Building the Open Metaverse

Inside ShapesXR: Inga Petryaevskaya's Vision for Immersive Collaboration

Inga Petryaevskaya, CEO of ShapesXR, shares her journey from machine learning at Siemens to pioneering VR collaboration tools. ShapesXR enhances design and collaboration in immersive environments, integrating real-time prototyping and storytelling. Inga discusses the impact of VR on industries, AI integration, and future advancements in XR technology.


Inga Petryaevskaya
CEO & Founder, ShapesXR
Inga Petryaevskaya
CEO & Founder, ShapesXR






Today on Building the Open Metaverse.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

We now educate every other app out there on the market, how to build your app once with one UI system. It doesn't matter if you are going to be in VR, in mixed reality, in augmented reality. It doesn't matter if you're going to have two controllers, one controller and one tracked hand, or just hands; it's the same product.


Welcome to Building the Open Metaverse, where technology experts discuss how the community is building the open metaverse together, hosted by Patrick Cozzi and Marc Petit.

Marc Petit:

Hello, everybody. Welcome back to Building the Open Metaverse, Season 6, the podcast that showcases the community of artists, developers, researchers, executives, and entrepreneurs who are building the internet of tomorrow.

My name is Marc Petit, and my cohost is Patrick Cozzi. Patrick, how are you?

Patrick Cozzi:

Hey, Marc. I'm doing great. I'm recording from our studio at the Cesium headquarters in Philadelphia. 

The other thing that's happening here right now is we're hosting the Siggraph I3D conference. We have some super smart folks literally from around the world here talking about the latest advancements and interactivity in real-time. Quite a moment to be hosting these folks in Philly.

For the show today, we're going to be talking about VR and how co-experience and immersion can help with design. We have one of the pioneers of VR development with us.

Marc Petit:

Yeah. Absolutely. It's my pleasure to introduce you to Inga Petryaevskaya, the visionary CEO and founder of ShapesXR, a pioneering VR collaboration platform. With a background deeply rooted in innovation and a passion for pushing the boundaries of technology, Inga has led ShapesXR to the forefront of the XR industry.

Today, she joins us to share insights into her journey, the transformative power of ShapesXR, and its profound impact on collaborative design and immersive experience. Welcome to the show, Inga. We're so happy to have you with us today.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

Hey, Marc. Hey, Patrick. It's a great pleasure for me to be here with you today.

Patrick Cozzi:

We'd like to start off the episode if you want to share a bit about yourself and your career journey.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

I'm a computer scientist. I'm a software engineer by education. Coming originally from Eastern Europe, you have to have one degree or at least two degrees to start doing anything. That's very different from US entrepreneurs, typical portraits.

My first degree is as a software engineer. My second degree is in computer science, early days of machine learning. This is how I started at Siemens, quite some many years ago, in corporate technology. That was an incredible experience for me back then because it was fundamental research and applied research, and my job was actually to find the project that can benefit our clients and business units today. Again, it was something super early days in machine learning and we were predicting, for example, flooding in the city of Amsterdam using machine learning algorithms. That was back in 2005.

Then, I spent several years at Siemens Corporate Technology, an incredible experience to understand how the new tech is going to change the world, but how can we apply it as soon as possible for some real-world problems? Then, I joined EMC, which is the East Coast company here in the US. Again, was super lucky back at EMC when Pat Gelsinger was the CTO of the company. He used to be a CTO of Intel back then. Then, he joined EMC, and he was a CTO, and I was part of the office of the CTO, and also searching for some incredible tech startup that could bring innovation inside the company.

EMC was very acquisitive, and that was so inspiring for me to meet the technical. It was all deep tech. It was not a financial investment. That was like, "Okay. What is the great next big thing that we can acquire and keep building with the resources of a big company?" That was super interesting.

