Startups

Volumetric video startup Soar sees itself in the metaverse

The five-year-old, Cherry Hill-based company that aims to make 3D content more accessible is ready to come out of stealth mode.

Soar's platform in use.

(Courtesy gif)

Since college, Anthony Fenu has worked on building companies where the world we perceive can translate just as it does three dimensionally, but digitally.

He started working with early VR technology while at William Patterson University in North Jersey, and began building a company with a handful of friends. They were using tech to build a digital 3D walkthrough of a space, which could be used to sell properties remotely. But the marketplace was getting crowded, and they were losing out on business to quickly growing companies like Matterport.

In 2017, Fenu and his four cofounders — Justin Baker, Nicholas Castellucci, Esaul Helena and Riley Horvath — began work on what’s now known as Soar, a real-time volumetric video streaming platform. Volumetric video captures more data than traditional methods, and can be viewed on flat screens, 3D displays or through tech like VR goggles.

“Think capturing reality in three dimensions instead of two like traditional video — the way we as humans perceive the world,” Fenu said.

Soar, based out of Cherry Hill but with about 20 employees scattered across the country, builds the capture software side of the business. It aims to be hardware agnostic, working with companies like Microsoft and Intel for cameras and other equipment, to be a more accessible option for video streaming.

For a long time, volumetric video has been relegated to media giants. (Here’s a look at how Sony is using it.) Fenu and his team are trying to change that, as exploration of the metaverse persists and VR and AR technology becomes more affordable and mainstream. Soar is a nod to the the evolution of this content creation being available to smaller creators, companies and anyone else who might want to enter the space or expand their video capabilities. Its current clients range from major film studios to smaller content creators, the cofounder said.

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“We’re capturing and bringing in true objects, people, places and things. Up until now 3D had been computer generated, and there’s always this uncanny valley in creating the content versus truly capturing it,” Fenu said. “The tech allows you to capture true to life and bring it into commercial environment, or bring it into your reality through VR or AR.”

The team has spent first few years “peeling back risk layers,” Fenu said, and recently raised some money, built out their platform further and launched the first public version last spring. They’re mainly a team of engineers, with a handful of salespeople and the company just made its first marketing hire. It plans to add another eight or so people in the next several months — see open roles here — and they’re in the middle of raising a Series A round, Fenu said, mainly with follow-on investors.

“In general, we’re just super excited to be able to tackle what we’ve been aiming on tackling,” he said. “We’re in the stage now where we want to build long term.”

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