Q&A with Benjamin Vander Jaqt, co-founder and president
What is PixElement’s role in the geospatial marketplace?
We empower individuals, companies, and agencies to leverage their existing imagery assets to answer new questions. For example, in the commercial construction sector, aerial imagery was historically used most often for inspection. It answered basic questions like, “Are they making progress?” or “Have they finished the roof?” But now, with those exact images, they can quantify the progression on a construction site, and, more importantly, mistakes can be explained. For example, “Why was that transformer installed 13 centimeters higher as compared to design and how close is that vegetation to the right of way?” Such capabilities extend to geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) as well. In intelligence, questions often need to be answered quickly with whatever imagery is available, and our software is what makes sense of it all.
What are some of the primary industries you serve?
As a startup, our initial focus was mainly in construction, mining, and surveying, but we quickly discovered that accurate 3D data is an essential component of GEOINT. Now, we represent anyone looking to extract high-accuracy 3D information from imagery. Our algorithms work with close-range drone imagery, aerial, and satellite platforms. As a result, we have a diverse set of customers all over the world. At the highest level, the primary function of our software isn’t processing images, it’s to enable discovery and foster collaboration throughout the enterprise—from analysts and engineers to crucial stakeholders and policymakers.
What services do you provide?
PixElement is a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software company serving both industry and government. With imagery as the input, we provide incredible tools that allow for 3D and 4D modeling of objects, job sites, and battlespace with unprecedented accuracy. We release new versions of our software multiple times a month and continuously add new functionalities based primarily on user feedback. We actively engage with our users to figure out better ways to solve their complex problems.
What makes you stand out within the GEOINT Community?
We are passionate about the value of time, and we developed our image processing software with that in mind. Every feature, tool, and process has been built to accelerate the decision-making timeline.
From a technical standpoint, our 3D workflows and technology infrastructure were designed from the ground up to leverage the scalability of the cloud (i.e., it is cloud native). There is a significant push within the GEOINT Community to modernize legacy applications by moving them to the cloud, but if those applications were designed to live and operate in a single box, what good is it if you have 10,000 boxes available?
How has USGIF membership benefited PixElement?
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was our first government customer and opened our eyes to the world of GEOINT. We decided to learn more about the community, its various constituents, and the daily problems they encountered that we could potentially solve; this led us to USGIF. Membership in a community like USGIF is all about engaging with other people. As first-year members, we have already met many different individuals, companies, and agencies. It was a real eye-opening experience the first time we walked through the doors at GEOINT 2019, and the Symposium helped us identify where we fit in as a company.
What are your hopes for the future of PixElement?
We’re interested in working with new organizations like the National Reconnaissance Office and the U.S. Air Force to solve problems that are unique to their respective missions. For example, leveraging the high-resolution 3D models we generate from EO imagery to improve the accuracy and interpretation of SAR data, which can be collected in all types of weather conditions and has numerous GEOINT applications.
Things are changing quickly in this industry. Sometimes, as a small business, it’s frightening because you wonder what the next 10 years have in store. But what excites us most and keeps us going is discovery. There’s not a week that goes by when we aren’t discovering a new feature, or a more efficient process, or a new problem to solve. And that gives us the confidence to embrace change and the challenges that come with it.
Featured image: 3D building measurement and analysis using PixElement software. (Credit: PixElement)