VMware, for example, where Pat became the CEO later on, was acquired by EMC, probably even more known than EMC itself, and RSA and other companies. While meeting all those entrepreneurs, I was really jealous that I had so many ideas, but again, my probably Eastern European cultural region was like, "Education first, then you have to make your own money to spend your own money." Because how can you spend someone else's money, and get that stability first and be self-sufficient, and only then you can go on that journey kind of.

I spent so much time with entrepreneurs, for example, in Israel, the UK, and the US, and their mindsets regarding projects and startups were completely different.

Then, EMC got acquired by Dell, which actually was a big thing. It was GDC 2015, I believe, when I tried the first Oculus and met one of the Oculus co-founders. Oh, my gosh, I was amazed. The reason I was amazed was because, my entire career, as you already understood, I had to explain some very complicated ideas that were so hard to explain.

You either build a software prototype, and you have to fight for resources, development resources, and design resources to build a prototype or MVP that the company decides to fund or not to fund, or you build just a futuristic PowerPoint deck with some random images. No one cares, not realistic ones. Then, in a headset, I realized that I was actually inside 3D. It's definitely going to democratize how we explain ideas and pitch ideas.

Initial thinking was like, "Yeah. This is the future." I really wanted to join some platform shifts. I was probably too young when the personal computing shift was happening. When the mobile computing shift was happening, I was still building my career and like, "Okay. That's not for me. Someone else is going to do that." When I joined EMC, cloud computing was happening, like digitalization and all those things. That was pretty awesome. Then, I realized, "Okay. This is the next big thing." We didn't call it spatial internet or something, but it was clear that this is a completely new interface and it's a completely new way for people to interact with stuff.

Finally, I was ready to create that corporate world and felt that I could do anything with it. I was super naive. It was so early in 2016 for VR. It was PC-based VR. My passion was storytelling. The first company was Tvori. I don't know if you want to talk about it, but we learned a lot through those early days of VR, and I'm very grateful for that experience.

Marc Petit:

You're talking about Tvori?

Inga Petryaevskaya:


Marc Petit:

I remember that. Animation and keyframing in VR were interesting. If I remember well, you got it on Steam, and you had decent success at the time.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

I think at that time, we really had a great success. Tvori was known as a product. Initially, anyone can tell a story, but who is anyone? Probably only had five million headsets back then. They realized, "Okay. Probably not anyone can tell a story. Let's go and disrupt this entertainment animation industry," because this real-time animation was such a blast when you just tried, and people were like, "Wow." I spent quite some time in LA meeting Disney, Framestore, Cartoon Network, all those–Magnavox, all of them. I was also helping them set up their devices and unpacked boxes with headsets. It was really, really, very early.

Back then, we were not fundraising and we succeeded. Cartoon Network built several great VR games that are still on Steam in Tvori. I do know that Magnavox was doing virtual cameras for the Lion King production. There were some incredible projects, but again, given that you were in a headset, but building for flat screen outcome, not really like what I was trying to do with Tvori, it was hard to really make that sense of urgency for them.

It's just so much ahead of the market. Then, I realized that we still have some great user engagement, but those people are not animators, they're not from the entertainment industry, and they were actually XR designers because they were missing anything that would allow them to be immersed and do stuff, but Tvori was never built for that.

Marc Petit:

Then, ShapesXR?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

Right. Actually, it was perfect timing. I was struggling to find the use cases for Tvori. We had paid clients, and that was incredible. We were known, and I built my ecosystem and network. Then, I realized, "Okay. We have this cohort of users that we don't even consider to be our ICP or target audience, and I reached out to all of them."

People who were spending daily hours in the product, and they're like, "No. No. I'm not an animator. Tvori is not really a good fit for me, but I'm trying to do UI/UX for XL apps.” Those people were people from Unity, from Meta, from Facebook back in the day, from Walmart and others, and they say like, "But we don't have any ways to actually try things as designers without developers," try to get a feeling of how the app is going to look like in a headset.

