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Local innovator develops HoloDome

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The HoloDome can be used to watch 360-degree videos, play 360-degree games and visualise data in a 360-degree environment.
The HoloDome can be used to watch 360-degree videos, play 360-degree games and visualise data in a 360-degree environment.

Johannesburg-based innovator Zaid Mahomedy revealed the HoloDome to the public at the SA Business Incubation conference at Emperors Palace last week.

According to Mahomedy, the HoloDome allows multiple people to communally experience 360-degree content in 4K resolution, at the same time, in the same physical space, without the need to wear a virtual reality (VR) headset.

The five-metre HoloDome can be used to watch 360-degree videos, play 360-degree games, visualise data in a 360-degree environment and other innovative purposes, Mahomedy says.

He explains that sample single-player games have been developed using the Unity Gaming Engine, and there are plans to create multiplayer HoloDome gaming experiences going forward.

Unity gives users the ability to create games in both 2D and 3D, and the engine offers a primary scripting application programming interface in C#, for both the Unity editor in the form of plugins, and games themselves, as well as drag-and-drop functionality.

A multi-projector solution, the Holodome can be tilted at 0, 30 and 45 degrees, and is designed for use in brand activations, corporate functions, science centres, exhibitions, weddings and festivals.

A smaller HoloPort concept, which sits at a 90-degree angle and uses only one projector, is also ready, but development has been shelved until further funds permit completion, Mahomedy says.

He adds the commercial-ready version of the HoloDome is the result of three-and-a-half years of research and development (R&D) which includes more than 10 iterations of prototyping various designs, spending his life savings on R&D, multiple trials and failures, and a large amount of hustle and stress working as a solo entrepreneur.

"With persistence and dedication, I am proud of this world-class, hi-tech, innovative solution," he says.

Yusuf Akoojee, CEO of Metropolis Brands, a brand consultancy that worked with Mahomedy, says the HoloDome provides companies with an exciting platform for their consumers to experience and be immersed by brands.

Zaid Mahomedy gaming in the HoloDome.
Zaid Mahomedy gaming in the HoloDome.

"This is the beginning of something new in South Africa; a 360-degree audio-visual experience that is accessible and inclusive for all," Akoojee says.

Mahomedy's company Immersive Authority began as a research and review Web site, when he had an interest in immersive technology but believed there must be a better solution to VR headsets which provide only a solitary experience.

Inspired by Cerebro from X-Men and the Holodeck from Star Trek, he created the HoloDome.

Mahomedy received incubation and start-up support funding from The Innovation Hub Management Company in Gauteng, after winning second place in the 2016 GAP ICT Challenge.

He left his corporate job in December 2016 to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations full-time.

Immersive Authority is a level one B-BBEE company in Johannesburg.

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