By Evan DeSimone
The buzz surrounding virtual reality continues to grow with investors sinking millions into technology and content ahead of what is expected to be the medium’s breakout year in 2016. The latest to benefit from this deluge of enthusiasm is 3D VR startup 8i, which has raised 13.5 million series A funding in a round lead by RRE Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Dolby Family Ventures.
The San Francisco and New Zealand-based virtual startup specializes in developing the human side of virtual reality. 8i has developed a process by which standard video cameras can be used to capture three dimensional images of real human beings to be incorporated into immersive virtual experiences. These high detail human representations can be used on any virtual platform from the highly-anticipated Oculus Rift, Vive and Gear VR headsets to 360-degree mobile video players.
The company has also announced the launch of a dedicated content studio in Culver City, Ca., bringing its virtual brand to Los Angeles, the global hub for both digital and traditional entertainment. However, despite dabbling in the creation of content, 8i isn’t aiming to become a production studio. Instead, the firm is perfecting its technology in order to build a digital platform for 3D content.
The ability to bring lifelike human faces and physicality into a three dimension virtual space is a significant frontier in the interactive virtual space. While much virtual content focuses on creating immersive environments, the opportunity to generate virtual interactions that read as genuine opens the door to new avenues of both content and communication.