Home improvement can be challenging. It is difficult to visualize what that tiny sample of paint or flooring would look like in your home. Selecting the wrong colour could be a decision you have to live with for a while. But worry no more. Cambrian, a Kansas City based start-up, has a home improvement app that helps you visualize what that colour of paint or flooring would look like in your homes at the touch of a screen.
Cambrian was cofounded by a power couple – Heather Spalding and Joel Teply. Joel’s tech knowledge and Heather’s neuroscience background synthesized into making a great augmented reality product. Heather was previously a neuroscience researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Joel Teply is a techie who has worked at firms such as VML and EyeVerify.
In 2011, their common interest in computer vision got them brainstorming about various use-cases. After settling down on home improvement visualization, Joel built an app called Wall Painter. As they were going through a transition themselves in terms of painting and decorating their new home, they understood the challenges involved. Their app was primarily focused on DIYers (Do It Yourself). The app was an overnight success with over 12,000 users. There was a lot of interest in the app from paint companies across the world.
This interest and success got them to form Cambrian. Heather and Joel continued with their jobs while pursuing Cambrian during the nights and over the weekends. This went on for a few years till Heather left the Medical Center and joined Cambrian full time in 2016. Later that year, Joel also joined Cambrian full time.
Cambrian has been very active in the Kansas City start-up ecosystem. In 2017, Cambrian won $100,000 as a part of the LaunchKC grand prize. Joel and Heather have also been invited at various forums in Kansas City such as ACG Kansas City, 1 Billion Bits and the Regnier Institute to talk to other entrepreneurs and developers. Heather was also part of the fifth cohort of ScaleUP! Kansas City, a program focused on helping entrepreneurs scale up their business by providing them with the necessary tools and networks. Earlier this year, Cambrian featured in Startland News’ ‘Top Kansas City startups to watch in 2018’ list.
Cambrian has a home improvement visualizing app called Home Harmony that helps you see what a particular type of flooring or paint would look like in a specific area of your home given the setting. Using computer vision and machine learning, the augmented reality representation is as realistic as possible.
The app is very easy to use. All you have to do is hold up the phone, click a picture, select the colour, tap on the space to be modified, and viola, you can see what it will look like in your living room or bed room. The app also shows you what it would look like under various lighting conditions that are experienced. The representation is able to go around objects such as wall hangings and furniture. If there is a painting on the wall, the app is able to represent what the paint will look like while going around the object.
The Home Harmony app has colour options from paint companies such as Behr, Benjamin Moore, Prestige, Prestige Designers, Sherwin Williams and Valspar while the flooring options are from Shaw. The app also helps you calculate the amount of paint that would be required. The response to the app has been incredible. The Home Harmony app has over 100,000 installs on android with a rating of 3.8. The app is also very user friendly in terms of permissions.
The DIY Revolution
The ‘Do-It-Yourself’ (DIY) projects have been a strong force for over a hundred years. In the 1970’s, there was a wave of DIY material and content being created. With the rise of modern technology, this has gone digital with dedicated sites such as instructables.com and doityourself.com.
This revolution is driven by two factors – cost and the desire for creativity. DIY activities tend to achieve the end objectives at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone else to do it. DIY activities also tend to be an opportunity for creative expression. With the rise of mundane and repetitive tasks, this is a good way to relax and explore.
Cambrian is a critical addition to this larger ecosystem. While there are platforms that provide high quality content, there is a gap that has existed for a long time – the gap between imagination and reality. Augmented Reality (AR) is able to solve this gap and make the experience much smoother for customers. Cambrian is able to bridge that gap by helping the user visualize. While we may be able to visualize what that colour or flooring might look like, we’re not sure what it would actually look like. Making decisions based on a tiny sample is difficult. Cambrian solves this visualization challenge.
Painting isn’t one of those activities that happen very often. Based on various factors such as the number of people living, the usage pattern, and the weather conditions, homes are painted anywhere between every two to ten years. If you pick the wrong colour, you’re pretty much stuck with it for a long time to come.
There is intense competition in the home improvement augmented reality space. With paint companies launching their own apps and third parties also developing their app, the market is very competitive. Cambrian has made a strategic move by developing their own Software Development Kit (SDK). Cambrian is able to licence its SDK to other companies interested in developing an app or platform. Apart from their own app, Cambrian has clients who have similar apps powered by Cambrian. Prestige Paints is one such client whose app Prestige ColorPic is powered by Cambrian.
Cambrian is looking to expand into areas such as furniture, countertops, and appliances among others. In various interviews, Heather has indicated that a round of funding may be around the corner. They have a solid product which is helping customers make better decisions while helping companies service their clients better.