Seek CEO Jon Cheney showcases some of the company’s software during an interview with Lehi on Monday. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
Estimated reading time: 6-7 minutes
LEHI — It’s happened to many of us: after ordering something online, the product delivered to your doorstep isn’t what you expected. Maybe it’s too big, too small, or just doesn’t look like it did online.
But there’s a Lehi-based tech company that can help.
SeekXR and its augmented reality capabilities allow consumers to simply scan a QR code and that couch you’ve been looking at or a new desk can appear in your living room through your smartphone screen.
Although much of the company’s business deals with this type of augmented reality, Seek founder and CEO Jon Cheney told KSL.com that the company has its sights set on another area of technology. and potential business: the metaverse.
Cheney said the company aims to process more in the metaverse as demand grows. Cheney said the Metaverse can “be as simple as just viewing a product on your phone or screen for a full game that’s fully immersive, whether on a computer or a (virtual reality) headset.”
Metaverse — an increasingly popular term and central to the expansion of tech giants like Facebook and Google — can mean different things to different users. Digital services like the video game Fortnite and the virtual world Sandbox can be described as metaverse platforms where users can buy and sell digital goods or attend online events like concerts, among other experiences.
As companies in technology and other industries look to enter this new tech space, Cheney said Seek is a boon for companies looking to tap into the emerging market for companies looking to expand their reach. thanks to augmented reality or to develop in the technological field of the metaverse. .
“We can help any brand or business embark on the metaverse…in a way that begins to engage with their customers in a much more positive and meaningful way than ever before.”
‘Seek and you will find’
Cheney said he didn’t get into augmented reality and the metaverse on purpose.
While sitting in the company’s new office in Lehi, he says Seek started out as Treasure Canyon, a company that held treasure hunts where customers paid to participate in the search. Cheney points to a treasure chest on a shelf in his office, explaining that it was once filled with a $10,000 prize and that dragging it up a mountain to hide it is no small task.
Treasure Canyon changed in 2016 with the release of Pokemon GO, as the hugely popular app used augmented reality so users could catch their favorite Pokemon while in their community. Cheney saw the technology in action and wanted to apply it to Treasure Canyon, which then had an app. The change also brought a new name.
“We called the Seek app, like ‘seek and you shall find’, that’s where the name comes from,” Cheney said, referring to a phrase that can be found in Bible book versions of Matthew and Luke.
Soon the company added developers to its staff and began to move towards augmented reality. This shift continues to the present day, as Seek continues to emphasize Extended Reality, or XR, which Cheney says can be defined more broadly as the Metaverse.
Augmented reality as a consumer tool
Right now, the bulk of Seek’s business, Cheney said, is driven by its ability to take its customers’ products and allow a user to view the item in real time.
In his office in Lehi, Cheney calls up a QR code on his laptop. He scans the black and white box with his smartphone, and moments later a 3D model of a Nespresso coffee machine appears.
“I actually don’t drink coffee, so I don’t really know what it is, but it sounds really nice,” Brigham Young University graduate Cheney said with a laugh.
On his phone screen using his camera, the model can be placed and moved around the room, giving a true to size comparison of what the product would look like if it were actually in the room .
For Cheney, one of Seek’s favorite uses for technology is with Lego, the popular children’s building toy. At Walmart stores, Seek’s technology powers QR codes found near Legos in the toy aisle. Users simply scan the code, and moments later, “the Lego set would come to life right before you do,” Cheney said.
The augmented reality used by Seek can be used for a variety of products: looking at Lego sets in a store, putting a coffee machine in your kitchen, or seeing if a shelf fits in your child’s room.
Cheney says using this level of technology can be hugely profitable for retailers, adding that Nestlé, the parent company of Nespresso and the world’s largest food company, has reported that its sales conversion rate has tripled over products featuring Seek’s 3D assets.
Instead of requiring users to download an app, viewing is done through a smartphone’s web browser, which makes the experience more accessible and can be viewed quickly. It’s key to the user experience, Cheney said.
“I think that’s really, really important for companies trying to deliver these kinds of experiences to their customers, it has to be easy,” he said.
“Don’t make them download an app, don’t force them to log into an account, don’t complicate the process so they have to learn something new. One click, and you’re up and running.”
While much of Seek’s business is commerce-focused, Cheney aims for the future and brings brands into the metaverse, specifically combining Seek’s management of 3D assets and blockchain technology to enable users to use NFTs in their preferred platform.
NFT, which stands for Non-Fungible Token, are unique digital works of art that can take the form of photos, videos, or audio. Unlike the more prevalent types of online NFTs that look like works of art and often sell for large sums of money, Cheney says Seek’s vision NFTs have a more tangible use in the metaverse.
If you wanted your Fortnite character to don a Utah Jazz jersey, you would be able to use Seek’s abilities to purchase an NFT of that jersey and place it on your avatar (as long as a copyright holder allowed typing such item into this platform for use).
Using blockchain technology, a user could verify the transaction and provide proof of ownership, Cheney said. The same NFT can also be sold using the technology.
Cheney expects Seek to continue its rapid growth, which is one reason the company has resisted being taken over by larger groups with eight-figure deals. As of now, Cheney said Seek’s last valuation at which they raised capital was around $130 million.
This growth is expected to be on the NFT and blockchain side of the business, as Cheney stated, these aspects are expected to grow at a substantial rate. He believes the future lies in using this kind of technology to revolutionize the way everyday things, like attending a sporting event, can be made better.