The Irish app. Dozens of cameras surround the topic and capture a 360-degree video of its size and volume. The many points of view are then combined to provide a digital 3D image. Typically, specialists at a professional studio perform the process, which is both time-consuming and costly.
However, this may be about to change, as Volograms, an Irish business, has made the process available to anybody with an iPhone via its free app Volu. Volograms claims it is the first content creation tool capable of transforming regular mobile video into augmented reality, having debuted on the App Store in September and soon to be accessible on Android.
While the phone camera only collects footage from one viewpoint, the software employs artificial intelligence to predict a person’s 3D shape and texture in areas where the camera cannot see. It employs algorithms that have been trained on thousands of human models captured in the professional studios of Vologram. The moving image is then converted to a hologram, or what the firm refers to as a “vologram.”
Users can then manipulate the vologram in novel ways, such as downsizing or growing the figure and superimposing it on any backdrop, using filters that vary the transparency or colour of the image, and combining realities by inserting a virtual doppelganger into a regular film.The aim, says Rafael Pagés, the company’s CEO and co-founder, is to make augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) content creation available to the everyday consumer.
“We wanted to build something that anyone, not just experts, could use to produce, play with, and share material,” he tells CNN Business.
Volu is also responding to an increasing demand for AR and VR content. According to a survey from market research firm eMarketer, about 60 million individuals in the United States alone will use VR and more than 90 million will use AR at least once per month this year — a 36 percent and 28 percent increase, respectively, over 2019.
However, Volograms, which claims to have raised €2.3 million ($2.7 million) in funding since its inception in 2018, is one of the few companies making volumetric capture accessible to the general public. The Irish app. is free, but the business hopes to provide paid-for “premium features.” Volograms’ major source of revenue is still its professional studio service.
“Giving them the tools now so they can access [the technology] on their phones and generate this material is incredibly powerful,” she says to CNN Business.
Pagés hopes that by lowering the obstacles to entry, Volu will empower a “new generation of innovators” and alter communication as we know it.