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DGene recently won 100 million RMB Series A financing from IDG Capital (and former shareholder and current co-investors Saifu Fund and GSR Ventures Venture Capital). The company has previously received 1 billion-dollar Pre-Series A funds, from Alibaba (co-investors were Safran Fund and GSR Ventures Venture) and angel funds of 45 million RMB from Shanghai United Investment. Funds this time will be used to expand the product line.
DGene, founded in May 2016, develops VR solutions with light-field technology via the integration of light-field technology and machine learning, to provide cost-effective 3D reconstruction.
This year, DGene is having more plans on productization. Traditional 3D reconstructions often rely on professional display devices and high tech scanning equipment. DGene plans to expand the 3D reconstruction technology into our mobile phones via the camera.
HongXu, general manager of DGene told 36Kr that at present, DGene has provided mobile phone manufacturers their 3D rendering and imaging modules. When this technology is launched, we can accumulate data and form a massive 3D model database, which is useful to various industries.
For example, users can create their own virtual 3D body shape by taking a selfie and try different clothes virtually on their phones. At the same time, data on users measurements and preferences will be accumulated, helping brands and platforms to better understand their customers and provide better recommendations.
Other than mobile phones, DGene has explored and 3D reconstruction of people, objects and places:
Video link: https://v.qq.com/x/page/z079164l8wr.html
DGene can complete a dynamic reconstruction of the human body in seconds via cloud computing. Currently, its applications can be seen in variety shows, education, fitness and other fields. Hong Wei pointed out that they are partnering with VR company Digital Domain Holdings Limited to build an R&D studio and content production center by the end of the month. Also, Digital Domain has also partnered with TV studios and social sites such as China’s version of Twitter Weibo and social media app TikTok to build 3D human models.
In addition, Hong Wei told 36Kr that DGene can is able to produce real-time 3D reconstruction, building a foundation to develop a holographic video call. Hong told 36Kr that with the advancement in 5G technology, DGene plans to apply VR in video calls, enabling parties to see each other in 3D.
In terms of object reconstruction, digital rendering technology can restore most materials, including reflective and translucent ones. Currently, DGene will partner with Alibaba and major museums to launch the 3D reconstruction of products and high-end artifacts. DGene is also partnering with urban management organizations and stadiums to reconstruct different locations via light-field technology.
DGene’s business model has two aspects. The first is to provide technology synthesis modules for mobile phone manufacturers with a license fee, the other is to provide cloud reconstruction, rendering and compression services to customers. This year, DGene’s revenue has reached tens of millions RMB. The revenue mainly comes from mobile phone 3D modeling and 3D human modeling. The mobile phone 3D modelling is expected to reach 100 million RMB in revenue.
The company is headquartered in Shanghai with its overseas headquarters in Silicon Valley. Founder Qi Jingyi is a California Institute of Technology Ph.D. and is currently a professor at Shanghai University of Science and Technology after being a professor at the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Delaware. Co-founder and general manager Hong Wei has been in the field of 3D imaging and display, with more than 10 years of experience. CTO Jason Yang is also a Ph.D. in Computer and Electronic Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the Technical Director of AMD and has many years of R&D experience in graphics rendering. Co-founder and chief scientist of artificial intelligence, Ma Yi, is currently a professor at UC Berkeley, and had done research UC Berkeley, IEEE, ACM and Microsoft.