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Today 8i showed off its technology for quickly rendering volumetric video for real-time hologram images. The Venice, California-based company makes tools that capture, transform, and stream holograms using volumetric or 3D video.
8i’s latest technology represents a fundamental advancement in volumetric video that enables the future of communication in 3D, where real people — not avatars — are broadcast live into immersive digital environments within seconds, the company said.
Historically, rendering volumetric video could take days, even weeks, to process a worthy asset. However, with 8i’s advancement in machine learning and computer vision, this once arduous process can now be completed within milliseconds, enabling people to be broadcast live in 3D.
Above: 8i can capture your image and convert it to a hologram.
Real-time holograms unlock a new way of content consumption, enabling participants to literally choose their viewpoint, zoom in and out, or even walk around the performer, speaker, or presenter, depending on which way they choose to interact — be it through browser, augmented reality, or virtual reality. The result is a profound shift for dozens of use cases for immersive experiences, including presentations and events, sports and entertainment, education and training, ecommerce, and more.
“Holograms are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Real-time holograms empower an entirely new range of experiences for consumers that will foster deeper communication and connection, put you in the front row of a concert or sporting event, eliminate barriers of entry and democratize open access to education, training, information, and resources — and ultimately level the playing field between the haves and have-nots,” said Hayes Mackaman, CEO of 8i, in a statement. “We are creating and delivering interactive content directly to the consumer. Consumers will be able to experience, interact with and replay content in a totally new, immersive way from any angle or perspective, ushering in a new era in the way society communicates, learns, works, and plays. Across all industries, there are multiple opportunities and use cases for real-time holograms to enhance our daily lives.”
How the real-time holograms work
Above: 8i’s capture cameras.
After having written about Light Field Labs‘ holograms, I realize there’s a lot of technical debate about what actually qualifies as a hologram. We’ll leave that aside for now and talk about how 8i’s tech works.
Within milliseconds, 8i’s technology records volumetric video from an array of computer vision cameras. It fuses the footage from multiple camera angles in real time into a single 3D asset. Then it leverages proprietary machine learning algorithms to compress the 3D footage into a streamable size, and lastly, distributes it to any device — either as a WebAR experience on a smartphone or tablet powered by 8th Wall, or as a WebXR experience through a VR headset or any web browser.
Use cases and applications for real-time holograms include: immersive keynotes and presentations, live 3D concerts and performances, live sports and entertainment events in 3D, immersive training and education experiences, personal fitness, live immersive shopping, and beyond.
Viewers can see a performer broadcast live inside of an immersive VR scene by wearing a head-mounted display (HMD), watch it through any web browser from any angle, or experience the performer in their physical space through augmented reality on their smartphone or tablet.
The announcement of real-time holograms took place at an event earlier today — “The World’s First Livestreamed Hologram Interview” — where Mackaman and 8th Wall CEO Erik Murphy-Chutorian were interviewed by AR/VR specialist Catherine Henry in real-time volumetric 3D video and broadcast live in front of a Zoom audience of senior executives across multiple industries, including technology, media and entertainment, and press, as well as AR/VR influencers.
The company was founded in 2014. Its customers include Softbank, the U.S. Army, Google, Verizon, and Walmart. Investors include One Ventures, Verizon, RRE, LG Tech Ventures, Founder’s Fund, and Hearst.