I interviewed about 50 of those most powerful users who were the most engaged. Realizing those were designers, but probably was too painful to just park Tvori because it's still a beautiful product. It's, by the way, still on Steam, and it was heartbreaking. I was in love with that product, but then the pandemic hit it. It was good for us because I realized that, "Okay. Now, our own team building Tvori is so slow and so inefficient and it was daily friction and frustration."

We brainstorm in something, in Mirror or Figma or then we have a call in Zoom. Then, I try to send a Figma file and wait for Unity APK, and then I browse it on my own in a headset, wait for a day to get another build if I want to move things a little bit, or I can do that myself.

It was such a broken process, and they're like, "I wish we have something, just as a team, to get together in VR and align on the idea and then build the user flow real quick." Quest joined the market; Tvori was not possible to force Quest with all those real-time things that we had in that product. I realized we needed to build something for our own team.

There is definitely something missing. I had big hopes for Unity because they were actually using Tvori doing some editing XR and Mars projects, but Unity is a development company. They just probably don't know how to build super-accessible products for non-developers, and it just was not intuitive, accessible, or what I envisioned collaboration in VR should be. In 2021, we pushed the last update, like January 9th, to Tvori to make it super stable so no one reaches out to us with any bugs or anything.

It's super stable. You use it at your own will, and that's it. Yeah. The first line of Shapes was written on January 11th, but I already had on all my napkins what this was going to be. It has to be collaborative, number one, and no limitation on collaboration. If you're a team of 15 people, we have to be there. 

Real-time cooperation, so we can not just review things together, we can build things together. It has to be still storytelling. We have to show design function. Probably key frame animation is too much for designers. They don't want to waste time on that and they want more interactive prototypes, but it has to be no-code prototyping. More like, "Okay. Trigger-based prototyping." It has to run on a standalone headset because PCVR is powerful in its own way, and we'll often appreciate how things look and how much we, as developers, can afford in terms of various shaders, materials, and sizes of the models, but the speed in the prototyping is the most important.

Patrick Cozzi:

I really enjoy all of the principles behind ShapesXR. It's clearly revolutionary for collaborative design. 

Could you maybe walk us through an example to help explain some of the key features for folks who haven't used it yet?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

When I talk about why Shapes has to exist, I have to explain that when we talk about apps for wearables, which is now not just VR games or VR training, it's also mixed reality games and training. It's also AR apps. It's not just 3D, right? It's spatial 3D. Spatial 3D means that the most important thing these days is to find the position of your UI, real physical distance, and the scale and ergonomics around it. 

When you start in Shapes, you can meet the team and define the major principles of what you're building. We have libraries of pre-made assets for you that you can use to mock up the idea very, very quickly. We can call it gray boxing, for example. You can import your own models if you are exploring and you have a lot of assets. You can bring that in Shapes.

The core functionality is storytelling, so we have storyboards or stages if you wish. You can show design as a flow, or if you build game-level design, you can go and progress from one game level to another. It's very linear storyboard. Super easy. It's like when you can show and explain something in a matter of five minutes. Then, when you get aligned, you can go deeper and say, "Okay. Now, I'm ready to build no linear prototype," like really interactive. "I want to click this button, and then a box opens," or "I want to click this or hover over this button, and the door of the car opens." We have an interactivity system for that. Setting those triggers is very straightforward. It's no-code. It's just like trigger-based, super familiar for designers. From day one, we knew that Shapes is not a standalone tool itself.

It has to integrate into today's pipeline of game developers and app developers. That's why we have very powerful integrations, and we allow you to bring your own assets. We have integration with Figma, and we allow you to export that to any engine, Unreal, Unity, 3D Blender, and others. We have a powerful plugin with Unity. These are the core things. Shapes is a rapid prototyping tool. You can really quickly visualize your ideas as a team. This is powerful, by the way.

I think what our clients appreciate the most and users about Shapes is you are building, let's say, a healthcare training, and you are super talented developers and designers, but there is still a lot of subject domain expertise required to understand, "Okay. You have a surgeon. Should the interface be up or down when the surgeon is doing his work, for example?" Or some other example of how they're holding some tools themselves, like physical tools, and still need to interact with the interface.

