PENTICTON - A leading edge, high-tech Vancouver company’s recent sale to computer chip giant Intel is a success story with a Penticton connection.
Recon Instruments, a Yaletown based company which is an industry leader in heads up display technology, made business headlines earlier this month with the announcement the company had been acquired by computer chip manufacturer Intel Corporation.
The purchase will provide Recon Instruments with more capital and access to further research and development money which will allow the company to grow its strategic position in the emerging market of heads up display devices, so says a key member of the Recon Instruments leadership team, who has deep roots in Penticton, according to Tyson Miller.
Miller is Recon's vice-president of consumer product and grew up in Penticton and has family in the city.
“I’m about as close to Penticton as you can possibly get outside of living there,” he says, adding he spends a lot of time visiting and will probably buy a home in the city, “pretty quick.”
Miller, who has been with Recon for four years, is ultimately responsible for developing products people will want. Under his guidance, the company’s engineering team defines and builds new products .
“If we were to have a problem with one of our heads up products in the market, I’m directly responsible - entirely,” he says.
“It’s been crazy in here lately, having just been acquired by Intel. We’re really the only consumer manufacturer of a wearable heads up display device out there and our devices are absolutely just taking off,” Miller says. Recon Instruments was “right on the forefront” of the wearable heads up display market, which industry analysts say is poised to take off, he says.
The company’s devices are manufactured into sports wearables like ski goggles, where users can see such things as their speed, distance, text messaging, incoming calls, navigation on the mountain, where their friends are.
The company also has smart sunglasses which provide a heads up display for cycling or running.
“We’re focussed on the endurance side of things,” Miller says, himself a five time Ironman Canada competitor, as well as being the youngest ever to finish the Ironman Canada race.
Miller says Recon should have access to further research and development funding, and other funds the company “never would have had,” without its new association with Intel.
“When you’re growing a company, you have to price the product so you can make enough money to pay the bills and everything like that, but with a company like Intel that has a market capitalization of 151 billion dollars, they are one of the largest companies on the earth, and they want to grow this market. They want to be on the forefront of wearables,” he says. He could see Recon products being in the marketplace “everywhere” in the next few years.
Miller says the wearables market is almost limitless, seeing usage “anywhere you need data but can’t use a computer." As a former forestry firefighter, he says its use in providing “at the eye” delivery of data such as wind speed, direction and air temperature would be useful to have.
The company’s heads up application of computer technology is a natural progression which has seen the computer interface move from smart phones to a wrist watch.
“The reason you haven’t seen it go to the face yet is because it takes a lot of engineering to look good and feel lightweight with great battery life,” he says.
"Computers in wristwatches are finally here. It takes a lot of money and the technology to be available to do it. Face stuff is next - we’re selling our product like crazy,” Miller says, adding the company’s latest device — the one that got Intel interested in Recon Instruments — was first tested on Skaha Lake Road in Penticton during one of his visits home.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at email@example.com or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.