Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ultramap User's Meeting - Boulder, CO

 This week my division lead Arley and I attended the Ultramap User’s Meeting at the Microsoft Bing Mapping headquarters in Boulder, CO.  Ultramap is the software WSI uses to process the 260 megapixel photos collected by our UltraCam Eagle Large Format sensor.  Basically, from 2,000 feet in the air each image captures about 130 acres of land with each pixel representing about 2 inches on the ground.  Yeah, you don’t want to tan topless in your backyard anymore when you hear a plane fly overhead.

This was my first work conference ever so I took the opportunity to network as much as I could.  We were surrounded by CEO’s of other photogrammetry specific companies, several of which Arley and I really hit it off with.  Others were our competition and we were trying to figure out the methods they used compared to us.  A takeaway for us was how respected WSI is in the remote sensing community for our innovative data processing and quality deliverables.  

Arley and I presented on the first day how we incorporate our LiDAR data with that of our new high resolution imagery into 3D and 4D proprietary products for clients and everyone seemed pretty impressed.  We also saw a presentation from a guy named Aaron who runs an entire business completely by himself from acquisition in his single plane all the way to delivery.

It was pretty cool being inside the heart of the Bing Mapping offices.  They really have a nice setup with pool tables, big tv’s, shuffle boards, and even an Xbox360 game room for the employees.  I felt a little awkward at times when I mistakenly blurted out “just google it” instead of “just look it up on a search engine”.  I also had to whip out my Macbook Pro to copy our presentation over which felt a little odd in the basement of Microsoft.

We stayed in an amazing 5-star hotel and spa called the St. Julien in downtown Boulder for both Wed and Thurs nights.  The Ultracam employees paid for delicious meals for us at two very fancy restaurants where we had wonderful conversations over delicious steak, seafood, and wine with others in our industry.  We never got to take advantage of our enormous rooms with amazing bathrooms or the spa facilities as we stayed busy with conference but we certainly ate well. 

The “social event” for the conference was a trip to Uncer Racing near Denver on the first night of the conference.  There was also an event Friday night after dinner but Arley had to fly back and I was getting picked up by relatives.  Uncer Rancing was amazing.  It was basically a go-cart race track in a giant warehouse building where you could reach speeds of 40-50mph in the modified carts and could drift around corners.   We were required to wear helmets and offered fire suits but declined.  We had two qualifying heats each and then a final championship.  I won both my qualifying heats but  placed last in the championship simply because I gave up and wanted to see how much drifting I could do before they got mad and turned the governor on remotely to slow down my cart.  They did it after about 3 laps.... ha!

I really had a great time at the conference and felt like we learned a lot about the new upcoming software and direction the industry is moving in.  This will keep us informed and help to continue our technological advancements at WSI.

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