Veteran Award Winning E-Learning Studio Combines with Austin edTech Gaming Startup

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Enspire Learning, Inc. and sonarDesign, Inc. combine forces to take on the challenge of creating immersive, interactive learning at affordable prices

sonarDesign combines forces with Enspire Learning


It may seem odd for a custom developer to encourage their clients to do their own work

Enspire Learning and sonarDesign have combined forces to create a Next Gen digital studio. The studio is focused on providing interactive e-learning and simulations to new employees entering the workforce that have grown up surrounded by high production value video games.

“Companies need e-learning with engaging interactivity, but they can't afford it,” explains Mary Maltbie, CEO of Austin-based Enspire. “E-learning projects start out with the desire for simulations, but training budgets are small, so interactivity ends up on the cutting room floor.” Having earned official designation as a leading gamification company through Training Industry for the past three years, Enspire was looking for a platform that would enable it to create immersive, interactive learning at a fraction of the typical development cost. “We’ve been looking for an unfair competitive advantage, and knew we had found it after our first meeting with sonarDesign,” says Bjorn Billhardt, Founder and Chairman of Enspire. “The sonarDesign platform is remarkable in its ability to use smart, reusable components to take e-learning to another level.”

sonarDesign was founded in 2012 on a mission to make it quick and easy to create interactive learning experiences. “Writing rich interactive content in JavaScript is slow and difficult, but trying to make it accessible and look identical on all devices is nearly impossible,” says Adrian Penn, an award winning animator and VP of Product at sonarDesign. sonarDesign’s platform is a complete JavaScript game engine and editor with a robust timeline animation system that includes hierarchy, nesting, events, and actions. sonarDesign allows instructional designers and animators to easily create high-end educational simulations and games in HTML5 that look identical on any device.

“I’ve spent most of my career building hit video games and studios,” says Jerry Bowerman, founding CEO of sonarDesign. “To be successful, we knew we it meant creating a complete game studio from scratch. A technology team that creates an engine is different than the team that makes the hit game. That’s where the match with Enspire came into play.”

Enspire has deep experience and understanding of the learning market, having built award-winning courses and simulations for organizations like the University of Texas, the World Bank, Harvard Business School, GE, and many other Fortune 500 clients. Combining sonarDesign’s technology and Enspire’s expertise, the studio can now create and quickly iterate high-end animations and simulations, while giving clients full access to modify the finished product.

The studio is building high-interactivity templates that clients can use to adapt to their specific needs. Companies looking for high-end simulations can simply license the authoring platform, allowing their designers to create interactive lessons from templates. “It may seem odd for a custom developer to encourage their clients to do their own work,” Mr. Billhardt added, “but we truly see ourselves as partners and enjoy using our team to push the limits of the platform.” The game industry has been doing this for decades and proven licensing technology alongside creative design as a viable model.

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Mary Maltbie
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