Phil Castle, The Business Times
Robert and Stephen Madsen live the dream of avid game developers in creating their own products and bringing them to market.
But the father-and-son team also take a practical approach to their Grand Junction studio and have remained in business by providing services to clients to help them create games as well. And now the Madsens have further diversified their operation in applying gaming development techniques and technology to a nongaming industry.
The colloboration has broader implications for what could become a growing tech sector, Stephen says.
“We all want to really evolve tech in the Grand Valley.”
The Madsens operate SynapticSwitch, bringing their seperate experiences in computer programming and game develop into their combined venture. Robert serves as studio director, while Stephen serves as lead software engineer.
Robert holds a degree in computer science and has worked for more than 30 years as a programmer. He previously worked for MumboJump and Other Ocean Interactive in creating such games as “Luxor,” “Dark Void Zero” and “Globe: Earth Explorer.”
Stephen has 15 years of experience as a programmer, the last 10 in the gaming industry. He also worked for Other Ocean Interactive and hel[ed create such games as “Diner Dash,” “Chocolatier” and “Sour Patch Kids Sour Fling.”
SynapticSwitch has developed its own games — the studio expects to release in Februry a game titled “Day of Destruction” that empowers players with alien technology to destroy and conquer. But Robert estimates the company derives about 80 percent of its business from services it provides clients.
The Madsens say SynapticSwitch can handles one or two aspects of game development or take on entire projects. SynapticSwitch offers services related to art and audio as well as coding, design and production. The studio has worked on games played on a variety of platforms, including personal computers and smartphones.
SynapticSwitch also has long worked with games offering virtual reality and has developed a reputation for its services on games offering an immersive, three-dimensional experience, Robert says. “We jumped on it right at the beginning.”
In fact, one client described Synaptic Switch as the best small studio in the country handling virtual reality, he says.
The Madsens expect to take advantage of that expertise in yet another venture that expands their operation beyond the gaming industry. They moved SynapticSwitch from the Business Incubator Center to the offices of ProStar Geocorp in Grand Junction to help ProStar render its geospatial information software and services in three dimensions.
ProStar Geocorp combines geographic information systems and data to offer software and services to the pipeline and utility industries. The software and services help customers manage infrastructure, whether it’s displaying, collecting, storing or using information about the location of pipelines, fiber optic cables or other facilities. ProStar offers technology that in some cases is accurate to within inches.
ProStar has been working with Microsoft HoloLens headsets and other augmented reality technology to display information in three-dimensions. The technology will enable planners and engineers to see what projects designed in two dimensions look like in three. Crews working in the field will see buried pipelines and other infrastructure as though they possessed X-ray vision.
Page Tucker, president and chief executive officer of ProStar Geocorp, says the techniques and services SynapticSwitch has developed for the gaming industry also applies to his industry and other real-world applications.
Tucker envisions a pilot program to make Grand Junction a so-called smart city. It’s possible to use satellite imagery and ProStar technology to create a detailed three-dimensional digital map of Grand Junction that includes everything above ground as well as the infrastructure underground, he says. That information then could be used for a variety of purposes, including speeding emergency response and better managing natural disasters to building predictive computer models.
In the meantime, Tucker says the collaboration between SynapticSwitch and ProStar Geocorp reflects the potential to establish what he says could become a technology hub in Grand Junction.
Robert says he excited to work with ProStar. “It’s the perfect company to jump start the next thing.”
For more information about SynapticSwitch, log on to www.SynapticSwitch.com.