Absentia VR, a Bengaluru-based start-up that offers a tool to create virtual reality content, has raised Rs8 crore in a round led by Exfinity Venture Partners, the early-stage venture fund said on Tuesday.
The round saw participation from Sprout Venture Partners and Krishnamoorthy Ananthasivam, a former vice-president at Infosys Ltd, while Venture Catalysts, a Mumbai-based seed fund, picked up stake through secondary share purchase.
Absentia VR has developed Norah AI, an artificial-intelligence powered engine that creates 360 degree panoramic content from 2D videos or images. It uses proprietary algorithms that stitch individual images together and add depth of field to photographs for an immersive experience. The content is viewed on flat screen displays and VR headsets.
Absentia VR was started by Birla Institute of Technology, Goa, drop-outs Shubham Mishra, Vrushali Prasade and Harikrishna Valiyath in early 2015. In November the same year, it raised Rs1.2 crore from Astarc Ventures, 50k Ventures and a few independent angel investors.
The company rolled out the first version of Norah in November 2016 which found traction with clients in media and entertainment and telecom sectors.
According to co-founder Mishra, the platform is used by a major telecom client to create markings and labels on footage from site visits, and by a banking client to capture dents on cars for audit purposes.
Besides this, the software is used to convert 2D games and videos into VR-ready content.
In a short span, Absentia VR has signed eight clients that have so far contributed Rs2.5 crore in revenue. Mishra declined to name the clients but said the users are billed on a pay-as-you-use basis.
The team is now preparing to launch the next version of Norah AI aimed at game developers and plans to deploy additional funds in this area.
Mishra explained that Norah AI has evolved into an auto content creation engine capable of creating VR games with minimum human intervention. The primary capability of Norah AI is that it can create games from movies (and general text and pictorial inputs) by intelligently leaning from the movie-verse and the characters.
The latest version is currently in development and will be commercially rolled in five-six months. “This will drastically reduce the time take to develop games from 30 days to about 30 hours,” Mishra said.
“The developer and distribution platform in the VR value chain has strong monetization potential where strong entry barriers can be built to build defensibility. Absentia’s proposition precisely addresses this space,” Shailesh Ghorpade, a partner at Exfinity Venture said in a statement.