A tech start-up has raised $27m (£22m, €26m) in second-round funding for an augmented reality (AR) app that lets users insert holograms into pictures and videos captured with their smartphone.
Holo, which is due to be released later this year by creators 8i, lets you map your surroundings using your phone's camera and then add "photorealistic" 3D characters on top. It's somewhat similar to Pokemon Go, which projects AR creatures into the real world using your smartphone's camera.
8i CEO Steve Raymond told Variety that the app would allow users to bring celebrities and YouTube personalities right into their living rooms, which sounds ambitious, if not a little creepy.
The company has released a demo of the app that offers a taste of what's in store.
Holo is currently in beta testing and initially will only work with phones that support Project Tango, Google's augmented reality platform for mobile devices. For now, this extends to the Lenovo Phab 2, although the Asus Zenfone AR, announced at CES 2017, should be joining it sometime this spring.
Raymond said that the app would eventually be extended to smartphones that don't pack specialist AR capabilities, which we again presume will work in a similar way to Pokemon Go. Still, Tango smartphone users will get the fully fledged experience due to the fact these offer positional tracking and 3D mapping capabilities, allowing holograms to be placed more accurately into a physical space and making them appear more realistic.
8i's latest funding has come from the likes of Time Warner, Verizon and Chinese search giant Baidu, which suggests the company is worth keeping an eye on. It also has a couple of secretive virtual reality projects up its sleeve, which it plans to announce in the coming months.