ICYMI: Spacee Stacy the Virtual Bartender Serves Drinks—and Flirts; DFW, Neoface Facial Recognition Deploys; and Gemmy’s Bass Lip-Syncs Alexa

From tech bytes (AveoMedical, StackPath, WayAround) to coworking moves (Venture X, Serendipity Labs) to what we're reading, here's your briefing on ideas and innovation in North Texas.

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Dallas Innovates’ weekly mix of business, culture, and technology in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

She’ll pour you your favorite cocktail just how you like it. She’ll converse with you. She’ll guide you through your order. And hey, she’ll even flirt a little. Things are going great—until she tells you she’s dating an iPad.

She’s Spacee Stacy: The ‘bartender’ of your dreams that technically isn’t a ‘she’ at all.

Stacy’s a virtual hologram.

Created by Spacee to tend to the drinks at the recent grand opening of luxury men’s fashion brand adam aleksander, Stacy uses AR and voice control technology to interact with thirsty patrons.

[Photo: Courtesy Spacee]

Spacee, a Dallas company that specializes in making real-world physical things digitally interactive through Deviceless Mixed Reality, is all about creating a future where technology naturally fits into the human experience. 

Spacee CEO and founder Skip Howard and adam aleksander co-founder Hunter Bywaters knew each other from way back, Howard says. Both went to Parish Episcopal School—although back then, Hunter knew Skip Howard as ‘Skipper,’ and there probably wasn’t much AR talk happening on the playground. Thanks to Facebook, the two reconnected a few years ago.

Adam aleksander, which recently launched its fashionable flagship location at The Frisco Star, is all about highlighting what it means to be a gentleman. Using upscale craftsmanship and techniques, adam aleksander’s international artisans construct dresswear, smart-casual fashion, shoes, and accessories of high quality fit and style.

Bywaters wanted to figure out how he could work with his old childhood friend. In turn, Howard was inspired by the adam aleksander message, so although Spacee’s typical client isn’t startups, the two companies struck a one-time deal intended to spread the word about their capabilities. 

Deployed on the exterior of the store, Spacee digitized adam aleksander’s other founder, Bashar Radwan Alhuneidi. Dubbed ‘front window virtual Bashar,’ the holographic-like image—which works best at night—is a flat display that passersby can interact with. Radwan Alhuneidi says people did a double take when they saw him next to his digital double.

Bashar Radwan Alhuneidi greets all guests—but as his hologram. [Photo: Courtesy Spacee]

[Photo: Courtesy Spacee]

“We wanted people to go into the store and have a lot of these ‘wow’ moments to compliment what we offer,” Radwan Alhuneidi says. “To me, excitement is a big part of what we wanted to capture. We didn’t want it to be like a typical fashion theme. We wanted people to feel like there was something extra that was happening here—we’re greeting you beyond hours of operation, we’re interacting with you, we’re engaging you beyond four walls.”

Step inside to find Stacy, a holographic bartender modeled after Bywaters’ wife that customers can talk to. Don’t get too attached though, because Howard says Spacee’s bread and butter is virtual touch, not voice interactivity. Instead of moving forward with commercialization, Stacy serves as a purely fun experience that nobody in the world has.

Stacy conversed with patrons at the Grand Opening of adam aleksander. [Photo: Courtesy Spacee]

“We really are, now, in an experience-based economy,” Howard says. “People pay premiums for niche experiences that you just cannot duplicate, and that’s what we try to augment.”

Spacee uses various innovative technologies to transform 2D or 3D surfaces into interactive touch screens—using light, only. All solutions are designed to deliver a personal connection, and no phones, helmets, eyeglasses, or tablets are required for use.

“We’re turning plastic, concrete, and glass into touch screens and products,” Howard explains.

Take Spacee’s partnership with Men’s Warehouse, for example. In the flagship store in New York on Madison Avenue, Spacee created a deployment that turned made a table interactive for customers.

“Funny story about that: It was so popular, the city called the landlord to have the glass removed because it was causing traffic jams on the sidewalk,” Howard says.

Spacee has come a long way from when we first talked about its new AR creations back in 2016. Recently, we told you about Spacee’s experience that allowed people to touch the hood of a car and see the inner workings.

Right now, the team is working on solutions like making shoe shopping interactive, so when you’d pick up a Nike shoe, you’d receive digital responses of background information and tailored ads. Stay tuned for projects to be announced in 2019.

