Techopia Live: Fast-growing FRAMOS eyes embedded vision opportunities

In this week’s season premiere, Techopia Live turned its camera on a company that’s itself quite familiar with lenses and sensors. We heard from FRAMOS, a German firm with a growing Ottawa presence, about how the company is developing the next generation of vision technology.

Chris Barrett, who earned his Ottawa tech stripes at firms such as Nortel and Pleora, joined FRAMOS in May of this year as vice-president of engineering. He told Techopia Live that the prospect of building the future of imaging technology inspired him to take on the job.

“Where is vision going? I’m going to be a bit glib and say, ‘everywhere.’ … It’s really everything you can imagine,” he said.

At the core of FRAMOS’ work these days is the concept of embedded vision, where a computer’s processing power plugs directly into a device’s sensor. This tech enables autonomous vehicles to understand their surroundings and make decisions, allows drones to fly themselves and helps robotic vacuums identify what they’re cleaning.

“Embedded vision is where the sensor and the CPU are close together and they can take action together,” Barrett said. Put another way, it helps robots understand what they’re seeing and act on it.

FRAMOS develops a variety of components for these robotic systems. It then helps companies integrate vision tech into their own products. Barrett says it’s an exciting time to work at the company because customers are walking in every week with a new challenge, hoping to equip their products with embedded vision.

FRAMOS has even helped a local startup, Ottawa’s Klashwerks, to develop its sensor-based connected car technology.

While the bulk of FRAMOS’ work remains in Germany, its Ottawa outpost is growing quickly. With more than a dozen employees in the capital today, the firm earned an honourable mention on OBJ’s fastest-growing companies in 2017 with three-year revenue growth of nearly 4,000 per cent.

Chris Barrett
FRAMOS vice-president of engineering Chris Barrett. Photo by Craig Lord.

Barrett says the Ottawa location has been good to FRAMOS. It’s a convenient hub in the same time zone as New York and not far from California, he said.

As we’ve heard before on Techopia Live from Ottawa companies such as Lumenera, the capital has a bit of an expertise in imaging tech. Barrett says that when the firm landed here a few years ago, it was able to scoop up talent with more than a decade of experience in cameras and sensors.

“It’s an outstanding spot to pull talent in and build the company,” he said.

To hear more about the applications for FRAMOS’ embedded vision technology, watch the video above.