Quester has invested GBP3 million to lead a total financing round of GBP6 million for Anthropics, a digital media technology company based in the UK. Other investors in the company’s second round of financing include Sky Ventures and Skandia Media along with existing investors. Anthropics will use the funding to expand and develop its Synthactor digital technology, which transmits live TV-quality “videos” of human faces over low bandwidths.
Synthactor allows people to communicate fact to face over wireless, Internet or wired networks. Rather than sending large amounts of data, the technology transmits a single realistic image of the sender (or any character, cartoon or animal) which can be stored for later use. It then sends a series of digital instructions relating to the movements of the picture, these are mapped out onto the image of the face, animating it with speech and facial expressions. Anthropics is currently undertaking projects to provide a showcase for Synthactor and will be launching its products later this year.
Future potential markets for this product include any application which benefits from more humanised technology such as interactive websites, online customer relationship marketing and interactive digital television. The ability of Anthropics’ technology to use low bandwidth networks (it works over current mobile phone bandwidths) and its low power consumption will enable it to capitalise on the current text messaging trend. According to Anthropics, mobile phones with integrated camera chips and colour displays will be on the market next year. Nick Stanton, investment manager at Quester who will become a non-executive director of Anthropics, said: “The potential for Synthactor not only to augment existing products in the mobile phone arena but also to create entirely new markets in multi-media messaging is enormous…This is an extremely exciting opportunity for us to invest in revolutionary technology, which could well become the industry standard, just as it breaks into the marketplace.”
Anthropics was launched to commercialise technology developed by Createc, which was founded by the National Film and Television to explore future possibilities for digital media. Createc has been funded through grants from the DTI and corporate partners including Intel and has worked with research groups from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Manchester. Anthropics received seed funding from angel investors led by Hermann Hauser, the founder of Acorn Computers and co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners.