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A start-up is turning its experience in military defense systems into a high-tech app for furniture shopping. The techie behind it says the app transforms the shopping experience by helping furniture shoppers see exactly what that new sofa will look like in their living room—before they buy it.
It's called Cimagine, and its founder, Yoni Nevo, says it's a game changer.
Watch Nevo pitch his new technology to panelists Alicia Syrett, board member of the New York Angels, Maxwell Ryan, Apartment Therapy founder, and Nat Burgess, Corum Group president. Will the "Power Pitch" judges envision his start-up as the next big thing?
Nevo and his wife always had trouble imagining how furniture would look in their home while shopping.
"The idea for the company stemmed from a real need that we experienced as homeowners," he told CNBC. Often asking each other questions like "Will it fit?" or "Is it the right color?," Nevo created a way to answer these questions with the tap of the finger. And his team credits what they learned while working at the computer vision labs of an Israeli military defense company as giving them the knowledge to pull it off.
"Our technology is different, but the expertise of our team stems from very profound roots, and is hard to find in other places," he told CNBC.
Cimagine crosses cutting-edge augmented reality technology with interior design into an app that allows users to drop 3-D images of furniture into any room.
The app allows users to view an item they see online and virtually place it anywhere in their house. All the user has to do is click a button on the website displaying the product, and that activates the camera on their smart phone or tablet to scan the room.
The app then superimposes a 3-D image of that product into the scanned room. Users can then use their phone to walk around the item and see it from any angle or distance, rotate, move it, and even change options like fabric or color.
When shopping at an actual store it works a little differently. Store shoppers using the app need a saved digital picture of the room they want to put furniture in. They can then scan the label or a QR code of a sofa or chair they like and the app will superimpose a 3-D image of the item into that photo.
This is done to scale, so you can actually see if that new sofa really fits in your living room. But Cimagine isn't the only company using some form of augmented reality in the furniture space.
Some competitors include the software behind major retailer IKEA's catalog app, the Fingo Furniture app, and Adornably.
During the Power Pitch segment, Burgess reminded Nevo of even bigger technology platforms using augmented reality like the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality head set for 3-D videogames, and Microsoft's HoloLens, which uses augmented reality for gamers.
"How worried are you that these guys are going to boil this technology down into every tablet [and] every laptop and basically make you irrelevant?" Burgess asked.
Nevo responded: "I believe what they're doing is mostly adding infrastructure that allows companies such as us to develop the right software that would provide the best user experience and the best value, in this case, to retailers. ... I think those things are complementary and getting in the right direction and helping us, actually."
The start-up offers the app for free and makes money by charging retailers to use the software. It's available on iOS and coming soon to Android.
Nevo said the start-up is courting a large U.S. retailer he can't name yet, and is adding thousands of items per month to its platform, but right now, Cimagine is only available for use in the U.K. on the e-commerce site Littlewoods.com, owned by online retailer Shop Direct. For now, U.S. users can only demo Cimagine, which is currently available at the App Store.
Cimagine is headquartered in Israel and has raised approximately $2 million in funds from key investors Ourcrowd, Plus Ventures, 2B-Angels and Titanium. The start-up has 10 full time employees plus various subcontractors, consultants and advisers.