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article imageChatting with Erik Maltais: CEO and co-founder of Immertec Special

By Markos Papadatos     Feb 1, 2021 in Technology
Erik Maltais, the CEO and co-founder of Immertec, chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos. It is a real-time virtual observation platform for remote, fully-immersive surgical and medical training.
How does Technology-as-a-Service (TaaS) impact major industries like medicine? And how did Immertec come into play?
Studies demonstrate that medical information doubles every 74 days yet the way we pass this knowledge on to surgeons has not changed in hundreds of years. This is where the term “operating room theater” was coined. Essentially requiring surgeons to travel to another OR to observe and learn from a surgeon who specializes in the innovative procedure they seek to learn.
We knew VR could bridge this gap and increase access to extraordinary learning opportunities, but we also knew that we couldn’t expect our customer to focus on the different VR headsets, 3D cameras, and everything it takes to deploy these technologies.
Nor should they, we want them to focus on saving lives so we decided to offer an end-to-end solution for our customers. TaaS decreases the technological barriers by providing a complete service from scheduling the event to the ultimate execution of the event allowing them to stay focused on their mission.
Beyond medicine, what use cases may exist for this type of technology, whether we are talking VR or even 3D VR-tech? Any plans to ever market this at major conferences like CES, or Gaming Show out in Vegas?
VR/AR is the next computing medium for sure, but like the progression of computers, the internet and cell phones the maturation of this industry will take time. We of course see so much opportunity in other areas like engineering, military and aerospace; however, we are hyper-focused on increasing surgeons' access to innovative procedures.
You have traveled the world. How could Immertec’s software/hardware be applied to study abroad programs?
It would be hard to suggest VR could replace world travel, but I do see a future where people could experience other cultures and places around the world before ever setting foot in person.
Do you see your tech ever-expanding to the music industry, let’s say for music lessons/tutorials/how-to’s, or even concerts? Do you have any plans for ever-extending it out?
Focus is everything in founding a startup. As humans, we tend to overestimate what is possible in one year while vastly underestimating what's possible in 5 or 10 years. I absolutely see a day where people will attend a sold-out concert in VR, but I think that time is years from now.
There are still many limitations in the hardware (VR headsets resolution in specific) which limits the current audience potential. I'm certain that one day VR will be indistinguishable from real life, however, that future is still a ways out.
What’s the most challenging part about this type of technology and service you offer? How does COVID-19 play into this, if at all?
I would have never imagined what an extraordinary effect the pandemic would have on our startup. The main purpose of a startup is to solve problems that most are not aware exist and then to create that awareness by enrolling as many people as possible in your vision.
This is exactly what we were up to in 2020 until one day the COVID19 pandemic unfolded and immediately every potential customer or user of our technology became instantly aware that training in person was no longer possible and that they needed to consider technology.
We proceed to sign master service agreements with the largest healthcare organizations in the world in less than 3 months. Subsequently, we immediately need to expand our team from 20 to just shy of 60 to meet this demand. Quite the test of courage, strength, and commitment.
What’s the biggest advantage of using this type of tech?
100 percent user attention. The cost of attention is higher than ever before. VR training guarantees one's audience is fully present and focused. Noone is scrolling their social, texting, or holding side conversations. This will prove extraordinarily beneficial to many adopters of VR.
The immersive experience allows users to participate in surgeries from the best vantage point. They can focus on the scrub tech and instrument placement or on the surgeon's manipulation of the endoscope. Any specific person or area from the operatory suite is available to the viewer.
Each user's experience is unique. Essentially 20 surgeons participants can learn a unique device with each focused on a different area of the room without interrupting either experience. No more the familiar Zoom or Teams meetings where everyone is forced to watch the same 15-degree angle.
To learn more about Immertec, check out its official website.
Erik Maltais  CEO of Immertec
Erik Maltais, CEO of Immertec
Immertec
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