Small Businesses, Big Results: Ario

by Ryan Miller

By Barrett Baker

Leadership Team: Joe Weaver, CEO/Augmented Realty Developer; Nate Fender, Vice President of Product; BK Fulton, Chairman
Founded: 2016
Location: Jefferson Applied Research Center, 12050 Jefferson Ave., Suite 250, Newport News
Number of Employees: 14

Ario specializes in designing and customizing augmented realty and 3D applications that increase safety, efficiency and quality product output for commercial, medical, construction and military industries.

Ario is an acronym for Augmented Reality Input/Output. Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes data information into the user’s environment in real-time. Although the technology has been known for decades, the recent upsurge in the development of consumer-ready augmented reality devices by companies like Microsoft, Daqri, Apple and so many others, cemented the company’s decision into developing AR. They believe that AR technology will improve how businesses educate and communicate internally to their employees, and externally to the client base. Augmented reality empowers workers by giving them a layer of information that makes them more confident, efficient, safer and well informed.

CEO and Augmented Reality Developer Joe Weaver says that Ario’s mission is to provide software solutions that specifically and effectively resolve issue to better motivate people. “To that end, we diversify our software solutions by doing AR-VR-MR (Augmented Reality-Virtual Real-Mixed Reality),” he explains. “Virtual Reality is where the user is in a completely computer-generated environment. Mixed Reality is where both VR and AR elements are present to the user at the same time. These different technologies have different advantages. What brings us together and pushes us forward is our ability to find the right software solution and the right device for that solution. There are so many positive uses for these technologies, and we are excited to be a part of the process.”

To contend with the newness of this technology in the commercial market, Ario’s team believes that diversification in everything they do allows them to adapt quickly to market changes. They identify social stigmas that surround their technology—such as adversarial perceptions or misinformation—and provide facts and solutions through research and expert business practices.

“We are always looking for individuals who, like us, are enthusiastic and energetic about augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D modeling technology,” says Weaver. “To help us grow our small business, we have implemented several outreach programs in the area to recruit software developers. The community’s support of our technology, from businesses to educational institutions, has brought us great joy. A large majority of our employees have been residents here for years, so to be a part of improving local businesses, encouraging job growth in our community and creating a technology base has truly amplified our efforts.”

Photo by Jim Pile

As innovators and leaders in their field, being a small business has been beneficial as it allows them to pursue business ideas at a fast pace. Their approach to this technology is to provide practical and seamless integration, which sets them apart from a majority of developers.

“We partnered with Star Labs, a motion-capture studio based in Hampton, which has been successful in advancing our technology’s capabilities and furthering our goal to network and team with technologists in the community,” Weaver says. “As we customize VR, AR and MR applications, we wanted to provide our clients with realistic visualizations bound by real-world physics, as well as to offer a studio to our clients to do their own group VR training and/or kinesthetic research. The Star Labs’ team has been more than welcoming of our effort and has been a great part of our success.”

Ario’s business goal is to expand and also to inspire in hopes that their business will spark new tech businesses in the area. Weaver’s advice to those businesses as they come together is simple. “Communication is important. Clear and concise communication to your employees and to your client base will allow your company to push forward the vision you foresee for your company.”

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