Have you ever been in the middle of an experience and thought “I wish I could preserve this moment forever?” Currently what you’ll do is pull out your phone and snap a few pictures for the various snaps and grams available to you online. But what if you could bottle that moment exactly as it happened in three dimensions and play it back at your convenience? What if you could stand next to your daughter on the alter at her wedding anytime “Butterfly Kisses” comes on the radio? What if you never had to miss a first step, first word or little league game ever again? What if you had Owlii.
Owlii is an emerging startup that debuted its technology this week on the show floor at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. The basic concept of the product is that it uses a image capture process to turn physical moments into 3D remembrances that can be replayed using a virtual or augmented reality headset. Owlii representatives explained to us on the floor that these realistic 3D images are not created using photogrammetry — the typical “camera cage” process for creating photorealistic assets for VR. Instead, they describe their unique application as “holographic/volumetric capture for VR/AR, targeting 3D memory and telepresence.”
At CES, we saw two Owlii demos. The first was running on an HTC Vive and the second on Microsoft’s HoloLens. The Vive demo was by far the more impressive experience. Inside the Vive, we found ourselves standing in a digital living room. In front of the couch tastefully stylish couch and coffee table we were treated to a revolving door of important life moments: a man and women get married, a baby takes its first steps, two friends graduate high school, etc.
The images looked slightly grainy, like a collection of particles that might burst apart at any moment, but the dreaded “uncanny” valley was kept mostly in check and the images became quite believable over time. In fact, the promotional images you see in this story are actually a surprisingly correct depiction of what you actually see inside the headset.
What really seems appealing about Owlii is the idea of seeing these scenes play out with people that you actually know. Combining the Owlii tech with that kind of familiarity could be a truly game changing experience. The Owlii reps on the show floor did also say that there process is something that normal people will be able to do with relative ease and won’t require thousands of dollars of custom hardware.
Owlii is slated for an unspecified release in 2017.