InAVator - Kiryl Chykeyuk, Kino-mo
With some high profile backing behind him, Kiryl Chykeyuk, the co-founder of Kino-mo, is hoping to see his LED-based holographic system in retail stores around the world.
The route that Kiryl Chykeyuk has taken to get to the AV industry isn’t a standard one, but one reflective of the changing nature of proAV. Born in Belarus and now based in London, the 31-year old studied a PhD in engineering at Oxford University. His studies looked at the analysis of 3D medical images, and how 3D images of different modalities are formed, and how the human brain processes and analyses those images. These studies he says were the start of what would become the Hypervsn product, “to see how the human brain can be led into seeing 3D effects in mid-air”.
Chykeyuk formed his company Kino-mo with childhood friend Art Stavenka whilst “in his dorm room at Oxford” in 2012. A few months after the company was founded, the pair went on the British TV show Dragon’s Den where inventors pitch ideas to business experts for funding, and won €90,000 investment for a product called the video-bike display. The product, which displayed LED advertising on the wheels of moving bikes, also won the Cambridge University Entrepreneurs Award and the Shell LiveWire Award. The pair decided against selling part of the company as part of the Dragon’s Den deal and went it alone.
So what happened next? Chykeyuk takes up the story: “A year later we built the first prototype of Hypervsn, and we immediately saw the magnitude and potential of the product and since then we have concentrated all of our efforts on building solid Hypervsn technology, and have left the bicycle product for another day.”
In 2015 Kino-mo won the startup category of the Richard Branson-funded Pitch to Rich competition. Also in that year the company received backing from high profile US billionaire investor Mark Cuban. “The company has had to grow very quickly to keep up with demand. We now have just under 100 people in our team, including software developers, electrical and mechanical engineers, designers, art directors, marketing and sales people; and two offices in Europe with headquarters in London and a number of official representatives covering North America and Southeast Asia,” says Chykeyuk. Only five years in existence, the company is already in profit and has all the investment funding it needs at present.
So what is Hypervsn? It’s an LED-based visual system for creating, managing and displaying 3D video content, the images resemble high-resolution holograms floating in mid-air. The system combines a Hypervsn Management Platform and a Hypervsn Projection Unit, which looks like a propeller with LEDs fitted down all four blades. The LEDs on the blades spin fast enough so the human eye cannot detect the movement, and only see a coherent image.
The projection unit plugs into the mains, can be fitted onto any wall and is fixed at any height from basic eye level to 3-metres up. Because it uses LEDs the display is relatively unaffected, unlike a projector for example, by the harsh lighting often seen in retail environments. As the image or video floats in the air it is often called a hologram, but that’s not quite right explains Chykeyuk. “Technically it’s not a hologram, just like most of the things out there that are being called a hologram. Holograms involve lasers, which might be dangerous. The 3D graphics appearing to be floating in the air creates a direct association with a hologram.”
Everything in Hypervsn has been built from scratch. Alongside the single projection unit called Hypervsn, Kino-mo also produces Hypervsn Wall, which is multiple units joined together to work synchronously allowing the creation of a “hologram” of pretty much any size and configuration. It is already capable of a wall up to 10x20-metres in size. Software includes a cloud-based CMS, which can manage thousands of Hypervsn units remotely from a single location. It can also schedule content in the way a digital signage player can. The company also produces a 3D content constructor, which allows users to create 3D graphics using standard available 2D assets. This software helps bypass the need for costly (and time-consuming) 3D video production, which can often be a barrier to adoption. Kino-mo also produces a desktop events application for live events, which controls Hypervsn units in real time for trade shows, festivals and conferences.
The technology, as clever as it is, is one thing, but it stands for more than that says Chykeyuk. “Hypervsn is all about content, the end users do not have to understand what the technology is made of, or care what kind of metal or plastic we use, all they see is ‘the hologram’. Users must be able to change the holograms when they want, and it must be of the highest possible quality. In the end what we are offering the world is emotions. When people stand and look at Hypervsn holographic visuals for five minutes they must feel it as much as they see it. This is the biggest difference from what is out there like LED or LCD displays - Hypervsn induces real feelings, it makes people smile, and when these feelings are associated with the brand they are seeing at the time it is very powerful.”
Often with a very new technology, especially at a show like CES in Las Vegas, where Hypervsn was officially launched in January 2017, what is on show can impress, but does it actually fulfil a real need out there in the marketplace? In so many cases, the answer is no, so what needs does Chykeyuk think Hypervsn fulfils? “The offline retail sector has been in search for a new scalable visual technology to keep up with the growth of online, and for quite a while there has been nothing revolutionary out there. What we provide is a very effective tool to communicate to people. We do that through emotions, we sell emotions, then it’s up to a brand how to steer those emotions. Some do it to increase sales or incentivise purchase, and others use it to empower the brand image or lure people to particular spot, some just use it to make people happy, for example in live events.”
Hypervsn is now present in over 60 countries and the product has already found a home in retail, so why does it fit this application so well, and does he see it being installed further afield? “Retail is our mainstream, but also stadiums, banks, casinos and other public places, essentially anywhere one can see standard LED/LCD displays. Some of our partners use it for the events industry, which is totally different to DOOH. In retail it can be used for point of sale material or to replace traditional digital signage. The next step is adding interactivity and engagement with 3D images through gesture and voice recognition.”
Chykeyuk revealed Kino-mo is currently in talks to install Hypervsn in train stations for health and safety messages. Because it grabs attention, there are a wide variety of uses for it, from frivolous to critical.
One consequence of working for retail clients is their insistence on ROI, can Hypervsn prove ROI, or is it a tool to increase brand awareness? “On one side it’s important that clients are happy, when people look at it they smile and say ‘wow’. On the other hand all brands are looking for numbers and ROI. From our own market research in several countries we have seen Hypervsn increase sales between 40-150%. We have done case studies with blue-chip brands in the UK and the US where Hypervsn is placed in window displays, and footfall increased between 4-12%,” says Chykeyuk.
Kino-mo is currently building up a network of worldwide partners including system integrators, DOOH agencies, events agencies, and value added distributors. To help this it will be at ISE 2018 to get itself in front of as many integrators as possible. Because the reaction to Hypervsn at CES was so intense (it received more than 4,500 emails enquiring about the product) it has allowed Hypervsn to take the time to be very careful in choosing the right partners who understand the product. Even though it has sometimes sold direct, on the insistence on certain clients Chykeyuk insists, he is keen to move the product through the channel, “We are a tech company, we provide the product, our partners sell the product.”