Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could see how the furniture you saw in a magazine looks in your home space without even purchasing it? Well, that will be a reality. By using AR or Augmented Reality, Korea-based startup Odd Pilot is creating a real-time shopping experience. Odd Pilot offers a web platform that converts products to 3D images, helping the customer get a 360-degree view on how it would look.
In an interview with koreatechdesk.com, Jason Choi, CEO, Odd Pilot, shared how AR and VR is the future of online shopping.
1. Can you please describe your startup?
We are developing a platform to help furniture brands create Augmented Reality (AR) experiences for online shopping by providing tools to create 3D models and upload as 3D images. The web-viewer can also be embedded in different online sales channels such as e-commerce platforms, communities, etc. The web-viewer is HTML-based so it can be embedded on any webpage. The main feature is AR where you can place the 3D furniture on a real-life scale so the customer knows exactly how the furniture will fit in the space and whether it is suitable for their interior design.
2. Can you describe your company’s vision?
Our vision is to de-marketize the way people create AR content by lowering the barrier of price, and creating an AR content and providing a way to manage AR content with no expertise or coding skills.
3. How is the market opportunity in Korea?
In AR and VR there is a growing demand from the e-commerce market and furniture market. The AR and VR market is growing annually by around 45% so it’s a fast-growing market. We are targeting the home decor market which includes the furniture market. The first market segment is the Korean furniture market so we will start and then expand to Korean home décor and then to global home décor.
4. How much does the user have to pay for this product?
We have a subscription-based model and it’s based on how any furniture they upload. It’s a cloud service, like a dropbox, and costs $20 per month for a single item of furniture they upload. So, if they upload 100 furniture images it is $2000 a month. Usually, the furniture brands want to subscribe for a year, but a lot depends on the bandwidth because it can produce a lot of traffic sometimes.
5. Can you tell me about yourself? How did you come up with the idea?
I am the Founder of Odd Pilot. I majored in Graphic Design and mastered digital media so I was focused on AR, VR and physical computing during my masters. Then I worked at a company developing ILT platforms which gave me the experience of creating large scale platforms for big companies in Korea such as SKT. I also had experience and interest in retailing services, utilizing new technology and as a UX designer, I wanted to create a service using new media but at the same time providing high accessibility. That’s when I realized that if I use mobile AR, especially mobile web AR, it can be accessible.
6. How do you solve your own technology issues inside your company?
I know how to code, I taught myself how to code for a couple of years. I developed the prototype myself last year. I also attended a hackathon last year called Startup Weekend Soul which was a blockchain hackathon that gave me an idea to create a blockchain-based revenue distribution platform for musicians. I met some teammates there and we won the first prize. We then tried to develop the business with the blockchain platform idea and changed the course to AR. We have the same members now. I have 3 employees, 2 are developers and 1 is a designer.
7. What have you learned about AR furniture?
I have learned that a lot of furniture brands are interested in AR but there are two problems — one is that creating AR content is still expensive and needs human labor. That’s why we want to automate the AR content creating process so we can lower the price. Second, we differ from other providers because we offer our service as a web. But web-based AR is still in the experimental phase, both Apple and Google, it is still unstable. It is hard to stabilize the service because there are a lot of bugs and issues within the main source code which we can’t fix because we are using the API from Apple and Google.
8. What is your funding history?
We started the company by getting funded by the government last year in November. The funding is ending this month. We also got funded from a global acceleration program. We are also attending the Plugin Play Accelerator next month in Sunnyvale, USA, for a month where we will do a one-month program and do pitching and developing.
9. Is the plugin play selected by the Korean government?
Yes, the Korean government which is why it is for one month so we are not sure we will get a lot of success. So far, we have 2 government-funded programs. Other than that, we are waiting for two programs we have applied for and waiting for the results.
10. If you get investors, what’s your plan?
As we said, our vision is to de-marketize the way people create AR content and lower the price of creating AR content. That’s why we want to accelerate the time we can to achieve that goal and therefore we need funding to hire a couple of more developers with expertise in the 3D and AR field. Our goal is to automate the AR content creating process, we are probably 10% automation complete right now, but we want to achieve over 90% automation.
11. So what is your company’s core strength?
Our core strength is we are unifying the process of 3D, AR and VR content. People are creating 3D content, AR content, VR content — three methods and three formats. It is time-consuming and not unified. We are trying to create a way where it can be created once and then deployed in three formats so that’s our edge. The second is we are providing it as a web service, so we have higher accessibility as compared to companies that provide it as app service. These are our two competitive advantages.
12. It’s tough to get users and find clients nowadays. What is your marketing strategy to increase the number of users?
So our market adoption strategy is to partner with major remodeling companies in Korea such as Kumigi, Onergy, we are planning to work with them. We are at the same time planning to provide our APIS to home remodeling platforms or real estate platforms so they can use our services in their platforms.
13. How are you going to make your product independent and not rely on third parties?
That’s why we want to launch an automated version of WordPress CMS (Content Management System) but for the AR content so anyone can log in using vmail and they can drag and drop a video of their furniture. It can be automatically converted to AR content and use it as a YouTube video so it can be a standalone platform for like converting legacy formats such as photos and videos to a new media format.
14. About your client — how are you going to let older people use your service as it is tough for them to use these technologies?
Our customers are furniture brands and the end-user is the person who shops online. AR is not intuitive to use so we are planning to also provide VR features where furniture brands with a physical store can install it in their stores with oculus and other devices so anyone can visit the store. The furniture employee can help them show how to use the feature. We can stack like 1000 pieces of furniture inside the VR store without using the actual space.
15. Any words you want to share with your potential international user?
Our long-term goal is to launch an AR and VR based e-commerce platform. It will be something like Amazon but for AR ad VR so any brand can join our platform and upload their product in AR and VR rather than photos. We will launch the platform and anyone interested can come to our website and email and we can create products in AR and VR. I think it will be ready in two years.