New Zealand-based holographic-tech startup 8i has raised AU$27 million from the series B round of investment, through media, technology, and telecommunications capital venture firms.
Led by Time Warner and other strategic investors, such as Baidu, Hearst, Verizon, One Ventures, Seed & Speed, the funding will allow 8i to launch an augmented reality mobile app called Holo, which will allow users to bring users to bring holograms of celebrities to life.
The app was announced at the Code Media conference in Southern California earlier this week and is expected to launch later this year. The app will let user’s record videos and enable the integration of everyday surroundings with movie characters and scenes, that is, bringing them into the real world.
8i has been adopting a technology called ‘volumetric capture’ that has several cameras on a character and complies the pictures together to create a three-dimensional model that can be projected into any environment.
As explained by CEO Steve Raymond, is that users could “put a hologram of someone famous, funny, or talented, in [their own] environments and create [their own] short-form videos [to] share out to social.” He says,
As consumers are augmenting, mixing, and creating new content on their smartphones on a massive scale, mobile presents an unparalleled opportunity for distribution of holograms.
On the series funding, Raymond further states:
We’re thrilled to have the strategic expertise and backing of leaders in media, technology, and communications as we bring audiences new ways to create and engage with content. With this global round, we look forward to partnering with our investors from the U.S., China, Europe, and Australia as we bring our technology to consumers worldwide.
The startup has been focusing on headset-based solutions, but through the launch of the Holo app will be now moving into phone-based augmented reality systems.
The app is currently in the early stages, with testing being done on augmented reality computing platform, Tango. The beta tests will see how users interact with the app and sample 3D holograms.
In an interview with a leading daily, Chief Operations Officer Toni Moyes said that the app is expected to see an initial peek across US and Asia. Moyes says,
We see Holo as a two-sided marketplace for holograms. For consumers, Holo provides a fun way to express themselves by creating and sharing a new type of content with holograms of their favorite celebrities, bands, and characters. For businesses, or more specifically for influencers across entertainment, music and sports, Holo provides a new way for them to engage their Gen Z audiences and drive user generated content around their brand.