Newman, Olson look to the (point) cloud

17/09/2015 - 15:33

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Tech entrepreneur Rob Newman and company director Ian Olson are leading the latest backdoor listing on the ASX, with their spatial data service Pointerra to join the exchange through a reverse takeover of Soil Sub Technologies.

Pointerra chair Rob Newman (left) and managing director Ian Olson.

Tech entrepreneur Rob Newman and company director Ian Olson are leading the latest backdoor listing on the ASX, with their spatial data service Pointerra to join the exchange through a reverse takeover of Soil Sub Technologies.

Both men have been involved in related business ventures in the surveying space.

Mr Olson, who is the managing director of Pointerra, owns WKC Spatial, which specialises in capturing, processing, modelling and management of 3D point cloud data.

He was formerly a chartered accountant at PKF.

For chairman Dr Newman, it isn’t the first move into the tech space either, with a series of previous successes including QPSX Communications, Atmosphere Networks, nearmap and venture capital firm Stone Ridge Ventures.

In this deal, the two are looking to raise around $4 million in a placement led by RM Corporate finance to support commercialisation of Pointerra’s 'data as a service' product .

Pointerra will use a computer algorithm to index enormous amounts of surveying data into ‘point cloud’ format, so it can be dynamically accessed and viewed.

That means previously unused data which has been collected can be unlocked and easily navigated, in three dimensional form.

The information depicted in such point clouds is enormously large, potentially terabytes, or even petabytes, of data, and usually needs a supercomputer to process.

By comparison, just one petabyte of data requires the entire storage capacity of almost 2,000 Macbook Air laptops.

It will have a range of uses, from asset management among the big miners and energy players, to property development.

“From an engineering, design and construction perspective, and asset management perspective, there are enormous implications for the owners of the data,” Mr Olson said.

“Main Roads department, local government authorities and building owners should be (open to) sharing the data, particularly if they could earn an income stream from it.”

The company won’t be collecting the information, however, instead acting as a service provider.

“This is not about capturing data,” Mr Olson said.

“What we’re doing is we’re helping people who’ve already captured point cloud data.

“Until now, these data sets, they pretty much sit on servers and on hard drives sitting in drawers, because surveyors, end users, (have had) no effective way to access the whole unified data set.”

He said that as data sets were getting larger, particularly through the use of drones, it became more beneficial to host such data offsite, which is why the company is using a data as a service model.

One benefit of the approach is that it is very scalable, Mr Olson said.

The surveying data industry has had a range of WA-based innovations in recent years, with other companies, such as nearmap and Spookfish, in the data collection space.

nearmap provides high resolution aerial photo-imagery, accessible through an online portal, and Spookfish, which was recently listed on the ASX through White Star Resources, says its business model is to commercialise geospatial products and services.

At the time it joined the bourse, it had attracted Hoperidge Capital, a vehicle for Rod Jones, as a cornerstone investor.

The Pointerra deal is one of more than 70 such reverse takeovers attempted since the peak of the mining boom, with the slew of completed listings including Cirrus Networks, Norwood Systems and iWebGate.

Meanwhile, Nemex Resources has made a late change in its acquisition of Wavefront Biometric Technologies, for which it planned to raise up to $9 million.

Nemex said the finalisation of terms for its capital raising and notice for a shareholder meeting would be delayed until after the results of a competitive analysis review of Wavefront’s product.

That review was expected to be completed on a short timeframe, however, the company said.

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