Southwest adds AR to its app

Keeping with the augmented reality theme, Dallas’ Southwest Airlines is rolling out an AR “Bag Sizer” feature for its mobile app that lets travelers scan their carry on bags at home to ensure they meet regulation dimensions. The tool was described as the “most effective virtual screener I’ve tested yet – this one had no issue picking up on the suitcase’s accurate size, and with relative speed, too” in a The Points Guy review.

Facial recognition makes its way around North Texas

Facial recognition technology continues its push into more areas of our lives. Its uses span from law enforcement to identifying quick service restaurant loyalty club members to unlocking mobile devices. Facebook is one of the tech giants that has spent a great deal of AI R&D on the tech to automatically offer tagging suggestions on photos uploaded to its platform among other uses.

This week, local facial recognition tech was making news.

DFW International Airport tests biometric screening

DFW International Airport is a test site for facial recognition biometric screening in a pilot program in Terminal D with Japan Airlines and British Airways. The airport plans on adding the tech to more than 75 gates soon for international flights, and it recently signed a two-year, $630,000 contract to license biometric software.

In action, the tech uses tablet-sized monitors to capture images of travelers and compares the photos with a government database of passport and visa photos.

“It’s about helping airports and airlines become more efficient while giving the best travel experience,” NEC Corp. of America spokesman John Wise said in a Government Technology report.

A follow-up pilot next year will give travelers on a London flight out of DFW the option to use biometric tech at a number of journey points from booking the flight through checking in at a hotel.

“The experience itself will be much more seamless; the customer is now even more in charge of how they want to use it,” said Julio Badin, DFW’s senior vice president of customer experience, in the report. “A simple example would be I don’t have to take out my passport, I don’t have to take my ticket. … It really simplifies the things that don’t have to be difficult.”

DFW has plans for growth and expansion, in addition to adding facial recognition machines to passenger gates, including two new taxiways and serving an annual 75 million customers by 2025. You can read more about that in the Vision 2020: A Look Into the Future of DFW International Airport report.

NeoFace deployments increase

In related news, facial recognition software called NeoFace, from Irving-based NEC, is being deployed in a number of places including the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco as well as the Irving and Grand Prairie police departments. Illustrating the flexibility of the technology, the uses are very different. At the hall of fame exhibits use the tech to recognize registered visitors and lets them engage in VR activities such as gaming. In Irving the tech uses cell phone images or surveillance video screen shots to compare against 15-years of Irving PD mugshots.


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Tech bytes

AveoMedical brings tech to geriatric healthcare

Dallas’ AveoMedical has partnered with Presbyterian Village North to offer technology that allows residents at the senior living facility to schedule appointments and conduct virtual doctor visits as well as view health records online.

To create a plan for the clinic, AveoMedical surveyed a sample of PVN residents for input on elements such as when the clinic is open, how appointments are scheduled, and more.

“When we learned of AveoMedical, we knew this integrated approach with customized care would be an ideal model to meet the needs of our residents,” said Bryan Cooper, executive director of PVN in a statement.

“It is amazing to see their genuine interest in our residents. We couldn’t be happier with the response and feel privileged to be the first community to apply this innovative approach for providing medical care for seniors,” added Cooper.

StackPath rolls out server-less computing option

The Dallas-based secure edge services platform recently made ICYMI for signing the Cybersecurity Tech Accord and partnering with Sectigo on no-cost private SSL certificates. Its latest news is announcing StackPath EdgeEngine, a serverless computing service built on the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine allowing developers to run code at the cloud’s edge without the need for a server, virtual machine, or container.

“The edge is the new frontier in cloud computing,” said Lance Crosby, StackPath co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “EdgeEngine gives developers the power to customize workloads at the edge without the burden or overhead of managing infrastructure. It’s just the first in a number of edge computing solutions we have in the works, and an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to control how data and traffic is handled right up to the point it reaches their end users, or where it hits their workloads.”

WayAround adds public location tags

Dallas Innovates first covered Dallas-based WayAround at its January launch when two architects, Darwin Belt and Armand Fisher, created the mobile app for people with vision loss or blindness, using tags attached to items such as files, clothes, or food in the home to provide information about the item.

The startup debuted its WayAround for Public Spaces at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Alexandria, Virginia. The tech uses smart tags at key locations in the environment to give users audio information describing the surroundings such as room layout, available features and how they operate, and emergency information.

