MeetKai launches new space scanning technology and metaverse builder
Not everyone believes the metaverse — social, VR-centric worlds — has staying power. But MeetKai is among the staunch optimists. Founded in 2018, the startup initially focused on conversational AI, aiming to build cutting-edge, first-class voice recognition and speech synthesis technology. It soon broadened its focus, introducing products to help developers build components of metaverse worlds, including “intelligent” NPCs and (less exciting) advertisements.
This year at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show, MeetKai is launching several new platforms aimed at metaverse creators and users, including a way to digitize 3D rooms and buildings using any Internet-connected device with a camera.
The 3D digitization service, called MeetKai Reality, can bring various objects and spaces from the real world into the metaverse, MeetKai says. After tapping a camera-equipped device to record a few seconds of video, users upload the footage to MeetKai Reality, which renders the captured space in VR.
MeetKai’s spatial rendering technology. Image credit: Meet Kai
While not new—platforms like Coohom, Matterport, and even Zillow could already render spaces from photos—MeetKai CEO and co-founder James Kaplan claims that MeetKai Reality is the first photo-to-rendering solution tailored for metaverse use cases. “We want to unlock the same cost and time savings for anyone else looking to build in the metaverse,” he said in a statement, noting the potential uses in real estate, interior design, architecture, engineering and retail.
MeetKai’s other new product, the MeetKai Metaverse Editor, is a bit more differentiating. It allows users with no coding experience to build structures and spaces in the metaverse, possibly collaborating with others in real-time while doing so. Metaverse-building tools do exist, to be sure – startups like Tripolygon provide them. But not all are code-free, and some remain vaporware, Kaplan points out at the moment.
Image credit: Meet Kai
“MeetKai’s metaverse tools can be used a la carte … We want to unlock the same cost and time savings for anyone else looking to embed the metaverse,” Kaplan said.
To round out the new product suite, MeetKai is launching MeetKai Cloud AI, which allows developers to plug a cloud-powered voice assistant into an existing virtual environment. Kaplan claims that these assistants – which take the form of avatars that can talk about any number of pre-defined topics – have “real-time reasoning capabilities” (although the jury is out on that) and can “leverage any form of multimedia to interact instantly with end users.”
Image credit: Meet Kai
In the future, MeetKai plans to develop its own AI language system in line with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which it expects will significantly improve the quality of conversations with its avatars.
“I am very pleased to see our company deliver the world’s leading metaverse and AI technology products, setting a new mark and raising the level of technology in a highly competitive industry,” said MeetKai founder and executive chairman Weili Dai in a press release. “Our vision and mission for MeetKai is to distribute these capabilities to the masses by providing cutting-edge and affordable solutions, accessible from browsers and any device – such as phones, tablets, computers, large screens, not just VR – accessible anywhere in the world for greater influence and better lives for all.”
MeetKai competes with hundreds of companies for dominance in the metaverse space, but it seems to be holding its own, claiming that over 50 million people are actively using their technology. Recently, the startup announced a deal with the Los Angeles Chargers to develop new in-stadium and home experiences, including an “AI-based” locker room tour.
To date, MeetKai has raised over $20 million in venture capital (per VentureBeat) and has approximately 40 employees.