Technology & innovation

Russian IT solution for real estate brokers, insurers and homegrown housing designers

4 Oct '15
Let’s take a look today at GeoCV, a Russian start-up developing an app to enable 3D modeling using 3D sensor equipped mobile devices. GeoCV’s crusade is to make 3D scanning available to any individual, a pro or layman. Applications for such modeling appear to be wide and include anything from housing design and realty services to insurance. The project owners from the Moscow State University alumni community have succeeded in bringing several VC investment rounds into their “baby” and are funneling the most recent August investment into preparations for their test sales in the U.S. and in Russia, to be launched later this fall, and into the further fine-tuning of their product. The international majors are also focused on the next generation of mobile visualization, for example, Google with its Project Tango or Intel with the RealSense effort, and so are a number of much smaller but hardly less ambitious start-ups based overseas. So, GeoCV may have formidable company to keep.

The Russian start-up has already tested the waters overseas. In late September, GeoCV showcased its solution in San Francisco to the visitors of a virtual reality pavilion at TechCrunch Disrupt, one of the world’s most renowned start-up focused events.

The entry-level GeoCV app is expected to enable 3D modeling for rooms and areas like offices, apartments, stores, etc. There’s obvious demand for such mobile software in the market, believes GeoCV CEO Anton Yakubenko, a Moscow State University alumnus.

“As of today, 3D scanning is a complex and costly process. With our solution, one doesn’t have to have specific skills or buy a special device—all he or she will need is a phone with our software installed,” Mr. Yakubenko said. He appears to see a bright future for its app with the advent of the next generation of mobile gadgets; for now, GeoCV is offering “special test devices,” the CEO said.

Broad horizons

The company is rolling out its beta version later this fall, for a limited group of customers to test the solution. Company representatives could do scanning themselves, just showing how the thing works, or could lend a potential client a scanner-equipped tablet with the GeoCV app for the customer to try his hand at doing models, and see how the product could help him in business.

Applications for the solution are wide, the developers say. For example, in the real estate segment where potential markets are real estate companies and individual agents, 3D visualization could be used to offer customers virtual tours of housing for rent or apartments for sale. This is expected to save time for both sellers and buyers.

3D modeling could also help in redesigning or repairing apartments, GeoCV further explains. The software can create a virtual prototype apartment, for the owner to ‘add’ furniture and other stuff to a final picture later on.

Another segment GeoCV is considering marketing its solution to is insurance. For example, currently, to get an insurance policy for a countryside house one has to wait until an agent physically comes to see how the property looks. Using the GeoCV app could enable house owners to make 3D images all on their own, and then simply email those to real estate offices.

These are the pilot areas for the company to start the testing of its app. Longer-term plans call for expansion, and GeoCV already appears to have faith in the imminent success of its software:

“In a near future, perhaps a couple of years from now, applications for our technology will be virtually unlimited. All we’re currently used to seeing on flat screens will eventually get upgraded to 3D. All or at least most of visualization vehicles will become three-dimensional, with augmented reality used far and wide. When that happens, you might want to create 3D content and move it from the physical world to the virtual one—no matter whether it’s just for safekeeping, or showcasing, or printing it out on a 3D printer—and with our technology you’re armed to do it fast and affordably.”

Global ambitions

The Russian start-up has raised considerable venture capital in several funding rounds. In the most recent deal that was closed back in August, Emery Capital and Starta Capital, two VC funds, meted out an initial $400,000 out of their overall $1.15m commitment.

The money will reportedly be used to support the launch of GeoCV’s test sales in the U.S. and in Russia, slated for October-November 2015, and also to further fine-tune the product.

According to Mr. Yakubenko, GeoCV is shooting for a share of the global market, coming on the heels of start-ups currently on a roll, like Matterport and Occipital. GeoCV believes its app works fast and precisely enough to give the Russian developer the edge over competitors with a high quality of 3D modeling.

Last month the Russian company qualified for the San Francisco-based River acceleration program, designed to help augmented and virtual reality project teams step up their commercialization strategies.
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