AI And Virtual Reality Being Bet Upon By Chinese Tech Giant Baidu

The next big developments in technology is the artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented and virtual realities (AR/VR), believes many tech giants and visionaries and such people and firms have been rallying around these two technologies and keeping a close eye on the day to day development in this aspect.

One such company that is envisioned to be leader in this technology is 8i, which develops holographic technology for VR and AR and the latest large company to join the call is Chinese internet giant Baidu, whose venture unit announced Tuesday that it had participated in a $27 million Series B funding of 8i. Shot from multiple cameras and angles, into photo-realistic 3D holograms, its technology transforms high-definition videos of people.

In order to invest in early-stage companies working on AI, AR and VR, Baidu established its venture capital fund, Baidu Ventures, last September.

Daisy Cai, partner at Baidu Ventures, explained the investment to the media.

“It makes 3D models of people that you can view through your VR headsets or you can also play or interact with on your AR application on your smartphone,” Cai said of the company.

Holo app, which will bring the imaging technology to mobile devices, is expected to be launched by the start-up this year. By adding holograms of their favorite celebrities, characters and bands into their real world environments, users can create mixed reality content from their .

In addition to working with 8i on future product development, Baidu will also provide financial backing. With offices in the two countries in the cities of Los Angeles in the U.S. and Wellington in New Zealand, this tech start-up was founded in 2014.

Research from Citi predicted last year that the market for VR technology could be a trillion dollar industry by 2035.

According to Cai, for the $200 million first fund and Baidu Ventures, AI is the other big area of focus for Baidu.

From connected homes, medical devices and robots, to common applications like face recognition tools to automated cars, the term AI covers a broad variety of developments that are currently taking place. She said that other uses of AI are also being looked into by Baidu Ventures.

“We are looking at companies (that) use artificial intelligence algorithms in their drug discovery technology, so it can significantly shorten the drug discovery cycle,” said Cai, adding it could help to cut down the cost. She did not mention any company by name.

As the trend of companies and their attempts to capture, analyse and monetize the vast streams of data generated over the last several years grows and expands, venture capital investments in China will move increasingly into AI in 2017, KPMG said in a report  last month.

(Adapted from CNBC)


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