“There are lots of visual cues that sighted people use to orient themselves to a new space, yet many aren’t available to someone with vision loss even using tools like the white cane or a guide dog,” said Belt, in a statement. “Today’s debut of WayAround for Public Spaces is a significant step toward increasing what kind of information is available to people with vision loss about the built environment.”

Coworking news

There seems to be an ever-growing demand for coworking space in North Texas. Earlier this month Dallas Innovates ran a feature on the ongoing trend highlighting a Regus, a provider of flexible workspace solutions with North American headquarters in Dallas, study that found by 2030 coworking could contribute $4.2 trillion to the U.S. economy yearly, save workers 861 million hours of yearly travel time, and decrease carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 100 million combined tons.

Venture X to open in Campbell Centre, Serendipity Labs in Hall Park

Venture X, one of the coworking companies covered in the Innovates report, already announced an Uptown location and is now planning on opening what was described as its “predominant location in Dallas” by Gianni R. LaBarba, managing director with Mohr Partners, and who negotiated the office lease, in a Dallas Morning News report.

The latest location for Venture X will be almost 24,000 square feet at the top two floors of the iconic gold-clad Campbell Centre north tower including top-of-the-building signage. The coworking space is set to open in early 2019.

A 25,000 square foot coworking space from Serendipity Labs in Hall Park in Frisco’s newest building opened last month. The coworking space includes meeting and event spaces and a café along with dedicated desks, offices, and team rooms.


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Real estate, infrastructure, and logistics

Cardtronics PLC expands Dallas presence

In other Hall Park news (see Serendipity Labs above), the Houston-based ATM operating company more than doubled it Hall Park in Frisco office space. The expansion of 46,000 square feet brings its total to 82,000 square feet across four floors and will house around 240 Cardtronics employees from three different locations per D CEO. It’s the ideal setting to come together as one team, says EVP Stuart MacKinnon. “Our space in the new HALL office tower has allowed Cardtronics to consolidate offices and expertise into one location, bringing together our technology, operations and product development teams into a highly collaborative environment that is conducive to innovation and growth,” Mackinnon said in a statement.  The Frisco location met Cardtronics’ office space criteria including space that supports “the competitive edge” to attract and retain top talent.

New datacenter breaks ground in Richardson

KDC partnered with State Farm for a 130.000 square foot data center near KDC’s CityLine development in Richardson set to open next summer. It will be KDC’s fifth ground-up data center in Richardson, and the city is offering a 10-year, 50-percent tax abatement on the development.

An October Dallas Innovates report on data centers in North Texas highlighted how the area is one of five Tier 1 markets for data centers in the U.S., along with Chicago, Metro New York, Northern California, and Washington D.C.

AT&T brings 5G wireless to downtown

The Dallas-based telecom giant rolled out its initial 5G network in and around Klyde Warren Park per the Dallas Business Journal. The next generation wireless tech was first made live via a Netgear Nighthawk 5G hotspot.

FedEx testing last-mile delivery service in North Texas

In logistics news, FedEx Freight launched a last-mile delivery service pilot program in the DFW market using branded 20-foot flat trucks with lift-gate capabilities. There are plans to possibly expand the pilot into four additional markets early next year. The program puts FedEx Freight in direct competition with XPO Logistics, the current go-to for last-mile delivery of heavy goods—defined as more than 150 pounds and possibly having unconventional dimensions—ordered online.


What we’re reading

BUSINESS BYTES

Study Shows Women Business Owners Are Less Optimistic Than Men
Capital One’s Small Business Growth Index found 67 percent of business owners think business conditions are good or excellent, up from 60 percent last year. Capital One recently hosted the “Own Your Optimism” event at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center to inspire and empower area women entrepreneurs.

$275M DFW family business sold to Australian company
Grand Prairie-based Pollock Packaging announced Thursday it’s being acquired by Australia-based Orora Ltd. for $80.5 million. “In addition to a strong core packaging solutions offering, Pollock brings a well-established facilities supplies business that will give OPS the platform it needs to expand in this key market segment,” Orora’s chief executive officer said in a statement.

FOOD + BEV.

Richardson tap room Four Bullets Brewery creates English beers with a Texas twist
Richardson’s Four Bullets Brewery will soon be distributing its Billion Dollar Blonde in cans across select Richardson beer and liquor stores including Whole Foods and Total Wine & More.

