Featured Startup Pitch: Personify’s ‘Personify Live’ utilizes Microsoft Kinect or other depth-sensing technology to transform remote presentations

By Editor January 3, 2013
Personify logo

Personify logoCompany: Personify

Website: www.personifyinc.com/live

Founder: Sanjay Patel

Year Founded: 2009

Headquarters: Champaign, Illinois and Chicago

Investors: Illinois Ventures, AMD Ventures, Liberty Global Ventures

Twitter: @PersonifyInc

Facebook: www.facebook.com/personifyinc

Company Description: Personify is the startup behind Personify Live, the first web conferencing tool that overlays real-time video of the presenter onto a slideshow, video conference, webinar or any other setting.

By Sanjay Patel, CEO and co-founder

Product Overview

Personify Live, the flagship product from Personify Inc., was launched in November 2012. With Personify Live, real-time video of a presenter can be overlaid onto any desktop background, including a PowerPoint or photo slideshow. All that is required is a depth-sensing camera like the Microsoft Kinect. Personify’s proprietary patent-pending User Extraction technology snips a person’s image out of any background and transplants him or her into a new environment, in real time. No green screen required! The presenter can interact with the content, changing slides with a simple hand gesture. Personify Live’s service comes with an accompanying mobile app for iPhone and Android that serves as a remote control for the presentation, allowing the presenter to control the presentation away from the keyboard.

Using Personify Live, an individual can lead a virtual presentation from anywhere, in a one-to-one or one-to-many setting, and all presentations can be recorded, shared and stored in the cloud. Personify Live works with traditional web conferencing and collaboration tools such as Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype and join.me. With Personify Live, it’s like you’re really there.

Founder’s Story

Before Personify I was the chief technology officer at Ageia, the company that introduced the world’s first physics processing unit for PC gaming. Shortly after Ageia, I started working with PrimeSense, the company that develops the technology powering the Microsoft Kinect, even before Kinect was a product. I was beyond impressed with the technology and realized it could be used outside of the gaming space. In fact, it was clear to me that it would have a big impact on the way people communicated with video.

We founded Personify (originally named Nuvixa) in 2009 and created a concept product that could be used for Web conferencing and online meetings. We launched this concept product in 2011 and quickly found some serious resonance for use with sales, marketing, training and education. We had several notable organizations sign up as beta users—including SAP, the University of Illinois and Infobright. The concept product morphed into Personify Live, which we officially launched in November 2012.

Apart from my work with Personify, I am also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The early technology of Personify was spun out of a research effort that started at the university.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

Personify Live was developed for business-to-business communication, for enhancing online sales and marketing. Personify Live allows a presenter or speaker to connect with his or her audience by delivering a more engaging presentation with a more authentic, personal touch. This connection gives sales and marketing teams a critical edge that makes them more effective at creating and closing sales. And since sales and marketing professionals spend much of their time in virtual, online meetings, Personify Live is a way for them to get their persona in front of prospective customers in case they can’t be face-to-face.

Personify Live marries the verbal cues (your presentation, video, etc.) with important non-verbal cues (gestures, hand motions, etc.) to make presentations more dynamic. Studies have shown that people believe speakers to be more credible when they can be seen as opposed to only heard. Keep an eye out for our upcoming white papers that further delve into this topic.

How We Differentiate From the Competition

There are many Web conferencing platforms out there (WebEx, GoToMeeting, Lync to name a few). They all accomplish similar functions—they get your slides to your audience. They don’t do a great job at getting you to your audience. And that is where we excel. We enable you to deliver the best message possible to the other side. Your body language, your passion, your enthusiasm and your persona add a critical dimension to the online meeting. We make this happen by leveraging some of the most cutting-edge technology out there. That’s why Personify Live is unlike anything else on the market.

Business Model

We sell Personify Live as a monthly service, priced at $19.99 per user per month. Our price point makes Personify Live a relatively inexpensive tool for any sales team or individual serious about increasing engagement with their prospective customers. The beauty of Personify Live is that all you need is a computer and a depth-sensing camera. On our website, we also sell camera bundles for $199, which includes an ASUS depth-sensing camera and three months of service.

Market Opportunity

Our market opportunity at Personify Live is vast. Our product is useful to any company that has a sales team or any organization that conducts regular webinars. Individual sales and marketing professionals can also benefit from the service.

Aside from the traditional sales and marketing and enterprise uses, Personify Live has been tested in other industries as well, including education. The product has received an enthusiastic response from educators looking to create online content for their classes. Although we created Personify Live as an enterprise service, the product does have its place in a variety of other settings.

The number of use cases for the technology is vast. Want to see for yourself? Watch the demo or come see us at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 7. We truly think that if we get our product in front of people, they will be amazed at what they see.

Current Needs

We are always looking for passionate, talented and interesting people to join our team at Personify Live. If you qualify, feel free to reach out and tell us why.

Personify – www.personifyinc.com