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TMCNet:  Investment to aid video technology firm readying first product

[February 21, 2011]

Investment to aid video technology firm readying first product

CHAMPAIGN, Feb 21, 2011 (The News-Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A company that wants to revolutionize video conferencing and video calling caught investors' attention when it appeared before the Urbana-Champaign Angel Network last fall.

Nuvixa, a startup company on the University of Illinois campus, has developed technologies to create an "immersive videocommunication environment" for people communicating remotely.

"We're looking at doing a product launch later this year," said Sanjay Patel, a UI associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who is one of Nuvixa's founders.

Patel said Nuvixa expects to get an investment of "over $100,000" from an organization of multiple investors as a result of making a pitch to the local angel network.

"It resulted in some good connections to other investors in the region," Patel said.

Altogether, Nuvixa has amassed about $650,000 in capital to this point, including investments from IllinoisVentures, Serra Ventures and Advanced Micro Devices, he said.

With Nuvixa's technology, the presenter is "immersed in the content you're trying to present," Patel said.

That's a departure from conventional video technology.

"If you're delivering a presentation by PowerPoint over the Web, with today's standard technology, you upload it and the other party reads along with you," he said.

"With our technology, you, your voice and your video are on the PowerPoint," Patel said.

Adding your body language to the presentation can make it "more animated, spirited, emotional and memorable," he said.

It's helpful for professors creating lectures, salespeople trying to win a sale or consultants presenting data to clients, Patel said.

"You do it over the Web using our product, and you have a much more informative session," he said.

Nuvixa was founded in August 2009 and "officially got rolling" in April 2010, Patel said. The company was founded by him; two other UI professors, Wen-mei Hwu and Minh Do; and two of their students, Dennis Lin and Quang Nguyen.

The company employs 15 people at its offices in the EnterpriseWorks building in the UI Research Park.

"We had a significant demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January," Patel said.

An alpha version of the product is expected to be released in the next month or two, so people can download the software and try it out, provided they have the right hardware, he added.

"Our mission is to make video communication something much more valuable to the individual through new technologies," he said.

Patel said the company has gotten interest from computer companies, video conferencing companies and video calling companies in the same realm as Skype.

All are looking at how they might integrate Nuvixa's technology into their existing product lines, from a revenue perspective.

The first products Nuvixa releases will be for commercial use, Patel said, but eventually there will be a version for consumers.

"Stay tuned. The consumer version of it is really going to be mind-blowing," Patel said, adding that young people want to share photos, videos and Facebook pages.

"Now you can do that in real time in video calling, using our technology," he said.

Patel said he's glad Champaign-Urbana has its own angel investor network.

"What the angel network does is provide a one-stop shop one 15-minute presentation and you get everyone in the room looking to make an investment," he said.

"It would have been extremely time-consuming to seek them out on our own, and to present to them would have taken months," he said.

Granted, not every investor is interested in every kind of investment. But from the September appearance, Nuvixa got "very good leads on at least two investors interested," he said.

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