Childhood friends who turned down Dragon's Den offer find success inventing 'sci-fi' holograms
Imagine a burger floating in the air outside a restaurant to tempt you inside, or a hologram of Daniel Craig standing outside the cinema to welcome you into the latest James Bond movie.
It sounds like a sci-fi vision of the future, but it is set to become reality on our streets thanks to groundbreaking technology invented by a London-based start-up.
Hypervsn, which allows 3D images and videos to be projected anywhere, indoors or outdoors, was developed by Kino-mo.
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Kino-mo's new technology is an advertiser's dream, allowing a 3D life-size image of any product to appear in the air. But it also has many other uses. For example, it could be used in teaching, or to display maps or guides in museums.
Top of the charts
When it was launched at the giant annual CES show in Las Vegas, it was picked in the top ten of more than 200,000 new products on display.
Kino-mo received more than 5,000 enquiries from companies in more than 100 countries following the event last year, as well as over 1,000 pre-orders, so the firm's holograms should soon be part of our everyday lives.
How it all started
Kino-mo was founded by childhood friends Art Stavenka and Kiryl Chykeyuk, who grew up together on the same street in Belarus.
Art, 31, who reconnected with Kiryl after they both moved to the UK to study for PhDs, said: "We spent two years working on a prototype which could be produced in large numbers and at a reasonable cost. What we ended up doing was developing a technology that no-one else was developing, which will bring holograms to the masses.
"We've been inundated with companies from around the world contacting us. We stopped counting the number of countries after it went past 100, including places like Congo and Mongolia. We aren't yet big enough to accommodate everyone, so we're having to choose which companies to work with first.
"We've been planning to do something successful ever since we were boys in Belarus. Some of our earlier attempts didn't come to fruition. But it's very exciting to see this one working out."
Hypervsn uses a combination of chips, magnets and rotating LEDs to create the illusion of an object hovering in the air.
The company has also developed software allowing brands to control their holograms, wherever they are displayed.
Art explained: "It means that if McDonald's for example decided they wanted to push hamburgers between 12 and 3pm in their restaurants just in the north of France, they could programme the holograms just in those places to display a hamburger."
Into the Dragon's Den
When they first started out Art and Kiryl took their innovation to BBC's Dragons Den when they convinced Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis to back them, but after shaking hands on air they later decided to go it alone.
In 2015 they came first in the start-up category of the Pitch to Rich awards. As well as a slice of the competition's £1million prize money they also won six months' free electricity from npower Business, one of the UK's leading suppliers of energy to small businesses.
Art said that the support they received in their quest for success was crucial in helping them create a product that now looks set to take the advertising and retailing world by storm.
He said: "Doing what no-one else is doing is exciting but it also creates challenges, which we've had to overcome one by one to get where we are now.
"The company has had to grow very quickly to keep up with demand, and every kind of help we've received has been very welcome. We now have 35 people in our team, including designers, engineers, marketing and sales people, and two offices, in London and Belarus."
And he said that as they continue to develop their technology their hologram machines, which he claims are being snapped up by the biggest global brands, are just the start.
He said: "We're excited about the future. We're now looking at holograms that can be menus in restaurants, which would pop up on people's tables and where diners can point and order what they want.
"And as the world of retail gets more high-tech, they could be used to help people try on clothes, so when someone wants to see what they look like in that dress or that hat, a lifesize hologram of the items they will appear in front of them. The possibilities are endless."
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