In Shapes, given that it's so easy to just go in and collaborate together, we see that our users are bringing a lot of non-designers and non-developers to Shapes to get their perspective. That could be an Olympic champion in boxing if it's FitXR building their boxing experience, or it could be a shoulder surgeon if it's another kind of user of ours building the next-generation VR training for shoulder surgery, or it could be marketing people if you're a big company like Logitech building real-world venues, but you want marketing people to be involved. This is really cross-functional collaboration.

All you do is that before you go to code and implement and spend money. It's a lot about integrating fast. You can try so many ideas before you go and build them.

Marc Petit:

I was looking at the usage of Shapes. It seems to be used a lot to create 3D or to create VR, but in the case of Logitech, what were they trying to create with Shapes?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

We say that we have two major target markets, our low-hanging fruit, and where we immediately see, "Okay. We solve real problems." It's the XR market, as you said.

Apps for the headset, what I'm allowed to name: FitXR, TRIPP, Nanome, and we just posted a great case study with CoasterMania, built by just two people in Shapes. They designed all game levels, their menu, interactions, and everything in Shapes, and it was just so fast for them and just a super successful example.

Those XR teams don't have a choice. If you want to integrate fast, build fast, ship fast, and make really authentic experiences that feel delightful in a headset, ideally, you should immerse yourself as early as possible, not go to flat screen coding. But the second market that Logitech's example falls into is real-world design.

Why? There are more companies. I can share more examples of why it makes sense because our real world has a lot of similarities with our spatial world. Our real world has no similarity with flat screen 3D because flat screen 3D is 2D stuck, actually tied in a tiny screen of our monitor. In VR, we also have real human scale. If we can build something that is two kilometers by two kilometers space, and we can walk in it and actually literally walk, and we can touch things, and we can blend the real world with digital assets. Logitech was designing or building the full digital twin of the real-world conference, meaning that they built actual venues and actual stages and offices for the company of the conference that happened in Berlin later on.

Another example would be building showrooms for fashion brands. They envision that in Shapes. They want it to be the exact same showroom; is it New York or London or anywhere in the world? They get together and say like, "Okay. This is how the showroom should look like, and this is the actual distance and scale. This is the space that has to be between this mannequin and that object.

They actually redesign. I would say it's real-world, but given that it's so easy for them to meet in the same environment regardless of where they are in the world, there is no alternative to that unless you actually build a physical room, and then in the physical world, there is no other way for you. You fly people to see it. You have one store in New York, and then you fly your marketing people from Brazil to see that at actual scale, at actual how it feels around the globe.

This, I think, is a huge second market for us. All those people have headsets, and they realize, "Okay. Actually, VR allows us to immerse ourselves in spaces that do not exist today or build airports that we first want to envision and walk into." But we don't want to start building them before that, and it's so hard for many people to just do that on a flat screen. Again, it's like real-world design.

Patrick Cozzi:

Certainly. Inga, Shapes is clearly really helping folks move from this 2D design into this 3D spatial environment.

I'm curious if you could share experiences for folks who may be new to XR and how Shapes is helping them make that transition.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

Yes, for sure. There is definitely friction for people; that's why we are focusing so much on the XR community. Because for them, Shapes is like wow by default because they don't think of controllers. They just come and see something intuitive and collaborative, and they start building. When we talk about people who are not exposed to XR today but have heard that VR can help them be much more productive or meet.

Let's be honest, there is still a lot of friction. You have to onboard them to hold and use controllers, and that's why the future of Shapes is with and without controllers. This is what is coming soon, but I think that for them, 3D is very scary. People today are not using 3D flat-screen tools; they either use pen and pencil or 2D design tools.

