Proptech Investor Backs Startup Looking To Fuse Real Estate And The Metaverse
Specialist proptech venture capital firm Pi Labs has backed a startup looking to create augmented reality technology that would fuse real-world space in sectors like real estate with the digital metaverse.
London-based Dent Reality has raised £2.5M ($3.4M) from Pi Labs and other VC investors, including Sugar Capital and 7percent Ventures.
The metaverse is a digital world in which people use virtual reality and augmented reality, or AR, headsets, wearable devices or smartphones to move around and interact with other people in digital places: Think a virtual reality version of a shop or a souped-up version of a Zoom call with co-workers.
Dent Reality runs an all-in-one platform that provides an accurate indoor positioning system, a digital map and a seamless user experience using AR for navigation, the company said. Its mapping technology can map a space and keep it updated with useful information, such as where grocery items are located in a supermarket, and provides AR prompts for in-store navigation via a mobile app.
All of these technologies operate within a complex environment where there could be 40,000 items in a typical location and thousands of locations per retailer. For instance, typing "gluten-free bread" into an integrated app would show a consumer directions to the item.
The Dent Reality team has been working with UK retailer Marks & Spencer to run tests of the technology at its Westfield London store in White City. The app helps shoppers find every item on their lists, with real-time guidance and information to improve their experience.
The potential of the technology is extensive and can be applied to campuses, airports, shopping centres and museums, for example, Dent said.
The investment comes as companies like Meta and Microsoft are building their own visions for the metaverse. Dent Reality said it believes the metaverse will not be a separate virtual world, but an integrated reality blending the virtual and real and providing contextual information to enrich real-world interactions.
“Integrating physical environments with real-time digital information will prove to be a key factor in driving footfall for physical retailers as it creates an immersive personalised experience,” Pi Labs CEO and founder Faisal Butt said in a release. “As consumers increasingly adopt various augmented reality experiences, we believe Dent Reality’s technology will become a crucial customer engagement tool as it unlocks that essential solution which the industry can no longer afford to ignore as they compete with pure-play online retailers.”