Three UBC Engineering alumni team up to create real-time altered realities

Marilyn Monroe speaking perfect mandarin? Dean James Olson welcoming students with the help of a floating car? These are just a few of the ways that this alumni start-up is breaking new ground in AI 

Marilyn Monroe in Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
Marilyn Monroe in Don't Bother to Knock (1952) from the July 1953 issue of Modern Screen

Imagine a future where the barriers of translation no longer exist. Where you can watch a live video from anywhere in the world, translated into your language of choice instantly. And you’d hardly even notice that they were speaking a different language.

For Karen, Patrick and Peter, that future is only months away, as their AI technology company is about to break through on real-time facial translation software.

These UBC Engineering alumni met at UBC in 1995. Karen was working toward an undergraduate degree in bioresource engineering, Patrick his MASc and Peter his PhD. 

Back then, the internet business boomed and AI as we think of it today existed as just a sci-fi pipe dream. UBC has always been a place to explore new ideas, and a number of their colleagues and instructors at that time pursued dot-com era dreams. That start-up spirit helped inspire their desire for collaboration.

 “We all specialize in different areas. Peter and Patrick are more on the technical, while I’m more in the finance side,” says Karen.

Patrick and Peter outside the Zyetric office
Karen and Patrick working

Their first successful business, P2 Mobile Technologies, was sold to a Hong Kong public company in 2016 Now, they are breaking ground in untapped areas of AI as co-founders of their current venture: Zyetric Technologies. 

“I always have new ideas coming out of my research. However, some of them aren’t commercially viable,” says Peter. “Patrick is a very practical hands-on guy. So it's a good match between the three of us.”

Zyetric Technologies started with a focus on a new form of in-video advertising that fits smoothly into the background of influencer or KOL (Key Opinion Leader) videos. Unlike annoying pop ups or pauses, the ads prevent sudden disruptions and are visible right behind the speaker, where people are watching. 

How does it all come together? Our own Dean James Olson has volunteered to show how it works. Be sure to wait for a surprise visitor in the background:

And that’s just the beginning of where Zyetric is headed.

“The entire vision is that we invent and develop a whole bunch of AI technologies, then use those to implement products, like advertising,” says Patrick.

Their next upcoming product is real-time facial translation. This AI tool translates not just audio, but also alters the face of the speaker, making it appear as though they are seamlessly speaking in another language.

While other AI translation software exists, Zyetric’s technology is much less blurry and will be the first of its kind capable of translating in realtime. Picture any movie or TV series from around the world instantly available in your language. This also opens up opportunities for translation on live videos, including livestreaming ecommerce, a big trend in China that could see a larger influence across the world. 

“Peter's team is very close to making this real time. I believe just three to four months away. We’re raising funds to continue on this route right now,” says Patrick.

Zyetric is on the cusp of an exciting turn, and that relentless spirit of adventure is what brought them to pursue entrepreneurship. It’s something they hope to pass along to other students and alumni, just as it was passed on to them.

“If you ask for my advice, you just have to do it,” says Patrick. “It's kind of fun, it's kind of a roller coaster. But if you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to be able to accept that kind of pressure.”


To learn more about Zyetric Technologies, visit

To learn more about entrepreneurship within UBC Applied Science, visit the HATCH Venture Builder.

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