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The startup that wants to turn TikTok holographic

3D hologram startup TetaVi has just secured $6m in new funding, and plans to bring holography to new mediums.

By Freya Pratty

TetaVi, an Israeli startup which makes 3D holograms, has just secured $6m in new funding, and it’s got its sights set on a new area for holography — social media, and TikTok in particular. 

Founded in 2016, TetaVi is based in Tel Aviv but has studios in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo, and the recent funding round brings the total investment in the company to $11.3m. So far, it’s created holograms for esports, fashion retailers, gaming and entertainment.

It also, a few months ago, created a 3D hologram of the Israeli President which members of the public posed for photos with. 

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TetaVi is part of the expanding augmented reality (AR) market — where real-world objects are enhanced by computer-generated content — and the virtual reality (VR) market, where an entirely virtual experience is created. 

According to Gilad Talmon, chief executive of TetaVi, the AR/VR market is worth $18.8bn this year. Within that, there are startups working on everything from entertainment and gaming to holographic video software, and even holograms of organs for medical operations. 

Video holograms, Talmon explains, capture 3D representations of people that are then inserted into a 3D environment – either AR or VR. “It’s a video that consists of a sequence of 3D models rather than a sequence of 2D pictures,” he explains. 

This could have big implications for social media, TetaVi believes. “Imagine a TikTok challenge that allows you to put an influencer’s hologram in your living room or favourite outdoors spot so you can interact with them, dancing together or producing a joint scene,” says Talmon. 

“Consumers will also be able to put their own holograms into social media,” he says. “It has the potential of bringing creativity in social networks to an entirely new level, with 3D special effects over AR and 3D graphics engines.”

Whilst they continue to work on social media holography, the company has seen an increase in demand for the holograms they’re already creating for clients, Talmon says. The coronavirus is one factor behind this, he believes, because it’s sparked users on to seek out new forms of content.

Beyond that, there’ve been significant advances in technology that allow holographic video to play on mobile phones, Talmon says, which have been critical to the rise in interest in the technology.

At the same time, 5G networks have made the streaming of 3D content more possible, whereas before companies had struggled to send the information over networks. 

Among the other startups working on holography is Realview Imaging, also based in Israel, which produces holograms of organs for medical use. The hologram appears as a spatially-accurate representation of an organ, floating above a patient during surgery, and allows the surgeon to rotate and slice the hologram during the procedure. 

Elsewhere, there’s Mimesys, a Belgian startup that was acquired last year by US spatial computing company Magic Leap. Mimesys make volumetric software for videos calls people wearing headsets are able to visualise 3D representations of each other as they video call from different locations. 

In Holland, there’s also Holofill, who create table-top holographic displays to showcase objects — food in restaurants or jewellery in shops, for example.

In the UK there’s VividQ — a team of computer scientists from Oxford and Cambridge’s universities are working on 3D holograms for use in cars, as well as the aerospace industry and gaming. 

TetaVi’s Talmon hopes that, in the next few years, we’ll start to see holographic video in more places, and the technology will become easier to use.

“We believe that in five years holographic video creation will be fully democratized and it will no longer require complex, professional systems,” he says. “We hope, and are working hard to ensure that in five years holographic video will be everywhere.”

 

Freya Pratty covers news at Sifted. She has previously interned at Bloomberg and tweets from @FPratty

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