Who would’ve thought that the term Holographic Virtual Reality (TM) was still there to be taken by 8i?
Equally (except we’re sort of now used to it), who would’ve thought four non-New Zealanders, who together form 8I, and who now call Wellington home, would have come together to help build the improved visual engine to power the Oculus Rift virtual reality head-mounted display.
The Oculus was initially funded through Kickstarter in 2012, and in March Facebook stumped up with $400m in cash plus $1.6bn in Facebook stock to buy the company who aims to puts the head-mounted display’s price within the reach of gamers (among other things).
Making the display, but more importantly the background code that enables the holographicness is therefore a big, complicated, maths-heavy, piece of work. The May 5 announcement on the 3D leap forward is notable.
The four person co-founder team that’s more or less self-assembled is top shelf stuff.
Australian-born Linc Gasking started and sold out of a highly success San Francisco net-based startup.
He’s recently written a self-funded study and report on “Five ways New Zealand can accelerate a sustainable high-tech ecosytem”, is a co-founder of Free Range Farms, a space, place and pace for startups, and also of Chalkle, a community based learning/teaching platform.
Joshua Feast, is a Kiwi, who has been based in Boston for a while involved in tech ventures.
Sebastian Marino, the Chief Creative Officer brings some serious applied maths and visual effects grunt to the team. He won a 1999 Academy Award for his work on virtual clothing in a Star Wars movie, and provided much of the algorithms and computation behind 77 Pieces – a 2D to 3D modelling tool that allows shows what a flat patterned piece of cut out cloth will look like as part of a pair of jeans (for example).
I’ve not met Chief Scientist Eugene d’Eon, but Mr Google reveals a Lord of the Rings involvement as well as numerous (solo and shared) publications in computer science journals with names such as ‘A layered, heterogeneous relfectance model for acquiring and rendering human skin’.
We’re very lucky these guys have chosen to base themselves here. They could set up wherever they please, so whatever secret-ether Wellington’s emitting to attract and retain this sort of talent should be bottled.
They’ll be calling on the home-grown and imported talent pool to help develop the next iteration of the Oculus Rift, and deliver a consumer product.
As Linc Gasking said in the press release, 8i is acquiring deep technology from Oculus. But equally, 8i it is also adding its own expertise, boosted to by the team it is building….people who among other work gigs have been immersed in building the 3D Avatar movie.
Oculus, and in turn Facebook don’t just choose any old random to do this sort of work.
Keep an eye on these guys as they capitalise on a time, place and collective brains sychronocity and synergy.
If we do this right, and not put the word innovation anywhere near 8i, Wellington and New Zealand could create a commercial 3D nucleus as the company scales the opportunity to make Holographic Virtual Reality the real deal.