8tree, we live by the words of Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief of the MIT Technology Review – “Don’t bend to technology, make technology bend to your needs”. 8tree products, although technically complex, are designed with an immense thrust on ‘usability engineering’ methods. This results in a simple, elegant and powerful user-experience – 1-button operation, zero-learning curve, instantly actionable ‘go/no-go’ answers that apply the principles of Augmented Reality. This innovative product design, allows us to empower the average line-worker with industrial-grade precision measurement performance.

8_treeDent on leading edge

Measuring of a dent on a wing’s leading edge and creating report data of that dent. (© 8tree)

You’re one of the 13 finalists in the Photonics contest cluster. Which challenges do you think young companies have to face in this sector? How do you handle these challenges?

Erik: Beyond the typical financial constraints that young companies face, some common challenges they share include establishing credibility with reference customers and standing out in a sea of other amazing Photonics technologies.

At 8tree, we focus on solving specifically-defined problems that are common to broad sectors of industry. This allows us to overcome the aforementioned challenges by delivering an answer to a problem, rather than just a novel technology.

Your products are designed for the automotive as well as the aerospace markets. Where lay the differences – in technology requirements and compliance demands?

Erik: 8tree products are designed to solve specific problems. Any market that suffers from these problems is a target for our products. Currently we cater to customers across a variety of industries, including, but not limited to – aerospace and automotive manufacturing, aviation maintenance, automotive hail-damage/collision maintenance and civil infrastructure. Although each industry sector suffers from similar problems, they all have very unique workflows that dictate their line efficiency. For every new industry that we enter, we invest significant time and resources understanding that industry’s specific workflow. This allows us to take our standard off-the-shelf platforms and tailor them to fit seamlessly into a particular industry’s workflow and drive immediate gains in inspection efficiency.

Thank you for answering our questions!