MoD and Hollywood deals help OMG post record profits

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The Independent Online

OMG, the company behind the motion-capture technology used to create the eye-boggling graphics for 3D film Beowulf and the upcoming The Golden Compass, has posted a record profit despite its substantial investment in two new start-up businesses over the past year.

OMG is the world's largest motion-capture technology company and its technology has previously won awards and plaudits for Gladiator and the Harry Potter films as well as state-of-the-art video games and advertisements. With sales of its Vicon "mo-cap" technology to the entertainment industry rising 43 per cent over the past year, the company has been able to shake off the effects of a weak dollar and its investment in new areas to report an 11 per cent rise in profit. Stripping out its investment in its new 3D roadside mapping and terrain analysis operations, OMG achieved a 50 per cent rise in profits to 3m.

The company looks set to continue to benefit from consumer demand for increasingly sophisticated animated films and games. Nick Bolton, chief executive of OMG, said: "The film industry is very excited about motion capture right now."

Mr Bolton is quick to point out that the company still derives most of its motion-capture revenue from its life sciences operations where the technology is used for everything from monitoring the movement of cerebral palsy sufferers and rehabilitating amputees to analysing the bowling action of Australian cricket players.

Analysts have homed in on the potential of OMG's new operations. Vicon is now being built into unmanned aerial vehicles being used to map terrain in areas like Afghanistan and Iraq after the company won two Ministry of Defence contracts worth a combined 600,000. Mr Bolton said that the technology enables far more sophisticated target tracking as it can process high-resolution images of terrain on the plane compared to existing web-cam based systems that relay low-grade images back to base.

Meanwhile, the company's Yotta division, which is developing 3D images of the UK's highways and coastlines for local councils and highway agencies, could have much wider reach with more consumers using online mapping information in mobile phones and satellite navigation systems according to Mr Bolton.

Lorne Daniel, an analyst at Arden Partners, said: "This is a very exciting company: yet another example of British inventiveness and technology leading the world." He said that while British companies have often "failed miserably" to commercialise world-leading technology, he is confident OMG is well on the way toward creating value from its "extraordinary brainpower".