8i, a New Zealand and San Francisco-based virtual reality startup, has secured $13.5 million in Series A round of funding from a large group of investors that includes RRE Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Dolby Family Ventures.
Founded in 2014 by Linc Gasking, the startup 8i is a consumer media platform that allows people to create, experience and share lifelike 3D videos of real human beings. It takes normal videos of people and turns them into ‘realistic experiences’ for virtual and augmented reality devices and the web. The startup has built a process of recording 3D video with a number of standard cameras and with its help has started to build demonstrations of its technology that run anywhere from a Oculus Rift to a smartphone to any desktop browser.
Gasking said, “the recording will let viewers experience an authentic feeling of emotional connection with the person they are watching.” He continues, “A young mother recorded a heartfelt message to her baby, a musician captured an intimate unplugged session, a women who created the first VR dating profile. We are excited to see how creators will take this next step in the evolution of media.”
Along with the funding announcement, 8i also officially announced it launching of a new studio in Culver City. Based in New Zealand and San Francisco, the startup is opening operations in Los Angeles with its new studio.
But the company’s ultimate goals is not a production company. Rather, it just intends to build a platform for 3D content that can used by others to combine 3D into their apps and online experiences. Gasking in a blog post stated, “You won’t go to apple.com, but rather a virtual Apple Store, perhaps with a personal demonstration of the iPhone 10 from Jonny Ive. You’ll dance with Beyonce in your living room, virtually test drive a tesla with Elon Musk and watch your home team from your sofa with your favorite athlete by your side.”