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Contact Info

Brad Petersen
Director of
Communications
53 Everitt Lab
1406 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-6376
bradp@illinois.edu

Contact Info

Meg Dickinson
Communications Specialist
56 Everitt Lab
1406 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 300-6664
megd@illinois.edu

ECE startup enhances video communication

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By Gabrielle Irvin, ECE ILLINOIS
June 10, 2013

  • ECE ILLINOIS faculty members Sanjay Patel, Minh Do, and Wen-mei Hwu and alumni Dennis Lin and Quang Nguyen are working to revolutionize video communication and collaboration via Personify, a product that immerses users in a shared space, adding a new dimension to video conferencing, collaboration, and presentations.
  • Personify technology operates with new sensor technologies and uses the extra information from the sensor, or depth, to create a computational video platform that brings new features to video communication, such as such as real-time user segmentation.
  • Personify's technology is able to pull the video image of the user from their physical environment and superimpose them onto the PC desktop, allowing the user to interact with their content and thus engage their audience.

ECE ILLINOIS faculty members Sanjay J. Patel, Minh N. Do, and Wen-mei W. Hwu and alumni Dennis Lin (MSCompE '04, PhD '11) and Quang Nguyen (MSECE '09) are working to revolutionize video communication and collaboration via Personify, a company founded in 2009 that has since launched Personify Live, a product that immerses users in a shared space, adding a new dimension to video conferencing, collaboration, and presentations.

Personify Live superimposes a video image of Sanjay Patel  onto the PC desktop.
Personify Live superimposes a video image of Sanjay Patel onto the PC desktop.


Personify, formerly Nuvixa, creates products that enhance the way people communicate via video for online meetings, on-line training and education, desktop telepresence, and video chat.

“Video calling is about creating a sense of connectedness with the other participants,” said Sanjay Patel, ECE professor and Personify CEO. “Putting everyone into a common environment along with the content they are sharing significantly improves the online experience.”  

Personify technology operates with new sensor technologies, such as the Microsoft Kinect for Windows Sensor. Personify uses the extra information from the sensor, or depth, to create a computational video platform that brings new features to video communication that would otherwise be difficult with traditional imaging sensors, such as real-time user segmentation –identifying the human from the physical environment and then cutting the human out of the scene. Personify’s technology is able to pull the video image of the user from their physical environment and superimpose them onto the PC desktop, allowing the user to interact with their content and thus engage their audience.

Personify Chat immerses users into a shared space.
Personify Chat immerses users into a shared space.


The company plans to launch a new product, Personify Chat, in the near future. Personify Chat is a video calling application for the desktop.  Personify Chat builds on the Intel Perceptual Computing Platform to make visual communication more natural and engaging. Personify Chat also eliminates the visibility of physical backgrounds so that users can be immersed in a shared space, like a desktop. The application allows users to share browser windows and view the same content – a simple and effective way to collaborate.

“We are seeing great potential for the company right now,” Patel said. “We are getting a lot of interest from large enterprises for our product, along with partnership opportunities from larger vendors in the video communication space. This is the future of how people will communication with video.”

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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