AWS Startups Blog

8i brings holograms to a living room near you

8i CEO Steve RaymondBeam me up, Scotty. You might not know it now, but these could be the four most influential words in the English language today.

At least that’s what Steve Raymond, CEO of 8i, is shooting for. Helming one of the most pioneering companies in AR and VR, Raymond envisions a future where people interact with 3D holograms of people that look and feel as if they’re actually in the room with you.

And while this may seem like science-fiction, Raymond and the 8i team see a near-future where holograms are as commonplace as computers and phones. “We believe in a world where a lot of the things we currently do in 2D will ultimately become immersive or 3D,” Raymond says. “Rather than interacting with avatars or computer-generated models of people, we see people interacting with holograms, with 100% fidelity to the actual person.”

The secret behind 8i’s approach is what they call volumetric video, an idea born out of the visual effects industry and the limitations of computer-generated content. As CG became more and more life-like it required more and more investment in specialized technology and people. Clearly, there was a need to find a new way to recreate human content in a more scalable way.

They landed on a proprietary technology that adds another dimension to conventional video, recording depth in addition to color and x-y coordinates. The technique transforms video from cameras into 3D holograms with true volume, viewable from any angle. “The real insight was discovering that the only thing that truly scales is using video as an input to software,” Raymond says. “We can’t have a whole bunch of human intervention that takes place in the middle.”

8i’s technology makes holograms much more realistic and much quicker compared to other technologies. And just like conventional video, 8i’s holograms can be used to record experiences or to communicate with others in real time. “With video, I can capture the first day of school for my kids to watch five years later, or I can FaceTime with my friends. We can do the exact same thing with holograms,” Raymond says.

In fact, 8i has already created consumer-ready holograms that run the gamut from seeing how a new pair of pants would fit to exploring Mars with Buzz Aldrin.

But Raymond sees the potential for his work extending beyond just video. He sees it completely integrated into our day-to-day. “Today, you have a phone in your pocket. You’re able to consume video and interact socially with it,” he says. “But you always have to look down at your phone. Instead of looking down on your phone, imagine it’s all integrated, everywhere around you.”

In related news, the Starship Enterprise is currently accepting applications.

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung currently works in startup content at AWS and was previously the head of content at Index Ventures. Prior to joining the corporate world, Michelle was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, the founding Business Editor at the Huffington Post, a correspondent for The Boston Globe, a columnist for Publisher’s Weekly and a writer at Entertainment Weekly.