BrightView Technologies Is Durham’s Solution for Engineered Optics

BrightView Technologies is based in Durham.

When a group of investors licensed some intellectual property from Duke University and founded BrightView Technologies in 2002, they might not have imagined what the company would become today.

Back then, the startup was working on components for rear-screen projection TVs. Before 2008, they had raised $30 million. But when the Great Recession hit and that market began to evaporate, BrightView was acquired by Richmond-based Tredegar Corporation in 2010. 

That’s when BrightView’s current CEO Jennifer Aspell came on board. Today, the company is creating an ecosystem of visual intelligence at the intersection of digital and physical perception. The applications are numerous: VR, enhanced displays, holographs, light detection and ranging, and even self-driving cars.

“As this metaverse and the Internet of Things starts to evolve, whether it’s autonomous vehicles or gesture recognition or virtual reality, all of these machines need a way to perceive their environment,” Aspell said. “And conversely, humans need a way to interact with these machines.”

That’s where BrightView comes in to serve large global tech companies, whether they’re in consumer electronics, automotive or lighting spaces. With well over 200 customers and 50 employees, BrightView Technologies has definitely seen its fair share of growth, alongside some necessary pivots.

Jennifer Aspell, BrightView Technologies CEO

During the pandemic, for example, BrightView took advantage of the fact it had the raw materials and equipment to produce personal protective equipment. Because of this, for around six months early in the pandemic, the company was one of few actively hiring, in its case so that it could manufacture face shields.

“Be able to be pretty flexible,” Aspell said. “I think the pandemic taught everyone that the best-laid plans can be undone at a moment’s notice.”

As an RTP-headquartered company, BrightView Technologies has benefited from the technical talent in the Triangle region, Aspell said. Major universities like NC State have also provided BrightView access to laboratories, furthering the company’s goal of launching a major industrial revolution.

“We want to enable the next generation’s fourth industrial revolution,” Aspell said. “We’re on the brink of a technology revolution that’s going to alter the way we live, work and relate to one another.”

Aspell said BrightView Technologies is a high-growth company, so the future looks especially bright.

Last month, for example, the company was featured as a “Hero in Manufacturing” in a video series by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership. But there’s much more planned in the company’s future trajectory.

“We want to continue to grow, to introduce new products,” Aspell said, “and to really to become a dominant player in the world of visual intelligence, to help enable next-generation applications and really push this idea of virtual reality or self-driving cars or three-dimensional displays forward.”

About Suzanne Blake 335 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. Before working at GrepBeat, Suzanne attended UNC Chapel Hill, obtaining a degree in journalism and political science. Previously, she wrote for CNBC, QSR Magazine, FSR Magazine and The Daily Tar Heel.