Ideum Inc.: Excelling in interactive display tables

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer/Albuquerque Journal

Ideum founder and CEO Jim Spadaccini constantly embraces emerging technology to expand and improve his company's products. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

 

Ideum Inc. harnessed its fortune to interactive, multi-touch display tables before that technology even matured, and now it’s reaping the benefits on a global scale.

The Corrales-based company sold more than 500 made-in-New Mexico multi-touch display tables last year, generating $7.4 million in revenue. That’s up 264 percent from $2.8 million in 2012, earning it third place on this year’s Flying 40 list of fast-growing firms with under $10 million in revenue.

“We’ve sold hardware in 41 countries now,” said Ideum founder and CEO Jim Spadaccini. “We just added Ireland to the list after our first sale there in May.”

Ideum’s multi-touch display tables are now used in hundreds of museums, research institutions, corporate buildings, military installations and other venues around the world. The White House even installed one last summer.

“It’s just outside the situation room,” Spadaccini said. “Staff use it to look at unclassified, but relevant, real-time information.”

The company benefited not just from early entrance in the market, but from constant embrace of emerging technology to expand and improve its products. Today’s touch-screen displays barely resemble the technology Ideum used when making its first table in 2008. The new models can do far more.

The tables have always allowed groups of people to simultaneously pull up visual displays and information at the touch of a finger, enhancing museum exhibits or allowing visitors in a building lobby to rapidly access needed information. But the company’s latest creations convert entire rooms into interactive displays.

“We’re using video and audio projection on walls and objects to transform entire spaces,” Spadaccini said. “Our tables were always a component in public spaces, but now we interconnect it with interactive media. You can project video on a wall with the touch of a finger.”

The company’s initial models used surface mirrors, infrared LEDs and cameras to track people’s fingers. Now, they use conductive pressure points to follow fingers through conductivity.

“Our first models were boxlike units with less resolution than what’s common in a high-definition TV today,” Spadaccini said. “The new ones essentially do the same things, but the way they do it is different and with much higher resolution and greater fidelity of experience.”

The company workforce, which grew from 33 to 55 since 2012, includes everything from 3D artists, videographers and photographers to designers, programmers and producers. The staff combines expertise in software and hardware to incorporate the best of both worlds in Ideum’s technology.

“Design revisions and changes big and small happen every six months as the tables evolve, technology improves and our design and manufacturing ability grows,” Spadaccini said.

The company now occupies three buildings with 22,000 square feet, up from one 1,200-square-foot building when Ideum first set up shop in 2006 on the south edge of Corrales.

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