Shapes is definitely the most probably relaxing environment for them, because we can be very intuitive and we can be very intuitive not just because we are awesome UI/UX designers ourselves. It's because the environment allows us to be very intuitive because you can behave in VR like you do in real life. I can grab a pencil in Shapes, like I would grab it in real life, and I can start drawing like I would do in real life or if I want to delete something, I just throw it away.

Basically, I think it's an easier transition for them. They are not using any 3D tools because they know it's a super steep learning curve. It's not like for creatives. It requires just when you have your idea. I think we have even more success with studio designers jumping in XR than people who are comfortable with 3D tools.

They don't want to stop using them, but those who are not even using any... An example would be, let's say, another big company, a very big retail company. They were doing packaging. Packaging is a huge deal for them, like the packaging of products and food. You would imagine that they probably designed those packages in Blender, but I don't know. No. It's actually a physical mock-up. It's actually the paper. 

Then, it took them two months to actually come up with a new package. They were doing a lot of physical prototypes and then they were inviting marketing vendor to come to their office to show them how the package is going to look like. Now, those people who were only doing that in the real world with paper do that in Shapes. They model it pretty intuitively. They bring those marketing suppliers, and they explain to them how things should go.

It's a huge speed-up for them. I think that the form factor of the device is still friction for people who just never use that. There are still a lot of complaints, and it'll probably take lots of time for them to come around to the device's default input type and replace their current backflow. But when they see that their competitors or someone succeeds with that and moves so much faster, and I don't know, design a new collection every month instead of every year, probably others will like, "Okay. This is the time for us to disrupt how we work today," and just learn that and go through initial friction, which usually doesn’t take that much time.

Once you familiarize yourself, you can be very efficient and productive. We usually talk to companies that are very early in their XR journey this way.

Marc Petit:

Collaboration is a core theme around VR. The ultimate promise of VR is core presence. It definitely allows co-experiences. I take it from XR that it's actually working, and your software, Shapes, is playing a big role in bringing people together in VR.

How do you see that moving forward? What would it take to get even more adoption?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

People who manage to convince their leadership to come in VR usually get that wow and magic, and they have a much faster green light for the project. They win their budgets. That's why now I see a lot of companies that use Shapes, as they call it, a pre-sales tool.

For example, there is a big consulting firm that wants to pitch a project idea to a big company in Japan. Previously, they would build that presentation in Shapes, making a lot of screenshots in Shapes. Then, they would send them a Google Doc, and they'd be like, "Okay. There is some response, but not that." What they do now is send them headsets.

They go through this initial friction, but they try to bring them in. You mentioned this co-presence. I think it doesn't matter how those avatars look when you're in the same virtual world, but the fact that sometimes the client can experience something at a human scale is vital. Scale is so important that when you look at some kind of intermediate, you don't get it, you don't get value, you don't get magic unless you stay here and you see how giant it is or this is the crucial thing because then you feel like you experience it in the real world. There are a lot of things to have this feeling of co-presence.

Even Apple Vision Pro, for example, right? I'm looking at my Vision Pro right here. Initially, when they released that with their spatial persona, it was like, "Wow. I don't feel any co-presence at all." I tried various multiplayer games and apps, but then I only saw my zombie colleague on a flat screen. Not a flat screen. It was a portal with some sort of depth.

We were playing chess and I'm like, "Okay. I don't feel like we are in the same room. I feel as if we are playing chess with you but still have Zoom enabled." That was pretty disappointing for me at first. With the latest update on their spatial personas, it feels so much better. I'm sure it's not like the destination, but at least they show their commitment that, yes, the feeling of co-presence, how this technology can feel as co-located, even though we are miles apart and completely different continents, is very, very important for how we collaborate in VR.

Marc Petit:

I agree. I could not believe that they would ship the Vision Pro and not wait a few more weeks to get that feature. The two people working together on a spreadsheet or on a shared screen.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

They probably still helped 20 startups survive because morale on the XR market was so low in 2023. If Apple keeps waiting to release perfect products as they did before, some companies will disappear forever.

