By Kate Park
Augmented reality (AR) can help customers shopping online preview products before making a purchase, and is a growing area of investment for e-commerce businesses. According to a recent survey of 16,000 Snapchat users in 16 markets, 92% of Gen Zers want to use AR and VR for online shopping.
Now, a South Korean augmented reality (AR) startup called RECON Labs, which enables e-commerce customers to create 3D models within a few hours by taking a short video of products via its platform PlicAR, has raised $4.4 million. The company will use its Series A funding to increase its headcount and enhance its platform PlicAR, which helps automatically turn a 2D image into a 3D view of its products without requiring any special skills in 3D modeling.
RECON Labs CEO Seong-hoon Ban told TechCrunch that the firm works with a number of e-commerce marketplaces and retailers, including furniture companies that want to help their clients visualize products in 3D models in actual life-size in augmented reality.
The company currently offers its service to more than 22 small and medium companies in South Korea, and is in discussion with potential customers in the fashion, toy and food sectors, Ban said. Retailers can save time and costs by using PlicAR without building their own 3D modeling platform, he added.
RECON Labs claims it has more than 10,000 products that are 2D converted into 3D content. The platform will let users download, upload, view, sell and buy 3D assets through its web-based service in the future, like Sketchfab, which was acquired by Epic Games in 2021, Ban said.
The startup also recently partnered with The Sandbox, a San Francisco-based game company, to develop a tool that will allow users to create 3D characters and items. RECON Labs says it plans to roll out a 3D creator’s app next year.
It also aims to open an office in Silicon Valley for U.S. expansion in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Its previous backers, including Kakao Ventures, Shinhan Capital, Lotte Ventures and Naver D2SF, participated in the latest round, bringing its total raised to $4.8 million since its inception in 2019. New investors Korea Investment Partners, Hanwha Techwin and Kakao Brain also joined in the round.
“We will create a service that can easily and conveniently create and utilize 3D content as simple as anyone creating images or video content. Our vision is to grow to provide any types of 3D assets for AR and metaverse environments,” said Ban.