RIT grads color your world

You’re planning to spruce up your bedroom with fresh paint and new wall coverings, but you’re undecided about color and pattern. You also need a new garage door, but you can’t imagine what style would look best.

Software developed by two RIT grads can help you make up your mind. In fact, you may have used their “virtual design tools” on the Web sites of many leading home product companies.

Michael Brunzell ’91 (printing management) and Andrew Jenks ’92 (photo tech) are the founders of Swatchbox Technologies, creator of unique visualization software. It allows homeowners to try different colors or products on photographic room scenes on the Web. To take the concept further, consumers can obtain a version of the software to run on their personal computers with photos of their own homes.

“Our graphic arts education as well as our experience with photography, prepress, and printing led us down the path of photo-realistic imaging for the consumer,” says Brunzell, vice president for sales and marketing. “We specialize in allowing the consumer to see real products on their own images. It creates a very personal experience for the user and ties them to our clients’ brands. We just sold our millionth copy of the ‘use your own image’ software.”

Brunzell and Jenks – who didn’t know each other in their RIT student days – met when they were both working for Leaf Systems Inc., a leader in professional digital imaging. Brunzell left Leaf and joined Sinar Bron Imaging, where he became national sales manager.

In 1996, both left their jobs to start a company called ei software. Originally, the company specialized in the training and integration of photo studios, prepress companies and printers that were adopting the new high-resolution digital cameras.

In 2000, ei software introduced its first color rendering software, which became Sherwin-Williams Painting Images. Since then, the company has developed customized software for clients including Armstrong World Industries, Alcoa Home Exteriors, Benjamin Moore & Co., Dupont Corian, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Mohawk Flooring, Pittsburgh Paints, Raynor Garage Doors and many others.

The company is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the launch of a new name: SwatchBox Technologies.

“SwatchBox is going to continue to create consumer-focused decorating tools that are photo realistic and easy to use. We felt that the new name better represents what we do,” says Brunzell.

The University Magazine, Fall 2006