I think the fact that Apple joined probably helped at least some early-stage companies. That's why I appreciate that they released something, even though so imperfect and such a prototype. They have an MVP dev kit, but thank God that they did it and helped some startups close their fundraise and win their clients because there was still a lot of excitement. I agree that initial personas were disappointing and they were not representing co-presence at all, but they fixed it, which is great.

Marc Petit:

You feel they're making an impact on the market?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

During the first several months, for sure. Immediately, so many companies knocked on our door saying, "Yes. We are prototyping for Apple Vision Pro." In Shapes, we knew that they were going to do that, and we added additional interactions for gaze and pinch prototyping so that you can prototype those types of interactions. All of them, "Oh, we are building the future of news. How are people going to interact with news on Apple Vision Pro?" "Oh, we are building the future of retail. How people are going to shop on Apple Vision Pro," and all of that.

Any industry you name, I would say yes, they were reaching out. They're starting to build experiments around those types of initiatives. Later on, there was probably too much criticism coming about the headset that never helps, but it was probably pretty valid criticism.

I think yes, they definitely help. They help Meta, first of all. For so many years, I have been saying that my biggest risk is that Mark Zuckerberg goes surfing in the ocean, and the shark eats him, and then my business is over.

Now, it's not just Zuck. It's other people involved, and it's so much more sustainable. Definitely, they're helping. Why would people expect that this first generation device would be perfect? I knew that this device was for us, for developers, for us to see where we can go; it's just so powerful to see like, "Oh, actually, we are in the future." When they solve this weight issue, it's so uncomfortable, and the ergonomics are so bad, but we can see things so clearly, and we can have models with all those materials and textures. That's very inspiring. This new type of interface and input, I think it's just great that they introduce it as being imperfect, just to give out the direction.

Marc Petit:

We think a lot about the consumer market when we think about the Vision Pro and the Quest 3. What about the professional enterprise market? With COVID, we've seen rapid changes in the work environment, and we know that the hybrid remote work models and hybrid models are not always very efficient.

Do you see those headsets being able to play a role in helping make remote work more efficient?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

Remote work when it's just meeting in VR, for me, it was always a questionable use case, to be very honest. I was super upset when I learned about the fact that Glue went bankrupt, but it was probably super hard for them to compete when Backrooms is free.

Just meeting in VR is a very niche use case, I think remotely. Lots of people are going back to the office. Again, for some cases, it's definitely a powerful use case, but it has to give something more. All those 3D model reviews, trainings, and productivity are emerging within enterprises.

Patrick Cozzi:

I'm curious about your perspective on VR user experience.

Where do you think AI is really going to transform that?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

We've been talking about that for a long time. I do believe that XR is the best user interface for generative AI, whatever that is. Like environment generation or exploring some worlds, XR is an incredible way to work with AI-generated data. For Shapes in particular, we are rapid prototyping. If you can build even faster, meaning we can generate models on the fly, we can build environments on the fly; we can co-ideate with AI.

For example, I'm a UX designer, and I have an idea of how my user interface should look like. Then, with the voice command, I talk to my AI assistant, and I ask him from that prompt to generate more ideas, and then we work together. It's very, very powerful. Given that in pre-production, we do not expect the models to have the final feel and look and to have what we can get from actual game engines, we can use that already today for 3D models, generations, sky boxes, and stuff.

My dream for the design use case is that in the design or creative world, we humans will be like directors in the orchestra. Right? I still want to own the flow, and I still want to own the story and the narrative as a UX designer, for example, but I don't want to waste my time searching for some models to explain my ideas or generating an environment to represent like, "Today, I need to represent a forest. Tomorrow, a medical reception room. The day after tomorrow, some other environment." This comes all on the flight, but I direct that, and I focus on the actual narrative and user journey as a designer, but this is more long-term.

