Gone are the days of boring screen displays – now we are all sitting up and paying attention. The Munich-based start-up Apicbeam, a spin-off from TUM, has designed a holographic technology that helps bring collective ideas midair to the fore digitally. As a result, every user sees things from the same perspective. Absolutely ingenious. We spoke with Christoph Knappe, CEO and co-founder of Apicbeam. He gave us a glimpse behind the scenes. Against this background, we are already looking forward to the exciting future of this young company from Munich.
Can you please briefly tell our readers how you came up with the idea for this new invention and what is so special about Apicbeam?
Just to clarify: I am not the inventor of Apicbeam technology. It was our co-founder Sascha Grusche who came up with the amazing idea for the Apicbeam. He originally worked on an image-based teaching concept that could explain the relationship between colors and wavelengths to students. He succeeded in encrypting two-dimensional images and videos on a quasi one-dimensional ‘spaghetti’ beam which subsequently makes these images appear to float in space. The interesting thing about this is that the images appear to all viewers simultaneously as if by magic. When you experience this collectively for the first time, it is a very fascinating and unifying experience.
Which fields of application are interesting for your free-floating holographic images?
We are currently working on calculating and making simulations of where the limits of technology currently lie. As a consequence, we will then be able to estimate how large we can display floating images using our patented process.
In principle, many areas of application are plausible for new display technologies like Apicbeam. In addition to the automotive and entertainment sectors, most inquiries at present are coming from premium brands and advertising agencies that want to present their products and customers in a new, attention-grabbing way. The free-floating marketing of the future, so to speak.
Our grand vision, however, is to bring people back to the discussion table and enable fascinating, unifying digital experiences. Apicbeam’s technology has the potential to make these kinds of experiences a reality in a very simple and affordable way.
A product like this is definitely a technically very complex one to develop – was there ever a time when you almost gave up?
In my opinion, you can always find reasons to give up. That’s also an easy option. Uncertainties are always expected with a start-up, but you can learn to deal with them.
As far as I know, you only have one life on this beautiful planet that we call home. So you should value your time on earth and make the most of it. I can’t say what this means for any given person. For me personally, it means not spending 40 hours of my life in a major financial institution just because I make good money. That simply doesn’t fit in with my adventurous spirit and values in the long run.
We have a great team at Apicbeam, and a wonderful working relationship with TU Munich and our partners. And we just really enjoy creating something new together. To think ahead in terms of the future, to help shape the world. We are very aware that every adventure also has negative sides and that it all will come to an end at some point. Nobody can say when the Apicbeam adventure will be – for whatever reason – over and done with. Giving up can also be an important step if there is no other way. The only thing I can say for sure is that there will undoubtedly be new adventures beyond that.
Which idea are you currently working on and which display technology or design from your company can we look forward to in the future?
We are currently working with a customer on a project for the 2020 Nuremberg Toy Fair. However, I can’t say any more about this at this point. Things are still pretty exciting.
Starting a business and having a private life – how can you reconcile both in a positive way?
There are certainly many different approaches to this whole subject. Personally, I find it very important to listen to your body and mind. We often forget that we have an inner voice that tells us when something is up. In the big monopoly game that’s out there, we quickly learned to be higher, faster, better. In my case, there was a point at which I overstepped my limits in my old job in the automotive industry. I wasn’t sleeping well, I couldn’t concentrate properly. In the end, I no longer had anything that drove me. I just didn’t see it anymore. Forty hours in a well-paid “prison” with restrictive bureaucratic processes just didn’t suit me or my life at that time. It was my business sense and the supposed promise of security that brought me into that situation. After a few conversations with friends, my family and a one-time visit to the professionals at Rechts der Isar Hospital, one thing became clear: I had to get out of prison.
One day I may well want to find a more solid sense of security once more, particularly when it comes to planning a family. But for now, my appetite for variety and adventure is what matters.
If you look back on your experience as an entrepreneur: What tips do you have for other fledgling startups?
Try something, fall down and get back on your feet – that’ s how almost everyone learns to ride a bike. Oh yeah, and turn off your mobile phone and head off into the mountains for a hike …