Hexagon acquires Luciad for real-time sensor integration

Oct 4, 2017 | Hot Topics

Hexagon today announced that it has acquired Luciad, a Belgian software company that makes solutions for visualizing and analyzing real-time geospatial data. Luciad was spun out of the University KU Leuven (like LMS and countless others) in 1999 as an open solution for spatial data manipulation.

Luciad’s advanced visual analytics are marketed by subsidiaries and resellers but are also incorporated by systems integrators into their own products. For example, one investor lists Airbus Defence & Space, Boeing, Dassault, Lufthansa Systems, NATO and Unifly as being customers.

That investor is Gimv, a European private equity and venture capital firm that manages around €1.6 billion of investments in about 50 portfolio companies. Gimv initially invested in Luciad in 2013, funding expansion of Luciant’s products from desktop-only to web-based, and into 3D visualizations. Gimv’s announcement of the deal said that “Luciad will become a fully owned subsidiary of Hexagon and will operate under its Geospatial division. The company’s products perfectly combine with the offering from Hexagon. Therefore, we see Hexagon as the right partner to unlock the full potential of Luciad’s technology”. Luciad has a staff of 100 that support 100,000 users of its technology, and revenue of €16 million.according to Hexagon.

Luciad creates visualizations and analytics that include dynamic sensor feeds in a 3D environment. I learned of a practical example at SAP’s SAPPHIRE earlier this year: a farm manager instruments his fields to monitor rainfall and then reviews that data to figure out where he needs to supplement with irrigation, where it’s damp enough to fertilize without irrigation and so on. (Can you tell I’m a city kid? And so on … weak.) Overlaying that sensor data onto a map that also plugs into what crops are planted in which field, the weather forecast, soil specifics and other data that lets the manager plan the efficient use of inputs, equipment and people. There’s no point spending money and valuable water to irrigate a field that should see rain within the next few hours. On the other hand, crop protection products would be wasted if they’re applied before rain — they’d just wash into the ground.

Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollén gives a bigger picture view: “This acquisition strengthens Hexagon’s ability to deliver smart digital realities, enhancing our Smart M.App platform with 3D, 4D (real-time sensor feed integration) and 5D (dynamic analytics) capabilities. The ability to rapidly integrate sensor data in a visually compelling environment provides the geospatial location intelligence and situational awareness necessary for mission critical operations.”

Hexagon says Luciad will be fully consolidated as of today, in its Geospatial division. No financial details on the acquisition were given by Hexagon or Gimv.

One comment: Luciad works now with geospatial data. But I don’t really see that there’s a difference between this type of data and any other — why couldn’t this platform be expanded to bridge monitoring for civil structures and to machine monitoring for manufacturing lines? It’ll be interesting to see if/how/when Hexagon expands Luciad’s platform into its other end-markets.

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