Thanks to AI, no one will ever be alone again. Also, in Shapes, it's collaborative. If you're a designer and you come along, you can have your brainstorming companion. You can have your ideation pilot and design. Something super easy is, initially, as an intern that is educated on our own data and knows everything, how to do things in Shapes, helps you to become a heavy user in minutes like, "Oh, how do I snap that icon to the wall?" Then, you just see that, and you repeat it, or it's doing for you.

I think that it's so great that AI happened when XR is in such a stage right now that we already have affordable consumer headsets like Quest 3, for example. Right? Because people can do their Gaussian splat, scan a 3D model and immediately bring that in a headset to actually walk into that and explore that at scale. I think these two technologies are a happy marriage. Exploring what AI gives us in XR is very powerful, and it's also changed the interfaces like having voice prompt instead of text prompt in VR because no one is going to write any texts, for sure, in VR ever. I'm very excited, but I just don't think that for Shapes like, "Okay. This is the main." It's just the future.

Marc Petit:

Talking about the future, can you tell us what the future will be for Shapes? I know 2.0 is about to be released. Sign up for the beta. Still waiting.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

To set expectations right, when we released Shapes initially, that was, let's say a team of four people and MVP. Then, it was Quest 1 back in the day. It was not even mixed, really. We had to really redo foundations and our own architecture and UI. We now educate every other app out there on the market on how to build your app once with one UI system and the same UI. It doesn't matter if you are going to be in VR, in mixed reality, in augmented reality, or even in a web browser. It doesn't matter if you're going to have two controllers, one control and one tracked hand, or just hands. It's the same product. This actually was not that easy to do to redefine your design in such a way that your UI is super delightful. Whatever input type you have or whatever device you are using, you always design for the most limited use case when your field of use is limited and when you don't have controllers.

Lots of games don't even pause it to put to Apple Vision Pro today because they say like, "Why should we?" They don't have controllers. We are not going to rebuild everything and stuff. Shapes 2.0 is truly a cross-platform product that is going to be available on various platforms. I'm not going to say more. It will be the same UI. You don't have to relearn anything. It's the same Shapes for whatever type of input or device you have.

We can afford more, meaning that we now target Quest 3, Apple Vision Pro, and such. It means that we have a completely new library of assets, meaning it's much more visually appealing. It's also going to be probably the first time I mentioned that procedural primitive, so you can shape anything, right?

It's a lot of performance optimization, how spaces load, and how many people can do stuff and models you can bring in. It's a lot of optimization, and it'll be much more advanced prototyping coming to different types of interactions that you can do in Shapes, but 2.0 is 2.0. It's just like the first step because I'm already more in 2.3. The whole new UI is going to allow us to add new features and functionality on the fly. Because at some point, we got stuck with our previous… it was not scalable. Now, we can move so much faster, but we had to do that entire redesign to afford that.

Long-term, we are ready for any new device coming to the market. Stylus is going to be the future of the pen. Okay, then it's just there. Any new device you invent or know new controllers doesn't matter. It should be on the fly. It's really about more high-end prototyping, the fidelity of the prototype, and the interaction that you can build in Shapes, and so much more coming.

Marc Petit:

What kind of technology stack are you using? Are you building everything on your own, or...

Inga Petryaevskaya:

No. We are Unity-based, but we have a lot of proprietary things. For example, we have our own networking system. It's our own voiceover IP and real-time synchronization. This story actually was a pretty great time when we were building collaborative view, and we tried everything that was available as plugins or stuff. It was all SDK; even given from Meta or Unity or Tvori, it kept failing for our needs. Our needs are like no letters. You just built real-time. You don't fill in any letters. It doesn't matter. Fifteen people, you grab a cube, I change the color, and you change the material. It's all absolutely truly real-time, and we spent a lot of time on that optimization and building our own.

We have a lot of properties by default; it's a Unity-based app. Architecture-wise, we have revised our architecture now, and it's more like abstraction and modality, and it's super, super scalable. Our backend is AWS, but we're also enterprise-ready. You can imagine enterprise-ready means that everything encrypts it. Everything complied. Everything has to be interface-ready from an architecture standpoint.

