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New Augmented Reality Focused Social Launched by Octi

Octi has developed a social networking platform that harnesses the power of augmented reality (AR) technology to bridge the gap between seeing friends in the physical world and observing digital content such as Spotify and YouTube offerings.

Speaking to TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha who had reported on Octi in 2018, the company’s CEO and co-founder Justin Fuisz said that investors egged him on to explore deeper possibilities and step up efforts. The startup has revealed raising funding of $12 million from investors, which includes the previously declared $7.5 million seed round fuelled by contributions from Peter Diamandis’ Bold Capital Partners, I2BF, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Day One Ventures, Human Ventures, Josh Kushner, Live Nation, Scott Belsky and Tom Conrad.

Fuisz made a startling demonstration recently, which he regards as a key moment in Octi’s history. He launched an app on his iPhone and pointed the device’s camera at one of his colleagues. The application instantly recognised the woman and let Fuisz send a friend request to her. Upon the request being accepted, Fuisz pointed his camera at his friend again. The view now contained a floating strap of virtual objects including songs, videos and photos made by her.

The Octi augmented reality app also features a collection of stickers and exciting effects for its users. It lets your friend edit your profile to do fun activities like placing a funny hat on your head, or assigning a musical theme to give you motivation for the day.

Some features in Octi. Image source: Builtinla

Fuisz remarked that Octi is powered by cutting-edge neural network-based technology that facilitates an efficient and simple facial recognition experience. This enables the application to perform swift image processing on one’s device as opposed to cloud-based processing, which translates to better privacy protection. According to Fuisz, Octi has taken additional measures to fine-tune the AR-integrated recognition technology, by laying focus on friends-of-friends. It is a different approach compared to searching a network for everyone’s faces. This refined mechanism lets the application identify an individual in just 20 ms.

Octi users can remotely view their friends’ profiles, but the key focus of its experience deals with in-person communication. What reinforces this stance is a statement given by analyst Rich Greenfield that was publicised by the company. Greenfield lauded the app as providing a splendid technology that gives teenagers the impetus to gather with their friends whilst communicating with their phones. Fuisz was initially apprehensive about the development concept, as he wondered whether the social aspect would ramp up incidents of bullying and harassment. But he has allayed such fears for the moment, as profiles and virtual belts of Octi profiles are visible only to approved friends. He explained that users can just wave goodbye to Opti connections who are doing things they do not approve of.

Fuisz elaborated further, saying that the initial version of the development has laid the groundwork for various developments in the future. According to him, more fun activities and games can be developed. He is harbouring hopes to make his offering into a platform similar to WeChat, which enables external developers to generate content and social communication tools. Octi is currently available for Apple users with iPhone 7 and above. An Android version of the application is expected later in the year.

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