Absentia VR Ltd., an Artificial Intelligence (AI)- and Virtual Reality (VR)-driven interactive games startup in India, has raised INR 8 crore (US$1.2 million) in pre-Series A investment from Exfinity Venture Partners, an early-stage VC fund launched by IT industry bigwigs V Balakrishnan, Mohandas Pai, Deepak Ghaisas and Girish Paranjpe.
Bangalore-headquartered Absentia was established in early 2015 by BITS Pilani graduates Vrushali Prasade (21), Shubham Mishra (21) and Harikrishna Valiyath (21).
The startup is building an AI engine called Norah that aims to create AAA games with minimal human intervention. For the uninitiated, AAA (triple A) games is an informal classification used for video games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion.
Absentia claims that with just a few lines of text/pictorial input, Norah can create a completely new set of interactive content such as arcade games, casual games, puzzles, animation, graphics among various other form of content with over a trillion unique possibilities. Behind the scenes, this interactive media engine platform is a gigantic neural network, which opens up countless possibilities for interactive content designers to create games, gifs and animations in a fraction of the time that it takes today’s content companies.
R&D trials of the product are currently being carried out in California, New York and Stockholm, and it will be available for public release by the middle of this year.
According to Absentia, using AI for auto content creation can push the envelope of gaming and entertainment multi-fold since a machine can think about several possibilities in scenario building which human creators cannot. This means that a content creator can train the machine with a movie, and Norah will automatically generate a high-end game by learning from the movie-verse and the characters that inhabit it.
Co-founder and CEO Mishra said: “With Norah AI, we are aiming to become the world’s first auto content generation company with a focus on media and entertainment segment. Over the last few months, the team has been successful in monetising the platform in the area of VR and AR, and Image Processing across industries, and we are on the path to create a long term disruption in interactive content industry.”
The current game development market is split between sophisticated game developers who work with non-intuitive interfaces which require the developers to be fluent in game development languages and amateur developers who use simplistic, visual UI with pre-set templates and limited game assets. The beauty of Norah is that it will replicate the simplicity of text/picture based UI without the constraint of a limited game verse, making it possible for anyone to create high end games and other form of interactive content.
Chinnu Senthilkumar, CTO of Absentia, said: “The current state of VR is comparable to the gold rush days in the US. There is a lot of value (opportunity) out there, and those who are willing to explore early, develop key technology, gain key market insights, build and refine products with a first mover advantage, be vigilant and protective of their IP are likely to be rewarded in the end.”
“Exfinity assessed Absentia having the right leadership, mindset, early demonstration of the technology capabilities and proof of concepts which lays the foundation for a great future. Absentia Norah engine empowers the content owners to visualize & develop high quality interactive content (3D, VR, AR etc) bypassing today’s complex and time consuming content development cycles,” Senthilkumar added.
Image Credit: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo
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