A startup based in Silicon Valley has unveiled a new virtual reality (VR) camera that uses hundreds of tiny lenses and image sensors to provide life-like presence for live action.
Lytro, based in Mountain View of North California, said the new hardware, named Lytro Immerge, is the world’s first professional light field solution for cinematic VR with four times more definition than regular high resolution (HD) cameras.
“It is the perfect technology for VR and it will be a game-changer, because it allows the user to have an immersive experience, instead of the flat experience other VR cameras provide,” Ariel Braunstein, chief officer of product (COP) at Lytro, told Xinhua.
Light field technology was first developed by the company for regular photo cameras in 2006, as it was founded that year by Executive Chairman Ren Ng, whose doctoral research on light field imaging won Stanford University’s prize for best thesis in computer science.
It uses sensors to capture each individual ray of light in the image, its color and its focal point, allowing for 3D viewing.
Braunstein said other VR equipment on the market relies mainly on small HD cameras mounted on a sphere to provide a 360-degree all-around feeling. “It’s a flat feeling, and it makes people nauseated, because live action video doesn’t behave inside the gear like computer graphics, which give users the sense of motion.”
Light field mimics the real flow of light. And Lytro Immerge does this by attaching hundreds of tiny cameras to five circles on top of a tripod. Lytro claims that the whole experience of the new VR camera comes along with a production system that includes a server, uploading and streaming to the cloud, editing tools and an application, or app, to use VR headsets.
Plus, the camera is controlled via a smarthphone app, where users can view and adjust any settings remotely.
Given the recent popularity of VR headsets, Lytro Immerge aims to get ahead of the market and become the primary content creation tool for VR.
It comes with a hefty price tag, though Lytro expects that its demand will be in rental, once it is released in the first quarter of 2016. “It will probably cost a few thousand dollars an hour to rent it, but it comes with an end-to-end production system, not just the camera,” the company’s COP said.
Developers believe that their main clients will be Hollywood studios or VR production companies, not consumers.