Imverse, a Geneva-based B2B2C company providing volumetric pixel (voxel) solutions, has secured USD 4.8 million to develop its software platform, expand its team and roll out its products globally. The pre-Series A round was led by Ariel Luedi’s Hammer Team, including HTC and Logitech. Other significant investors are DAA Capital Partners, ACE & Company, XCEL NEXT, and Ivo Petrov. We interviewed Imverse’s CEO and Co-Founder Javier Bello Ruiz to learn more about his entrepreneurial path and the future of VR in the Metaverse.
The CES2021 Best-of-Innovation award winner has created a game-changing solution for volumetric content and live holograms. Its technology uses a proprietary voxel graphics engine that is capable of live capture, rendering, and streaming of multiple holograms in real-time for telepresence* applications. This is in contrast to polygons which currently dominate the virtual and augmented reality space. As a result, Imverse can create full-body volumetric humans at the fraction of the cost, without industrial cameras, or powerful computing equipment, and with low latency. This enables the delivery of volumetric content at the same rate as mainstream video conferencing technology such as Zoom or Teams.
Imverse’s technology has a host of use cases including virtual teleconferencing, immersive education, healthcare, gaming, and the Metaverse. The startup is currently focusing on enterprise solutions.
Imverse Holo enables creators and businesses to set up multi-camera systems for live volumetric video capture with no need for green screens or cloud services. It is currently compatible with between one and ten Microsoft Azure Kinect cameras connected to a single PC, enabling both real-time and recorded holograms. Features include 3D videoconferencing, holoportation, and holographic calls. Holoportation, allows remote virtual work, collaboration, and real-time interactive 3D content creation and consumption. It also enables producers and consumers to edit, interact, and manipulate content in real-time. This is the foundation of highly personalized virtual experiences where people can control nearly every aspect of the content they consume. In addition, it will significantly reduce production costs.
In the past year, Imverse has secured a number of partnerships with some of the world’s largest technology companies and expanded its operations to France.
Javier Bello Ruiz, co-founder and CEO of Imverse, said: “For the Metaverse to become a reality we need to overcome a lot of technical hurdles. One of the biggest challenges is making producing 3D content affordable and accessible to everyday consumers and businesses. This is why we believe our voxel breakthrough is so significant. It opens the door to a huge range of new applications, including, for the first time, multiple holograms streaming in real-time. All people need is a few Kinect cameras and a PC and our technology does the rest.
“With this funding, we’ll be able to significantly ramp up the rollout and expansion of our software platform and our partnership network.”
Ariel Luedi, Founder of Hammer Team, said: “What Imverse has achieved so far is nothing short of phenomenal. My team and I are excited to offer our experience and support the company along their journey in turning this gem of technology into a game-changing product offering.”
We interviewed Imverse’s CEO and Co-Founder Javier Bello Ruiz to learn more about his entrepreneurial path and the future of VR in the Metaverse.
Javier, how will the € 4.6 million-investment from Ariel Ludi Hammer Team, HTC and Logitech help achieve your vision?
IMVERSE will use the proceeds to further expand its engineering bandwidth and add product, marketing and business development resources ahead of the release of its real-time volumetric video solutions targeting first the Enterprise and Entertainment verticals with strategic partners later this year.
You won Venture Kick in 2017. How did it help you lay the foundation for your growth and today’s achievement?
The Venture Kick recognition literally put us on the map. It generated visibility around the technology and our long-term vision to democratize volumetric video. No doubt it also helped catalyze initial interest from investors for our seed round in 2018.
You also participated in Venture Leaders Technology in 2018 and were selected for the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Awards from 2018 to 2021. How did it leverage your fundraising strategy?
Outside of Big Tech companies, the Swiss XR startup ecosystem was relatively small when we started. It has grown since yet it is still not, what you might call, a focus sector for investors. To find ourselves among the Venture Leaders and the top 100 Swiss Startups for 4 successive years gave our technology and Imverse not only validation but the forum to interact, exchange, and learn from others, including investors.
When, and what, was your inspiration to found IMVERSE?
While working at the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience led by Prof. Olaf Blanke in EPFL as 3D graphics and XR engineers, Robin Mange (co-founder & CTO) and I came to the realization that presence, agency, interactivity, and the ability to integrate your own body are key to VR/AR/MR experiences. Our vision from the very beginning has been twofold – enabling holoportation in real-time at scale and democratizing the core technologies needed to bring reality live into the Metaverse, powered by, what we believe, is the future of live 3D graphics – voxels.
What is your advice for the potential AR/VR/MR tech entrepreneurs launching companies in Switzerland today?
We are still a startup and I am certainly not in a position to offer advice but I will speak from our experience. Entrepreneurship is a calling and it is a life choice. It certainly won’t be easy and there will be sacrifices in the process. Despite the challenging times and the current Macro environment, there is no better time to start an XR company. The digital future is Live, it is 3D and it is Interactive so…the future is yours!
While Switzerland is a great country to launch a deep tech startup thanks to EPFL & ETHZ and the availability of early-stage funding, for an AR/VR/MR startup, it is crucial to think globally from the beginning – establishing relationships with global big tech companies and customers, and understanding the relevance of the US and Asian markets that are, in many ways, ahead of Europe in the journey to the Metaverse, including later-stage funding.
Last Year at the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award Night, we used your hologram technology to broadcast the Master of Ceremony in various rooms.
How do you think AR/VR/MR will change the way we work and live in the future and how many years will it take to get it fully adopted in our daily lives?
AR/VR/MR will be an essential part of our lives. Many people are waiting for the “killer” app, but, like the early days of the Internet, the Live 3D future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed…yet. All things we do in our lives today will have a version in the Metaverse, and an enhanced one in many cases. Within the next 5 years, we will experience a clear acceleration across all verticals – from enterprise to entertainment and various consumer use cases.
How do you see the growth our the Metaverse in 10 years?
It will be as natural and essential as the Internet or Smartphones are today.
Imverse is a software company with the vision to power the real-time Metaverse.
Our proprietary 3D graphics VOXEL engine is capable of real-time capture, rendering and streaming of multiple human h… Read more