Baidu Ventures, Baidu’s investment vehicle, is focussing on early stage investments in the AI, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) industries, and has announced its participation in the $27 million Series B investment in the US-based VR/AR firm 8i.
Besides financial backing, Baidu will also cooperate with the company on future product development.
To expand its technology investment business, Baidu has recently made three senior management appointments, including former partner of Legend Star, Wei Liu, as Baidu VP and Baidu Ventures’ CEO, with Yujie Qi, former co-founder of Duomeng Lianhe, and Daisy Cai, former executive director of Goldman Sachs and partner of TA Associates, serving as partners.
Founded in 2014 and dual-headquartered in Los Angeles, USA and Wellington, New Zealand, 8i focuses on developing its proprietary 3D human imaging technology, creating low-cost, high-definition 3D human imaging for large-scale applications. The company has developed a series of core algorithms for functions including image capture, stitching/patching and compression which are adaptable across all AR and VR platforms.
8i’s technology has supported major companies including L'Oreal and Time Inc in the areas of training and advertisement.
In 2017, 8i will launch its Holo mobile app, which will bring 3D imaging technology to mobile devices.
Baidu Ventures’ partner Daisy Cai said, “AI is at the core of AR technology. At Baidu, we believe AR technology will have applications across a wide range of industries. 8i’s advanced technology, R&D and management are all top-notch. With the opportunity of 8i’s global funding, Baidu is very excited to work with 8i and build a robust ecosystem together.”