Starbucks opens unique community store in Red Bird area of Oak Cliff
Starbucks next week will open Texas’ first community store, one of 12 community hubs and training centers in the country. The store offers an urban loft-type feel, a drive-through, and an on-site community room.

TECH TALK

ezNova Technologies LLC Launches ezClocker as the Most Affordable and Simplest Employee Time Tracking and Scheduling Software for Small Business
Allen’s EzNova Technologies announced its exClocker product, a scalable employee time-tracking cloud-based solution for small businesses such as the janitorial, catering, landscape, health care, property management, and construction industries.

How facial recognition technology is being used, from police to a soccer museum
The National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco is using facial recognition to give visitors ” the most personalized experience in sports,” the FC Dallas President said. Meanwhile, police in Irving and Grand Prairie are using the technology to solve crime.

GPS Tracks Lung Cancer
Dallas doctors are using Veran Spin’s thoracic navigation system, a GPS-like technology, to locate and fight lung cancer. The system uses electromagnetic sensors to track deadly cancer nodules inside patients, allowing surgeons to see tumors with far more accuracy.

NEW + NEXT

Design District office tower will become new Hilton hotel
The 9-story Feizy Center building at 1949 N. Stemmons is slated for a makeover that will convert the 89,000-square-foot building into a 147-room Hilton Hotel. The building was constructed in 1965 and was most recently home to the Feizy Import & Export Co.

Dallas Women’s Foundation reveals new identity at star-powered lunch
Dallas Women’s Foundation, which gives women access to economic security and leadership through research, grant-making, and advocacy, changed its name to the Texas Women’s Foundation. Philanthropic leaders raised $1.5 million at a luncheon this week.

Mental health clinic opens inside a Walmart in Texas
A Walmart store in Carrollton has opened an outpatient mental health clinic that gives residents access to a licensed mental health professional. The clinic is managed by Boston-based Beacon Health Options which leases space from Walmart, making the clinic its first practice in a retail setting.

YOU HAVE TO SEA THIS

[via Gfycat]

Dallas-based Gemmy has the Must-Have Holiday Item for 2018: Alexa-Compatible Big Mouth Billy Bass
Alexa, play “Fishin’ Time”—Big Mouth Billy Bass is back. As one of the new offerings in Alexa Gadgets, the singing and talking fish can now be paired with a compatible Echo device. Upgraded Billy can lip-sync along to Alexa’s responses, dance to songs from Amazon Music, and react to notifications. Oh, and if a boogying Billy is a little too fishy, Gemmy Industries is also selling two holiday-themed animated plush characters that can be paired with Alexa: Twerking Santa and Twerking Christmas Bear.


TELL US: What’s grabbing your attention right now? What should we be reading? Send your tips, links, and thoughts here


Top 10
Dallas Innovates most-read stories this week

1. ‘Citi’ of Irving: Firm Professionals Advance Digital Platforms, Stave Off Cyberthreats, Log 35K Volunteer Hours

2. The Greater Dallas Planning Council Announces Urban Design Award Winners

3. Sensory Sciences: Hypergiant’s New AI Startup Teaches Machines to ‘Learn How to Learn’

4. By Rail & Truck, Dallas’ Inland Port is at the Crossroads of Commerce, Logistics

5. Look Inside: Neighborhood Goods Imagines the Future of Retail in Plano

6. ‘Moms in Law’ Unites Female Lawyers in North Texas for Support, Networking

7. New Mobile App Helps Parents Prevent Medication Mistakes

8. Follow the Money: Virgin Pulse Acquires SimplyWell; ModoPayments, Complex Sports & Entertainment Get Funds

9. Innovative Spaces: Canopy Dallas Uptown Features High-Tech Food Service, Memorable Views

10. Meet the Major Developers of the International Inland Port of Dallas


Things to Do
Events to inspire, connect, educate, and inform innovators

Calendar: Hack NTX, 2018 State of the City, Founders Live Dallas
From IoT tech (Internet of Manufacturing Southwest) to holiday festivities (Dallas Women Entrepreneurs Holiday Expo) to panels (VARIDESK’s The Opportunities and Challenges of Change), browse our curated selection of events to plan your next week—and beyond.

Quincy Preston, Alex Edwards, and Payton Potter contributed to this report.

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