Samsung Ventures chips in to NZ VR startup 8i funding round

New Zealand's 8i landed NZ$20 million in its series A funding round, and is expecting to use the cash injection to continue making virtual reality 'more human', and expand its engineering team.

8i, a Wellington-based virtual reality (VR) startup has raised NZ$20 million in its series A funding round.

Global investors in 8i's first funding round included the likes of Samsung Ventures, RRE Ventures, Founders Fund Science, Horizons Ventures, and Dolby Family Ventures.

"As the internet transitions to 3D with adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) platforms, we want to give people the best way to connect in this new medium," 8i founder and CEO Linc Gasking said.

8i said it is building a consumer media platform to allow users to create, experience, and share immersive 3D video of real people.

"8i records people in a new, more advanced approach than cinematic 3D, allowing viewers to move around freely and experience an authentic feeling of emotional connection with the person they're watching," Gasking said.

"We're excited to see how creators will take this next step in the evolution of media."

The Wellington startup's proprietary software transforms regular video from off-the-shelf cameras into "realistic" experiences for VR, AR, and the web. 8i said it is the first to enable true, fully volumetric, 3D video of people.

"Such technology enables the freedom to move around in a VR environment," the company said.

With staff hailing from places such as YouTube, NVIDIA, PayPal, Microsoft Research, Sony Computer Entertainment, DreamWorks, and Pixar, 8i said it is also expanding its engineering team, particularly in New Zealand, and expects to utilise local Wellington talent.

"What they have achieved is what media companies see as the holy grail of virtual reality. I'm excited to see what the next generation is going to create with it." Jim Robinson of RRE Ventures said.