October 8, 2020 – Condense Reality, a virtual reality startup developing technology to transform how viewers watch live entertainment and sports, has announced that it has raised a seed round of more than GBP £800,000, including GBP £220,000 from SFC Capital, an active investor in seed-stage projects in the UK. The remaining funds come from two grant awards, together worth almost GBP £500,000, as well as smaller commitments from RLC Ventures and angel investors, according to Condense Reality, which added that the investment will see the company increase its R&D capabilities and commercialize its technology over the next 12 months.
Condense Reality has developed a system for streaming hologram-style 3D volumetric video of live events alongside a normal television broadcast, with the potential to bring entertainment and sport to life on a tabletop to complement the on-screen action. The company stated that BT Sport is its first customer, following a collaboration between Condense Reality, BT Sport, and the University of Bristol as part of a 5G Edge XR trial to demonstrate the potential of 5G to deliver more immersive live sport viewing experiences through augmented and virtual reality. Condense Reality added that it will initially focus on optimizing its technology for boxing, with other sports to follow.
Volumetric video creates a three-dimensional image that can be viewed by multiple people from different angles. Until recently, the capture process required fixed studios with green screens and hundreds of precisely-calibrated cameras, and often took days to process minutes of content for streaming. Condense Reality is one of a few companies working in the volumetric capture space that has developed a solution that enables broadcasters and content creators to capture and stream volumetric video in real time, outside the confines of a studio, and with far fewer cameras.
Condense Reality’s modular approach combines proprietary software with off-the-shelf hardware. Its CR Capture platform uses computer vision and deep learning to accurately reconstruct the contents of a scene in seconds, while CR Stream enables broadcasters to stream that content to viewers via their own augmented or virtual reality headsets – including Oculus, Vive, Microsoft Hololens and Magic Leap devices. The multi-platform CR Playback app then gives viewers control of the experience through a 3D UI.
Nick Fellingham, CEO of Condense Reality, said: “Our technology aims to bridge real and virtual worlds by enabling broadcasters to record live events as volumetric video and instantly stream them to viewers. Our initial focus has been on recording sports, in particular boxing, so to be working on this project with BT, one of the biggest boxing broadcasters in the world, is a huge opportunity. At a time when many sporting events cannot be viewed in stadiums, enhancing the communal viewing experience in the comfort of your own home is more timely than ever.”
Fellingham added, “We see a bright future for volumetric video, with modern augmented and virtual reality technology providing consumers with the necessary hardware to enjoy volumetric content to its fullest. This hardware continues to improve at a staggering rate, and the mooted launch of an Apple AR headset in 2022 could see adoption explode.”
Stephen Page, CEO at SFC Capital, commented: “SFC Capital prides itself on investing today in the innovations of tomorrow at their earliest stage – by investing in Condense Reality, we are not only investing as augmented reality becomes part of the home viewer experience, but as we begin our investment commitment in the regions. For years SFC Capital has believed in the quality of innovation going on all around the UK, not just in London as the epicentre of the investment ecosystem – and we have the receipts in the shape of a geographically diverse portfolio spanning the length and breadth of the country.”
For more information on Condense Reality and its real time volumetric capture streaming solutions, please visit the company’s website.
Image credit: Condense Reality