With each of our innovator stories, we get a chance to meet the people behind EU-funded ideas, which have the potential to change our future for the better. 



With that in mind, we spoke with Dealflow.eu’s DeepTech E-pitching participant Rafael Pagés. He is the co-founder and CEO of Volograms, a company behind an AI platform, which makes 3D capture of humans possible with one single image. Volograms powers user-generated 3D content creation for the Metaverse as its algorithms allow to create a volumetric reconstruction from one single viewpoint.  

Volograms is listed on the Innovation Radar and was supported by the EU with €280k via the R&I project INVICTUS.



Tell us more about yourself and your work? 

I’m Rafa, one of the founders of Volograms, and I’m the company CEO, even though my background is not business. I started my career in the engineering and science field, and I did PhD in Computer Vision. I then worked as a Postdoc Researcher at Trinity College in Dublin, where I met the two other co-founders of Volograms. Jan (Ondrej), Konstantinos (Amplianitis), and I were researching new ways of creating content for augmented and virtual reality. Eventually, we ended up developing a new technology, which was the foundation of what the company is today. 

Volograms is now four years old and has been operating in the space called “volumetric video capture”. It is a way of recording people in 3D, so you can bring them into virtual reality, video games, visual effects, or any 3D platform in general. 

What problem is your product solving and what makes its solution unique? 

To be able to record a person in 3D, you typically require a volumetric capture studio, which includes a lot of cameras pointing inwards, and placed around the person. You would also need to use a green screen for visual assistance and good lighting servers to run the recording. It usually takes a long time.  

What we’ve been developing at Volograms is a way of doing that without the studio and using just one smartphone. It’s an AI-based solution that takes one single video shot from one viewpoint and from that it’s able to produce a full 3D model of a person. So, compared to the other solutions on the market, it’s significantly more accessible because you don’t require a studio; you can just do it on your smartphone. We consider it a technological breakthrough.  


Have you already tested your product with clients? What was it like? 

We started exploring the technologies we use and ways we could put them into an app. This resulted in an application called VOLU, available to download for all.  

The idea of the app is to educate the market and give users the possibility of doing it for free, so they can learn its usage through play and the best practices of AR and VR. We also wanted to figure out what were the use cases that we hadn’t thought of because, at the end of the day, this is a camera. It’s a camera solution, so you’re supposed to be using it in the way you want and not in the way we tell you to. 

We had many professionals come through our doors trying to understand how they could use that technology in their own projects because some of them had already been trying to scan people in 3D for years. It was never an easy task, yet suddenly you can simply do it on a smartphone; it’s a great advantage. For instance, we’ve worked with Hugo Boss when they used our technology for their marketing campaign, but they were only the first. There are a lot of people currently using Volograms and the VOLU app to create more content for the 3D platforms and we predict that more will follow in the coming years. 


How did you start your journey and where are you now on the road to achieving your ambition? 

Everything started at Trinity College. We were doing white paper research at the time and trying to replicate the bullet time jump scene from The Matrix – when Neo jumps, and the camera moves around. But instead of doing it with 100 cameras in the studio, we wanted to do it with four or five phones, handheld, outdoors and very far from each other. For that, we needed to build a 3D reconstruction algorithm that would work with relatively few cameras, and which would end up being interesting for certain commercial applications.  

We started to see VR and AR growing and getting a lot of traction, but all the content you could enjoy was looking very cartoonish. We wanted to bring real humans into VR and AR, so we thought that with the technology we’ve put together, we would be able to create small studios in a space that anyone could rent, simply set it up and start creating 3D content in a very straightforward way.  

We did a market research study to understand who would be willing to pay for this and what companies we should be addressing at the beginning. So, even though we still needed to continue the further development of the technology, we got some initial clients who would test it and help us continue building the features. That’s how Volograms came to be.  

We have been developing the technology throughout the years but during the pandemic, we decided to go full-on into just doing it on a single smartphone because what we saw was a highly scalable solution with a lot of potentials.  




What is Volograms’ greatest achievement so far? 

I would say, that being the first of our kind on the market. It’s a huge achievement, to change the technology so much that it disrupts the whole industry. There are companies out there that have more funding secured, in places where they have, let’s say, more business opportunities and for us, to come in and dare to drastically innovate the way content is being created– It’s an accomplishment to be the first on the market to release this kind of product. 


How do you see Volograms making a difference in the future? 

We want to integrate this technology into our everyday life in the same way you would take photos, edit them on your device, share with your friends or post them on social media. We think that there needs to be a similar space around AR and VR; for it to be so widespread that it’s part of your everyday media consumption and creation. We want to see headsets producing 3D content that’s not just flat or cartoonish, we want it to look real. So, to be able to do that, you need to have an easy way of recording the world around you in 3D without the need to go to a studio or request professional access to 3D models. 

The way we see the future unfold is that tech will be powering all the platforms and the devices, and we don’t mean just our application, but it will be integrated into many other partners and technologies. We can already see that happening.  

We have a few companies we work with that are starting to integrate the background, the backend technology, and the 3D reconstruction technology. I think that in the coming years we would like to become as easily recognisable and as common as a normal camera, similar to the early days of digital cameras. 




Why is participation in Dealflow’s e-pitching event and receiving their coaching important to you? 

I think that nowadays when all work is remote most of the time, it’s very complicated to access the right networks of investors and potential partners. Dealflow.eu gives us a lot of visibility and opens up our network, and in my opinion as an entrepreneur, that’s extremely important. Three years ago, we would have gone to a live event abroad to meet people and do demos in person. Now, if it wasn’t for these events, it would be impossible to network because we are not travelling as much. And even if you are travelling, there are not as many events happening. People are being cautious about socialising post-pandemic. 


How would you define success and what keeps you going in the pursuit of it? 

I would consider myself a vision-driven person. I have all these ideas of what is it that we should be doing or what the features should look like and that’s basically what keeps me going. I would like to make all of these goals a reality. Of course, there’s no clear roadmap when you’re drafting a long-term vision and sometimes one has to be flexible and be able to adapt.  

I saw an opportunity within AR, in a space that was growing rapidly, I saw that it could become huge. It’s particularly important because, for me, it’s not just any business but my academic background and my field of expertise. Once you become an expert in any field, you get an eye for improvements, innovation, and ideas, especially after so many years. I’ve been in VR for 10 years now. Looking at it from a perspective, I can analyse how things might evolve in the next few years and see the scalability of the products. It might appear that not much has changed but when you’ve been in space for so long, you start noticing both the subtle and big changes. This makes me very optimistic about the future. And optimism is a great motivation tool. 

Article published by EurA AG.

About Innovator Spotlight Stories

The aim of innovator stories is to highlight and share with investors and relevant stakeholders in the industry, insights, and unique stories from some of the most innovative EU-funded project that Dealflow.eu is proud to support.

If you are an investor who wants to connect with Volograms, please feel free to reach out at [email protected]

More about Dealflow.eu 

Supported by the European Commission, Dealflow.eu discovers and supports the most promising EU-funded innovators and connects them with relevant investors and corporates. The initiative was launched to help groundbreaking innovations secure the funding needed for their future commercialisation by offering them tailored support and matchmaking services. 

To learn more about Dealflow.eu, visit https://dealflow.eu/ 


Disclaimer: Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them