Octi Launches a Social Network Based on Augmented Reality
Every social media network offers a unique characteristic. Instagram is based on images, Facebook on posts or updates, Twitter on microblogging or short updates and Snapchat on its filters and images that disappear on being sent. Octi has created a new social network that leverages augmented reality which creates the ability to see your friends in real life and connects this to viewing digital content such as favoriting Spotify songs and YouTube videos.
Back in 2018, the company was busy building augmented reality technology that would better recognize the human body and movements. While this had been a cool feature, Octi’s investors had pushed the company to do more and immerse themselves deeper which has driven the company to come up with the social network.
A Different Way to Do Social Media
Octi’s augmented reality based social network encourages users to interact with one another in person using various fun augmented reality features.
The new app is simply referred to as ‘Octi’ and can be downloaded in the iOS App Store from Wednesday next week. The app leverages machine learning to detect if a person is standing in front of their camera (by tapping into movement recognition technology). If the person standing in front of the camera also happens to have an Octi account, then the user can send them a friend request. If they don’t have an account, the user can instead send them an invite.
Octi has a lightning-fast facial recognition experience that is powered by a “neural network on the edge”. The app is capable of processing images directly on the user’s device instead of doing it on the cloud. This helps speed up the processing and is great for privacy.
Octi also features an optimized search algorithm which begins with the user’s friends-of-friends. It then expands the search to the wider user base. The app is therefore able to identify a friend in a just a matter of 20 milliseconds. This unique feature has attracted lots of big-name investors. According to Octi CEO Justin Fuisz, the tool’s camera technology is its “special sauce” which provides core interaction.
When the app is opened and a person viewed via an iPhone camera, the app is capable of recognizing the user and even sending them a friend request. When the request is accepted and the user looks at the subject through the camera, they can see the subject surrounded by virtual items that the user has created with songs, videos and photos.
The Octi app enables users to include stickers and fun effects. Friends can also change your profile and make you wear some funny hat. They can even give users some uplifting theme song for the day.
Fuisz says Octi has taken steps to optimize the facial recognition experience such as the prioritization of friends-of-friends instead of having to search through the faces of everyone that is in the network. As a result, the app is able to identify friend as quickly as in 20 milliseconds.
Octi enables you to remotely view friends’ profiles but the core experience of the social network is supposed to be in-person.
Some have raised ethical questions regarding the use of the social network such as the possibility of one being bullied or harassed. However, Octi CEO Fuisz has assured that the profiles and belts will only be visible to the friends that the user has approved such that if one of the connections is doing something untoward, the user can simply say goodbye and yank them from their networks.
According to Fuisz, the app will create the foundation for many other experiences with “endless opportunities for games and other fun things” which the user will be able to do with the app.
Fuisz hopes that Octi may eventually transform into a WeChat-style platform where outside developers will be able to build content and social tools. The Octi AR-based social network will work on iPhone 7 and above. There are plans to roll out the Android version later in the year. With the iPhone support, the app will potentially reach a vast audience right out of the gate instead of grappling with the scale issues that AR and VR platforms face.
Octi has to date raised $12 million which includes the seed round of $7.5 million that the company raised from a coterie of investors including Human Ventures, Peter Diamandis’ Bold Capital Partners, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Day One Ventures, Scott Belsky, Live Nation, I2BF and Josh Kushner.