CAIRO: Call it a meeting of the Hishams – one a business guru, one a technology wiz, who have partnered to create some of the most innovative 3D work coming out of the region today.
Hisham Abdel Maguid partnered his business prowess with Hesham Medhat’s technological acumen to create Epic Systems, which launched early last year.
Abdel Maguid worked for many years for IBM. Then he switched to real estate.
“I made the mistake of pursuing something new. But the IT industry is always changing, he said, acknowledging that in the IT sector, it’s never good enough to be on the curve; entrepreneurs need to be ahead of the curve.
To this end, Abdel Maguid jumped out front in the race to develop new technologies by linking up with Medhat, who had developed cutting edge 3D interactive technologies.
The Epic team, which totals around 18, has begun doing work for a number of leading real estate firms in Egypt.
One of its major partners is Palm Hills Development (PHD). Epic has been tasked with modeling developments for the real estate giant, both as a means of marketing and to help with property management.
The team scoured pictures and plans of a PHD project and labored to make it a virtual reality.
Now, prospective buyers can zoom through the development, getting a feel for it, while scouting out potential properties – their look, feel and location.
“If you want to sell a flat, villa, or whatever, said Abdel Maguid, “a photo doesn’t let you relate.
Clients can also use the technology to create marketing videos, wherein they record a fly through that they can send to clients and that they can display in their sales offices.
Most astonishing about the technology is how much Epic has been able to improve its graphics over the past year and a half. Whereas the old imaging was adequate, the latest versions capture something approaching reality.
Epic has another program that allows prospective homebuyers to tour their future house and make furnishing decisions.
Don’t want an ornate bed? Walk your avatar upstairs and browse several models of simpler models.
On the functional side, Abdel Maguid says these programs are intended to appeal to engineers as well. The company is developing systems through which engineers will be able to see the structural elements of developments. They’ll know where to tear up the road because the piping underneath it will be graphically mapped out.
As knowledge of Epic’s technology continues to spread, so too does the range of its projects.
It is currently working with the Egyptian military on simulations to help train soldiers. It’s also working on educational projects.
“One of the very interesting things we’re doing now, said Abdel Maguid, “we’re trying to visualize the Aqsa Mosque.
In its most groundbreaking and ambitious project, though, Epic is working to revolutionize the way you shop.
Rather than choosing products from online lists or calling a place like Metro Market and waiting on hold, Epic wants to allow a virtual version of yourself to browse the aisles of your favorite supermarket, pharmacy, etc.
The team has developed a prototype, but Abdel Maguid says it will be another year before the product is ready to be sold.
In the program, a shopper guides a cart around a virtual store. Stopping at the shampoo aisle, the shopper can browse various brands, reading prices and descriptions before choosing what to put in the shopping cart.
The idea, too, is that the program would interface with the market’s database so that when the eggplant is sold out, it disappears from the virtual aisle too.
Abdel Maguid says he hopes to begin selling the product to markets around Egypt and around the world before long.
Epic has another side to its business that is not only innovative, but also engaged in leading edge social projects.
The company has designed a system of data visualization that allows researchers to look at data in 4 dimensions.
As an example, one program charts the correlation between life expectancy and annual income. But a slider in the bottom allows researchers to view the chart through the prism of time. Adding a fourth dimension, each country’s population is reflected by the size of the data point representing it.
Abdel Maguid says that only Epic and Google use this technology. But, he noted, Google doesn’t sell the program.
In implementing the technology, Abdel Maguid has sold it to a wide range of groups, including Deutsche Bank, Princeton University, and hospitals in Saudi Arabia. He’s currently in negotiations to do business with Egypt’s Central Bank.
Abdel Maguid is eager to get more involved with the US market. He sees it as an opportunity to reach more people.
“I took the lesson that you have to do something new, have an edge to make money, he said. “Otherwise you wait in queue with everybody else.