Adding dimension to art reproductions

- Vancouver, British Columbia

Van Gogh's Irises being scanned by Arius Technology's 3D scanner, which builds on scanning technology with its early roots at NRC

For entrepreneurs, being able to recognize value is essential.

As Chief Executive Officer of Arius Technology, Paul Lindahl knows this to be true for assessing partners and programs supporting innovation. He confirms that EUREKA, a program managed in Canada by the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), has delivered such value.

Through government and corporate funding, EUREKA supports companies of all sizes as they pair industrial research efforts for the benefits of their respective companies and countries.

"Going back to EUREKA was a no-brainer."

Paul Lindahl, CEO, Arius Technology

Benefit for all

Paul Lindahl, CEO, Arius Technology

The Government of Canada's Concierge service first alerted Lindahl to EUREKA's existence. Next, Lindahl's NRC IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor Mehrzad Movassaghi stepped in to analyze Arius' 3D laser scanning technology capability and market opportunities.

As part of his assessment, Movassaghi consulted NRC IRAP colleague Wei Ning. Wei reviewed the proposal through the lens of lessons he learned from earlier EUREKA projects and from creating a roadmap of EUREKA processes for British Columbia and Yukon-based companies. Based on that background, Movassaghi and Wei advised ways to strengthen Arius' EUREKA proposal in light of the project's scope, eligibility criteria and economic prospects.

Arius teamed with European partners Conservation by Design (a division of Larson-Juhl) and the University College of London. The results from Lindahl's first EUREKA project earned Arius the chance to apply its 3D scanning technology to reproduce art masterpieces held at the National Gallery of Canada.

Arius soon attracted interest from European museums. European-based experts at Larson-Juhl frame the realistic 3D reproductions, which are printed by Netherlands-based printing partner Océ, a division of Canon.

Rather than coast on successes, Lindahl sought technology enhancements to attract more partners and address new markets. Naturally, Arius returned to trusted, valued sources: EUREKA and NRC IRAP.

"Going back to EUREKA was a no-brainer. It's centered on results, efficient reporting, and strong R&D funding levels that let corporate partners focus their other capital on vital business development and sales activities," says Lindahl. "However, the added complexity that comes from dealing with protecting intellectual property and working with an overseas organization makes it critical to have somebody as outstanding as Mehrzad in my corner."

Fine art of partnering

For the second EUREKA project, the Vancouver-based company partnered with Océ, which has been innovating for more than 140 years. "Being vetted as EUREKA-qualified and having a close relationship with the NRC provide increased credibility for young technology companies in garnering the confidence of industry giants like Océ," says Lindahl.

Having already excelled with historical masterpieces, both partners wanted to expand into the contemporary art world, a sizeable segment of the $63-billion-dollar art market.Footnote 1

While Arius could already scan the glossy varnish that often coats impressionist paintings, and Océ could print to a comparable gloss level, Arius needed a way to adjust its technology for a more matte finish, often required by contemporary artists. Arius and Océ researched technology options, and together selected a solution to adjust gloss levels, opening doors for both companies to meet the requirements of today's artists.

Finally, museums want increased scanning speeds to reduce the 'off the gallery wall' time, minimizing the impact on patrons who visit their collections. The other technology enhancement in this project involved halving the time required to scan works of art. Those savings will garner access to more masterpieces for Arius scans and Océ's elevated prints.

"Being vetted as EUREKA-qualified and having a close relationship with the NRC provide increased credibility for young technology companies in garnering the confidence of industry giants..."

Paul Lindahl, CEO, Arius Technology

Treasure trove of opportunities

3D art reproductions, printed by Océ, displayed at the National Gallery of Canada

Interest grew by November 2017, when the partners had completed the second EUREKA project on time. Arius has since been scanning works at the Tate in London, and from there the scanner moves to Luxembourg to scan private collections.

Today, Arius, Océ and Larson-Juhl together can deliver contemporary and historic art reproductions for private collectors who want to enjoy collections that are currently stored in secured vaults. Arius is also using that technology to work with contemporary artists. The artists create original art through the company's ElegraphTM printmaking process, which combines physical and digital mediums, resulting in 2.5D textured prints.

Innovation never stops for Arius. Up next, Arius will begin to research how its 3D scanning data could help museum partners use virtual reality to bring art to people who are unable to travel to experience the art. Innovation funding and advice from EUREKA and NRC IRAP, paired with Euro-Canadian technology partnerships, continue to present new dimensions for art, artists and art enthusiasts.

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