3D reconstruction technology start-up Owlii “delivered” celebrities to Tmall users’ home

Owlii’s 3D imaging technology makes social interaction possible in AR.

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3D reconstruction technology start-up Owlii “delivered” celebrities to Tmall users’ home

Writer: Shi Yaqiong

Alibaba beat last year’s record in this past Singles’ Day with sales reaching up to $25.3 billion. Meanwhile, the Singles’ Day Countdown Gala is offering more to watch too.

It was the third pre-Singles’ Day gala held by Alibaba. In addition to the shopping coupons and superstar performance seen in previous events, this year’s gala offered a special opportunity for viewers to interact with celebrities up close. In a sense, Alibaba “delivered” the actress Fan Bingbing to users’ home.

The segment, named “Stars in Your Home”, allowed viewers to pose for pictures with two stars performing live on stage — Fan Bingbing and Celina Jade (Lu Jingshan)– across the screens from their homes.

The dynamic reconstruction technology powering the segment was developed by a start-up named Owlii. Founded in early 2016, Owlii specializes in 3D interaction technologies with the aim of enabling 3D image-based entertainment and communication.

The main technology behind the cross-screen interaction was Owlii’s 3D reconstruction of dynamic human subjects, also known as volumetric capturing. Owlii independently developed the whole system, including the capturing, reconstruction, compression, transmission and rendering technologies, and was able to deliver better imaging and compression quality, especially on mobile devices.

Here’s how “Stars in You Home” was made possible:

  1. The two celebrities arrived at Owlii’s office before the event, where pictures of them were taken using Owlii’s independently developed depth-sensing cameras.
  2. The pictures were uploaded to a cloud server for reconstruction and compression.
  3. The realistic videos were then distributed by Alibaba to its Tmall client and presented to the users after being processed by Taobao app’s render engine and Owlii’s decode engine.

Owlii provided multiple versions of the videos in different compression formats to fit varying mobile devices. The largest of the videos had a bit rate of lower than 5Mbps after compression.

Owlii’s Mobile AR visual solution, which is developed on the basis of its independent 3D reconstruction technology, has come into fruition and is compatible with most of the mainstream mobile lens. Currently, Owlii is advancing towards such industries as advertising, film making and the others by offering tailored visual solutions (Case by Case). To Owlii, mobile AR is still a virgin land that harbors loads of opportunities, and it is poised to march further into such mobile AR territories as advertising, IP content and consumer products.

Owlii’s strategic outlook:

  • In 2017-2018, Owlii will center specifically on the development of Mobile AR/MR technology, hoping that it will inspire users to create more UGC (user generated content).
  • In 2019, Owlii plans to roll out its VR/AR headset for teleconference. The headset is equipped with its 3D dynamic capturing technology which is engineered to not miss any single facial expression and movement of conference participants, so your workmates on the headsets or other display terminals won’t appear so distant.

 

(video credit to Owlii)

Owlii’s vision is to pry open the world of virtual social networking with its Mobile AR and AR/VR telepresence, thus bringing into the real world the once fictional holodeck, the virtual world for entertainment and communication depicted in the Blade Runner.

The team members of Owlii are all elites from Chinese and North American top universities who have extensive experience in computer vision, graphics, multi-media, high performance computing and the others. Owlii has, so far, raised millions of dollars in its Pre-A financing round. The investors include ZhenFund, Shunwei, WI Harper Group and the Arena Capital.

Written by Shi Yaqiong