Launch of Octi Metaverse-inspired video-sharing app that will reward creators with digital currency

An app that lets users create and share videos that blend elements of the physical and virtual worlds was launched on Tuesday, with funding from James Murdoch and entertainment industry backers.

Octi, which has been updated from an earlier version, seeks to capitalize on growing consumer interest in augmented reality, a technology that superimposes computer images on the real world. The iPhone app contains a library of virtual props and scenes that users can incorporate into their videos. The company rewards creators with digital currency.

The app debuts a few months after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg popularized the concept of a “metaverse”. It attracted investment from Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, LiveNation Entertainment and longtime music executive Jimmy Iovine.

This version of Octi represents a break from the social networking app introduced by the company in January 2020, which sparked controversy over its use of facial recognition that identified a person’s favorite YouTube videos or Spotify favorites after that app users pointed their phone cameras at them.

Facial recognition is gone from the new version of Octi, which is now built around interacting with 3D virtual objects – “an afterthought” in the original that proved popular with users, said Brian Biggott, COO of Octi, in an interview.

Octi’s collection of digital assets allows users to don costumes – perhaps a clumsy pair of sunglasses or a traffic cone hat – and create video in virtual environments, like a digital recreation of the Great Hall of the Harry Potter films.

Users can scan their surroundings and interact with digital characters, such as the 3D version of the Funko POP version of Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean or Nintendo Pokemon characters such as turtle-shaped Squirtle, in the real world.

Octi uses virtual currency to encourage its users to create videos, awarding Octi Coins for participating in themed challenges, creating videos that other users like – or for importing their own real-world objects that others users embed in their videos. These coins can be exchanged to buy real or virtual goods in the app’s store, the Octi Shop.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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