Videos Games and Dental Technology: Finding an Unlikely Ally
Featuring Martin Jajam
Beyond being one of the coldest cities in the world, Winnipeg, Canada, is also the hometown of Glidewell Dental’s computer-aided design (CAD) software development manager, Martin Jajam.
Growing up in an environment that resembles the Arctic tundra meant finding ways to keep the mind occupied. In Martin’s case, his distraction from the cold was computers.
By the age of nine, he knew how to program. At 11, he was already developing small PAC-MAN-type games. With great mentors and teachers by his side, he continued to sharpen his skill set throughout high school.
After graduation, Martin enrolled at the University of Winnipeg, where he received a degree in biology. There, he found innovative ways to incorporate computer science into his studies. His unique approach of merging the two disciplines together led to some of his scholarly work being published on the use of computer-intensive statistics in ecology.
When it was time to choose a career path, Martin felt compelled to pursue his first love: video games. He spent the next 17 years in the gaming industry, which he describes as tough, yet fulfilling work. Eventually though, the whole allure started to disappear for him.
Using a series of cameras, Martin scans a picture of himself into his editing software. By using design elements like color, lighting, and transparency, he is able to shape the image to whatever outcome he chooses.
Creating New Technologies at Glidewell
Three years ago, Martin decided it was time to take on a new challenge. Using his experience in the gaming industry, he hit the ground running as a leader on Glidewell Dental’s software development team for a new ray tracing project. This computer graphics technique is commonly seen in elaborate car commercials, where vehicles zoom around beautiful, winding terrains without drivers.
“Glidewell is using the same technology used for special effects in TV and movies to innovate the dental industry. It’s been exciting to bridge this technology over to doctors and patients for real-life results,” Martin remarks.
Recently, Martin and his team worked on building the foundation for the fastdesign.io™ Digital Ecosystem, the company’s in-house, easy-to-use software tool and communications system created for the glidewell.io™ Solution.
Using artificial intelligence, the software sifts through Glidewell’s expansive collection of restoration data in a matter of milliseconds. Fastdesign.io Software then auto-proposes the perfect crown for a doctor’s patient based on the scan created with their iTero Element® Intraoral Scanner.
Among other fascinating developments, the software also allows the dentist to manipulate the 3-D image to their desired effect, whether that’s by shrinking, growing, or texturing certain elements of the design, should they want to.
Better yet, fastdesign.io also provides a direct portal to the lab, where doctors can receive additional support, prescribe lab-made restorations, and easily communicate with Glidewell Laboratories. For Martin, the design is all about simplicity and convenience.
Contributing to an Innovative Culture
During his three years at Glidewell, Martin says he’s most impressed by the people working around him, the amount of innovation happening at the company, and the leaders who help drive results.
“When you go from game development to another industry, you expect the technology to often be ten years behind. However, that was not the case, coming to Glidewell. I’m working with an impressive group of people who, from the interview process, made me feel like I had a lot to learn. That’s one of the reason I wanted to work here,” Martin conveys, as he reflects on his decision to leave gaming.
Martin credits Glidewell’s founder and CEO, Jim Glidewell, for the company’s innovative mentality.
“He has incredible passion, and an approach to business that never stagnates. He’s created an innovative work culture. If you have something to add to the company, propose it. You’ll always be met by someone who is ready to listen,” he says.
Staying Passionate About Software Engineering
These past three years at Glidewell have been enjoyable for Martin. He feels at home in a tech department that carries a “built from the ground up by engineers” vibe. He closes by offering some advice to others looking to work at a company like Glidewell.
“There’s one base quality of being an engineer that will make or break you. You don’t have to be the smartest person on the planet, or the best person at math. What you do need is a relentless, dogmatic approach to problem-solving that causes you to not take your hands off the keyboard until the puzzle is finished. And you have to love what you’re doing,” he reveals.
Martin seems to exemplify the qualities he mentions. From speaking about his drive to learn more about computer programming as a child, to the work he’s doing now, it’s clear that he loves what he does. He’s a great example of one of the many people who are continuing to build and solidify Glidewell’s bright future in dental technology.