8i Raises $27 Million to Create Holo: Holograms for Your Phone

by Joe Durbin • February 13th, 2017

Holographic technology company 8i is announcing today that it has raised a $27 million series B round of fundraising for the development of new products including its new smartphone hologram program: Holo.

Holo’s tagline encourages users to: mix your world with holograms. According to 8i, Holo is a:

“…Consumer mobile app that gives people an easy way to create mixed reality content with holograms of their favorite celebrities, brands, and characters. Holo lets users add holograms to their real-world environments and take videos and photos they can share with friends across their social channels and messaging apps.”

Part of the technology that enables Holo’s dynamic AR imaging is Google’s Project Tango. Tango is a unique system of cameras, depth sensors and software that is being built into more and more smartphones. Holo’s beta is currently being tested by select users on the Tango-enabled Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The purpose of the beta, according to 8i, is to see, “how users interact with the new technology and a limited selection of sample 3D holograms.”

Later this year, however, the company plans to release “a new version of the app with content partners and programming later this year on Tango-enabled smartphones, and other mobile devices.”

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8i made headlines last month when it announced its new CEO Steve Raymond as well as a Seattle-based research facility that seems to be working on bringing holographic telepresence to mass-communications. As one of the first 8i products to ever release, Holo will continue 8i’s apparent mission: to create high quality holograms and show the world the many ways they can be used.

Holo itself seems to be mostly a Snapchat-esque entertainment product that focuses primarily on giggling with your friends as goofy holograms prance across your screen. However, there is serious technological innovations behind those giggles. Tango is one of the most important AR systems in existence today, and the widespread distribution of high-quality holograms has never truly been attempted on a consumer level. Holo may seem innocent, but it’s also a chance for 8i to introduce holograms to the world and whet our collective appetites for what’s coming next.

8i’s $27 million series B was raised with Time Warner Investments, with participation from Baidu Ventures (its very first VR/AR investment), Hearst Ventures, Verizon Ventures, One Ventures, Carsten Maschmeyer’s Seed & Speed Ventures, and existing investors.

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  • pineanas

    Why do they call a video editor, adding a layer of animated content in AR in with camera match a hologram though?
    There is no light field encoding and full 3d image display here…
    Pretty confusing, many apps like that are out already.
    On the other hand, they call that electric skateboard a hoverboard, without it actually hovering so there’s that…

    • amysez

      Thanks for the comment. The holograms are actually 3D rendered assets. A human performance is captured volumetrically with an array of cameras pointing. The video streams are processed by 8i’s software and reconstructed into a single photorealistic 3D asset that can be played back in AR or VR. The hologram has full volume and depth so the viewer can walk completely around it as if in the same room. – Amy from 8i

  • Mark Metry

    Quite interesting. Interested in seeing the future of this stuff considering we are just on the verge of developing all of this wonderful technology.