We are super serious about that because our clients are pushing 2,000 companies with security sign-offs, pentests on our infrastructure, vulnerability scans, and all of those types of things.

Marc Petit:

Releasing and being very responsive to user feedback is probably, in my experience, has always been the most rewarding.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

Exactly. I'm so grateful to our community. They keep saying the future of design is probably too far into the future because it's actually designed in collaboration and mixed reality. They are so worried about that. They really so much want us to succeed, our users, that they're so supportive and so helpful. They share their feedback. We ran those user tests. We iterate all the time. We got the feedback from three user tests today. We go to Shapes. We try different options. We bring them in Shapes, another user test, and then we just rebuild things. Very, very high speed of iterations that we try to do.

Probably what we release with 2.0 in one month, we can redefine our UI a little bit. Now, it'll not cost us anything. That was the major idea behind it. Now, we can reshape things in Shapes without any issue.

Patrick Cozzi:

Your passion shows through really well, and I appreciate everything you're doing to support the XR community.

We have a great audience here for the podcast. Is there any message you'd like to convey to the XR community and those interested in ShapesXR?

Inga Petryaevskaya:

If we succeed at Shapes, the XR community will succeed because we are building Shapes for them, and that's why I hope that they just focus on solving real problems because it's probably too early to create a market for non-existing problems in XR because of the installed base of the headsets.

Let's say 30 million headsets; it should be a real, real problem so that you have a sense of urgency for your users to go for it. The market is pretty challenging just to do something extremely cool, but probably too early. What I was also doing before, that's important.

Resilience and patience. The XR community is very supportive. Reach out to me if you want to talk about, let's say XR. Probably, I can help. It's very supportive, like I can shout out Nanea Reeves, the founder of TRIPP. I really admire this woman, who is super successful as an XR pioneer and one of the first investors in Oculus. I remember I met her at some event probably two years ago and I’m like, "I'm building this ShapesXR tool." Being ex-executive and the CEO of the Treat Meditation app, which is very successful, they really grow nicely.

I started to pitch to her Shapes and she's like, "Okay. I'm going to try it." I'm like, "Okay. Probably, she will never try it." Then, on Sunday, two days later, she's like, "Oh, I spent three hours in Shapes. I've been using Figma. Every designer should use Shapes." It is unbelievable how hands-on some XR founders are and how much they love the tech and appreciate the need. That inspires me daily when founders of XR companies, they're really obsessed with XR. You have to be obsessed with XR. Because otherwise, this market is just disappointment.

Marc Petit:

Great. You see, Patrick, we have guests who do the shootout who don't even have to ask anymore.

Patrick Cozzi:

I know when you're involved in these emerging technologies, I love that the communities are so supportive. Right? That's great.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

Right now, it's so much safer for any new people who want to start something in XR to join. We have so many headsets, and those are standalone hats. It's affordable and accessible. This is a fascinating industry because when you talk to your clients, when you meet users, when you learn how people use this technology, it's a pity that we can't talk about every use case because all these big companies sometimes don't want to speak about their competitive advantage, but you understand that it's literally not possible on flat screen.

If this is not the future, then I'm questioning what is going to be the future.

Marc Petit:

Well, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to you, Inga, for sharing your expertise and vision with us today. Shapes is not just revolutionizing collaborative design but also shaping the future of immersive technologies.

Your insights have been invaluable. We're super grateful for your time, and we look forward to witnessing the continued success and innovation of Shapes under your guidance.

Thank you very much for being with us today.

Inga Petryaevskaya:

Thank you. It was my pleasure. Thank you so much.

Marc Petit:

A huge thank you, of course, to our ever-growing audience.

You can find us on all the podcast platforms on YouTube. If you want to reach out to us, use our website,, or our LinkedIn page.

Inga, thank you so much. Patrick, thank you so much. We'll see you all for the next episode of Building the Open Metaverse. Thank you.