Didimo, the Portuguese startup creating high-fidelity avatars for both business and consumers, has gathered $6.9 million in seed financing, through venture capital and grants. $4.9 million came from new and existing investors, including Beta-I, Bynd VC, Farfetch UK, LC Ventures, and Portugal Ventures. Didimo also recently received a $2 million grant from the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
Didimo, which means “twin” in Greek, creates lifelike digital models that businesses and individuals can use to interact and provide services online. The aim is to bring authenticity and emotional nuance to digital interactions, which can be monetized for brands and also build social bridges for folks with conditions that leave them isolated.
“Today, in our internet-driven world, we have more opportunities to connect than ever before. Yet, when communication is intermediated by technology, we often lose the humanness of that connection,” said Prof. Verónica Orvalho, founder and CEO of Didimo. “Our mission with the Didimo platform is to break down the barriers between the physical and digital worlds, helping humans transport themselves across that divide.”
The quality of the avatar is impressively life-like, given the nearly instantaneous creation. To create a Didimo, individuals need only upload or scan a photo of themselves from their smartphone. Didimo’s technology then generates a ready-to-animate, personalized 3D character in just 20 seconds.
People can use this life-like representation in online activities such as gaming, shopping, and mixed reality communication. It works across various devices and media, already showing traction through pilot programs with Sony, Amazon, CeekVR, Farfetch, and others.
Founded in Portugal in 2016, the platform is based on groundbreaking research in computer graphics by Professor Orvalho, whose inventions have been used by Universal Studios, Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, and other European-funded research projects. Specifically, Orvalho’s work focused on capturing facial expressions in motion, mimicking the way in which we convey surprise, delight, sadness, and other emotions critical to the human experience. Many of the 22 employees have backgrounds in high-end visual effects and game production.
The new funding will be used to grow the technology team for product development and to establish more strategic partnerships that further Didimo’s commercialisation.