Interview by Martin Palicki and Judith Rubin
On June 1, 2022, software design and technology solutions provider 7thSense Design announced that industry veteran Bryan Hinckley was joining the company as Managing Director. Hinckley has served in a variety of roles at Electrosonic over the past 22 years, most recently as their Vice President of Strategic Accounts. Based in the Los Angeles area, Hinckley brings with him a wealth of industry knowledge and relationships. InPark spoke to Hinckley and to 7thSense’s Matt Barton (CEO/Owner) and Rich Brown (CTO/Owner) about the company’s growth and plans.
Founded in 2004 in the UK, 7thSense has grown into a prominent, international market leader – well known for its innovation in media servers but having rounded out its product line with complementary processing and control technologies – including the acquisition of Medialon in 2020, and of BlueBox Attractions in 2022. The company today provides state-of-the-art tools and technologies for the kind of storytelling and media delivery at the heart of today’s immersive, interactive guest experiences – and keeping a close eye on the future.
As opposed to acquiring companies and products, adding Bryan Hinckley to the 7thSense team is a pure human capital acquisition! How does it fit the longer-term strategy to grow and evolve the company?
Rich Brown: 7thSense is highly focused on innovation and people. Our business is as much about people as it is our products – both our customers and our team members.
We’ve seen significant growth over the past few years with strong Delta Media Server sales, the introduction of our Juggler® pixel processor, and our acquisition of the Medialon brand and show control product range. Bryan’s extensive experience and exceptional leadership skills are a welcome addition as we look to the next exciting chapter for 7thSense!
Matt Barton: Bryan has a lot of experience managing large teams and projects over multiple office locations. As a business, we’ve expanded to five office locations in the UK and USA recently – and now have a satellite office in Australia too. Bryan’s know-how in this area is really going to be valuable. As we continue to add new people to the team, develop and launch new solutions, and open more offices, having Bryan on the newly expanded board of directors will ensure we have a full set of skills and expertise to take 7thSense onto the next step in its journey.
We pride ourselves on working with an incredible global network of resellers, distributors, integrators and creative partners. As Bryan comes from a long-term, and highly valued customer of ours [Electrosonic], he has a great understanding of what integrators look for and can help us to continue to provide exceptional levels of innovation and service to our customers. Rich and I recognize that Bryan joins our team with these same values.
How does Bryan fit into the leadership structure of the company?
Rich: As Managing Director, Bryan will lead our Board of Directors, reporting to myself and Matt – taking the reins of the business with a focus on our customers and strategic growth.
Matt: Rich and I will remain very much actively involved in the business – dedicated to planning for the future and new technology development as we work closely with customers and support our global team.
Where did your acquaintance begin, and how has your relationship developed to this point?
Rich: We have known Bryan since the early days of 7thSense, working on exciting, technically demanding attractions and themed entertainment projects for Electrosonic.
As with a lot of the projects 7thSense supplies products to, we are always pushing the boundaries on capabilities and features. Bryan has always been incredibly supportive as a customer, recognizing the fast-paced environments that we work in, and the support that 7thSense brings to our customers.
Bryan Hinckley: I have a background in theater and one of the things that theater people know is “the show must go on!” This mantra has always been at the heart of 7thSense’s approach to project delivery. As the technical brains and power behind the show or attraction, the 7thSense culture fosters a passion for performance and values the importance of product and service reliability that our team provides to the industry.
What are some of the projects you’ve done together over the years?
Rich: There are so many! Sadly, most sit under the strict veil of a non-disclosure agreement, but there’ve been many fantastic world-renowned brands! To mention just a few – we’ve collaborated on projects for Kennedy Space Center, One World Trade Center, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and Expo 2020 Dubai.
Matt: We’ve worked with Electrosonic on well over 100 attractions from Japan, Beijing and London to Shanghai, Orlando, Dubai and everywhere in between.
Why is now the right time for Bryan to be joining the 7thSense team?
Bryan: I have a passion for the technology that powers memorable experiences. 7thSense creates and builds the engines that power many of the top attractions, museums and immersive experiences around the world and I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate on many of these projects with 7thSense over the years. I’ve worked with 7thSense for a long time and have always been impressed by their industry-leading customer service, innovative products, and the incredible talent on their team.
As 7thSense launches the next generation of products and several game-changing solutions, I’m honored to help lead this effort as the company continues to grow and evolve.
Rich: Bryan joins our board to strengthen the exceptional team that we have in place already. 7thSense has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, with multiple product launches across new and existing market segments. As we move into 2023, we are thrilled to be lining up some exciting new product announcements making this the right time for Bryan to join our team.
Matt: Bryan brings a commercial background and skillset to the board that ensures we have a well-rounded team of directors ready to strategically serve the business direction that we plan for the future.
What new products and capabilities are on the horizon for 7thSense?
Rich: We’ve spent the last 19 years developing and evolving our product range and solutions – looking at how our customers want to use the products that we have so that we can develop features that they want, and help solve the challenges they’re faced with. Over the past couple of years we’ve doubled down on development and we’re excited to soon be revealing the fruits of that effort.
Gaming engine platforms play a growing role in what we’re doing as we look ahead. As we bring together media servers, gaming engines, Medialon show control and Juggler pixel processing into a single workflow, we will bring huge benefits to our customers in many areas.
Matt: We have a lot on the horizon – with some major launches set for early 2023. Think Virtual Production, new hardware, new software releases, multi-platform solutions, next generation video distribution technologies and multi-user cross product programming!
How big is the company now, and where are offices located? Where will Bryan operate?
Matt: We have approximately 70 staff (and counting!) worldwide. Our company HQ remains in the South Downs National Park in Sussex, UK, but we now also have offices in London, Detroit and Orlando, as well as a growing team in Burbank and a satellite and support office in Melbourne, Australia.
We also have a great network of distribution partners in China, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand that we very much consider to be part of the 7thSense team.
Bryan will be based with our Burbank team in California, but there’s plenty of travel in the cards, as is very much normal for folks working in this industry! As we move forward, and take this next step for 7thSense – there’s going to be more growth, led by Bryan and the board, so watch this space as we continue to expand.
How is 7thSense positioned for the future?
Rich: We are constantly looking into how best to solve problems for our customers, and how we need to adapt our product range to stay ahead of the curve. We’re strongly invested in next-generation video infrastructure, for example, with all of our product ranges now supporting SMPTE ST 2110. This in itself was a move to solve customer problems, by shifting video output infrastructure to a next-generation, network-based industry-standard, which in-turn results in reduced infrastructure costs and increased remote monitoring capabilities for the customer.
Matt: Bryan will be positioned to lead the company to continue to innovate and ensure we have the right tools that allow our creative users and integration customers to solve their problems, tell their stories and bring their projects to life.
We are always adding the very latest capabilities, and leading the way for our customers. Our global office, support and distribution partner network already provides the geographical coverage for our customer base, but this will also continue to expand as we move forward.