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November 17, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Two Knoxville tech companies partner with Midlab Inc. on AR-based tool for the commercial cleaning industry

Have you ever thought about how an emerging technology called Augmented Reality (AR) might play a role in the commercial cleaning industry?

You may not have, but the executive leadership at one of the world’s leading companies in that sector has, and it turned to two of Knoxville’s leading technology providers, lead project designer AppDriven Marketing, Inc. and lead developer CodeTank Labs LLC, to help produce an AR-based tool to help its customers. An early version of the solution will be on display starting today at the ISSA Show North America at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The company that conceived of this patent-pending AR based approach to training is Midlab Inc., founded in 1980 in Athens and now the second largest provider of janitorial supplies in the world. Today, it offers more than 600 different high-quality, custom-blended formulas for every cleaning need. As noted on its webpage, Midlab specializes in products for building service contractors as well as those in the hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, food service and other sectors.

The show that runs through Thursday is a really big stage to display the technology solution that draws on AR, a rapidly evolving platform. The event is expected to draw more than 16,000 successful professionals from around the world for the show for cleaning and maintenance solutions. More than 750 exhibitors from 24 countries will showcase their latest facility solutions.

So, what exactly have AppDriven Marketing and CodeTank Labs developed? We sat down recently with David Levi, Co-Founder and Senior Partner at CodeTank Labs, to learn about the technology and actually use the early version. As lead developer for the project, he’s devoted about one-half of his time for the past three months to its production, fulfilling the design directives provided by Steve Powers, lead designer at AppDriven Marketing. The latter worked with Midlab personnel to lay out the technical details and patent-pending design for the product.

Midlab highlighted the product in this teaser on its website ahead of the ISSA Show. Basically, different surfaces require different cleaning products. How does an individual determine which product is best for that surface? Wearing a HoloLens device coupled with the pre-programmed content about each surface and the optimal Midlab product to use, the cleaning person will be able to make the correct decisions.

“Imagine a world without improper cleaning and time-consuming training,” Midlab writes on the teaser. “Utilizing advanced technology and innovative solutions, Midlab is set to revolutionize the cleaning industry once again. We’re on a mission to change the way people think about cleaning and training, and that starts with simplifying those processes for you and your crew.”

With the evolution of the HoloLens – the second version of the headset that is less cumbersome is now on the market, Levi says the technology is rapidly evolving.

“We have developed two applications,” he told us. One is focused on the individual at a janitorial service or other customer of Midlab who has to teach new employees which product to use on a given surface. For obvious reasons, that application is called the trainer version. There’s also one for the trainee that he or she would use in the normal course of a workday.

With further refinements in the HoloLens and other AR headsets, Levi says the long-term goal is to allow a cleaning person wearing a headset to be able to scan a room, identify the surface material, determine the best product to use, and be able to learn anything they need to know about the application or care in using the product.

“We are proud of our involvement with this first version of this industry leading training product and share in the excitement of it’s debut at the upcoming ISSA show,” he says.

From past conversations with Levi and Andrew May, the other CodeTank Co-Founder, we know that AR and Virtual Reality technology are becoming more important to their clients as the technologies evolve and proven use cases emerge.

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