Apache, the award-winning development studio for extraordinary interactive experiences in AR/VR, is proudly celebrating its three decade milestone.
The company collaborates with some of the most well-known IPs and brands in the world and has helped inspire and advance interactive marketing for iconic brands and organisations including Disney, Marvel, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, the United Nations, Cartoon Network, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and others.
However, the studio began its life in 1991 when Founder Adam Vahed branched off from iconic music company Simmons Electronics, where he had been hired as an engineer after creating the world’s first digital drum sampler (the SDS-EPB) at the age of 17.
Upon launch, Vahed put aside his earlier fixation on punk and electronic music to launch the first iteration of Apache with a focus on computer consulting and both hardware and software development – teaming with fellow Simmons alumni Steve Watts.
In a fascinating assignment, Apache was brought on to design an automated cow milking and cattle recognition system.
The system Apache devised was an early adopter of the now common RFID chip, which was embedded in a cow’s collar and told the milking system how much that individual had eaten, its medical supplement and other information that would dictate how much milk was drawn on a given day.
Additionally, on the hardware side of the milking device, a lot of attention was paid to the comfort of the cow, and the apparatus would pull more from the rear than the front of the udder to ease the burden.
This system was in place for 20 years at many large-scale dairy farms and is still likely in use today.
Apache also designed one of the first barcode printers for retail and food application, designing a reliable 24/7 printer that could print on formerly difficult packaging like cassette tape wrapping and to-go snack packaging.
In the late 90s, Apache made the full-time leap to the burgeoning industry of web development before Vahed’s innate radar for the “next big thing” started to ping once again.
True to form, Vahed transitioned Apache to augmented reality in 2008, spotting the potential in the blocky and crude existing applications as a potential revolution in experiential interactions across every platform.
As he had done throughout his career, Vahed would reverse engineer from the future to the present, augmenting existing technologies with his own adaptations and pushing the boundaries of what was possible.
Just as with Simmons Electronics, experimentation garnered larger attention. Apache was quickly working with gaming companies like Ubisoft on a driving experience for Driver: San Francisco and a garment-centric Magic Mirror for shopping hub The Trafford Centre was flagged for exploration by Disney.
That exploration led to Become Iron Man, an interactive body tracking and gesture experience that set a new standard and created a feeding frenzy for their technology adaptation.
From that point, Apache would be immersed in the world of Hollywood studio IP that they have become known for.
“What a long, exciting trip it’s been,” said Vahed. “I wouldn’t change anything for the world, as it’s given me the opportunity to work across several industries and expand how I view the world and the technology leading it.
“Apache wouldn’t have made it this far without the amazing team here, who have been with me for decades-plus in some cases and continue to impress me on a daily basis.
“They are the foundation, the inspiration for the company and for myself. We look forward to…not another thirty years, because I hope to retire by then, but at least another twenty.”