360 degree videos and cameras

Three years ago few people other than hardcore gamers and those working in specialist industrial fields were still talking about VR. Now 360 degrees and VR videos is becoming a popular video format. Virtual  reality video is a new kind of video that gives you a sense of depth in every direction so you feel like you’re actually there. 360 degrees vidoe allows you to look to any direction but does not give that sense of depth. Outside of games, music is almost certainly the most popular content type in VR right now. To view those videos so that you can feel you are in there, you will need virtual reality glasses or smart phone with Google Cardboard viewer. The YouTube video platform seeks to extend its lead in virtual reality with live immersive broadcasts as YouTube rolls out support for 360-degree live streams and spatial audio.

Companies including Facebook, Sony, Google and HTC have been investing heavily in headsets that people wear to experience virtual reality, exploring simulated environments through games or films. Critical to the success of these devices will be abundant, high-quality VR content. Even Queen legend Brian May has made a rival to Google Cardboard. YouTube has begun supporting 360-degree live streaming on its service to get us closer to the matrix. You put your smartphone into a portable device like a Google Cardboard or a Samsung Gear—or you use a more powerful computer-based setup, such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive—and the device engulfs your field of vision and tracks your head movement. The filmic world is no longer flat. Wherever you look, there’s something to see.

While the attention lavished upon the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and Magic Leap, mobile VR is also expected to be big. From Your Phone’s Next Superpower? Putting Awesome VR in Your Pocket article:  “While mobile VR may not trump PC-based VR gaming,” says Nick DiCarlo, Samsung’s head of immersive and VR products, “we do believe mobile VR can be the best when it comes to videos and social interactions.” This makes sense when you consider two things. First, no other tech approaches the smartphone’s scale: 6 billion people will own one by 2020, according to one report. And second, phones are relatively cheap¨. Because Android almost certainly will remain the world’s dominant mobile OS, Google plays an integral role in VR. AR market will grow considerably in the commercial market, such as arts and culture. Real life experiences will soon have to compete against V.R. sports, V.R. concerts, V.R. shooting games, and V.R. porn.It is estimated that The virtual and augmented reality market will reach $162 billion by 2020.

Now that live virtual reality is hitting the mainstream, you need a camera to make it happen, don’t you? How to make those 360 degree virual reality videos? You need some special tools.It looks like Affordable 360 Degree Camera Lets Anyone Create Virtual Reality Videos and The Race to Build the Best VR Camera is Escalating.

Commercial camera manufacturers are on the game

Collection of 360° Video Rigs web page tells that there are many different types of 360° video rigs, but not all of them capture the full 360×180° field of view (FOV). The page has good introduction to different ways to capture 360 degree pictures and videos. And link to mode detailed theory article 360° Video Fundamentals. The 7 Best 360° Cameras and Rigs for Shooting INSANELY Awesome VR Video article gives an overview on the 360 degree cameras that were available one year ago (09/2015). Check out also the list of the 10 best VR (Virtual Reality) headsets, too. What are the best 360-degree cameras? article lists several 360 degree camera choices.  The best and the cheapest 360 degree cameras and We Tested The Best 360 Degree Cameras Under $1000 articles list several interesting reasonably priced 360 degree cameras.

GoPro will start selling its six-camera VR rig on August 17th article tellst that GoPro has announced that it will open up sales of its six-camera “Omni” virtual reality rig when the company starts shipping preorder units on August 17th. The $5,000 setup includes six Hero 4 Black cameras, the cube-shaped metal housing, and all the hardware and software that is necessary to film and stitch the 360-degree footage that Omni captures. At $5,000, it sounds like a lot for consumers, but it’s extremely reasonable for crews or productions who want to shoot high-quality immersive video on a relatively restrained budget. There is software backend that GoPro has developed for Omni: pop out the six microSD cards out of the rig and the software stitches the 360-degree footage from them. You can export YouTube- or Facebook-ready 2K, 4K, and even 8K versions of your footage. There are liminations: Omni can’t shoot in 3D, so it’s not the best for shooting really immersive VR footage. Omni rig will set you back: $5,000 for a bundle with everything you need (six cameras, Kolor software, smart remote, cables, memory cards, etc.).

Another somewhat  similar product is Freedom360 mount which holds 6 GoPros and lets you stitch the footage together for crazy-high-quality footage.

Double Robotics now lets you turn your telepresence robot into a 360 camera dolly article tells that Double Robotics wants its robots to move beyond telepresence by allowing it’s telepresence robot is transformed into a remote-controlled camera dolly. The company has introduced a camera mount that can be affixed to its Double 1 or Double 2 robots and supports a 360 camera weighing up to five pounds.

A Drone Photosphere is Worth 4000 Times Pi Words article tells that some cheap drones now have a VR (virtual reality) mode to feed signal to a headset or a Google Cardboard-like VR setup, but they can be hard to fly because you can’t move your head freely. MAGnet Systems wants to change all that with a lightweight spherical camera made to fit on a flying vehicle. The camera is under 2.5 inches square, weighs 62 grams, and draws less than 3 watts at 12 volts. It picks up a sphere that is 360 degrees around the drone’s front and back and 240 degrees centered directly under the drone. The article lists also other potantial camera options: You can mount multiple GoPro cameras if you can afford the weight, but this seems much more practical both from a weight perspective and doesn’t require software stitching.  There are other panoramic cameras like the iris360, the LG 360, the Theta S, and the Gear 360.

This Pocketable Camera Gear Will Change the Way You Take Travel Photos article tells about LG 360 CAM that looks like an asthma inhaler, but it’s among the most futuristic pocketable cameras. Its dual wide-angle lenses capture a 360-degree view of its surroundings, which it renders as a spherical image that you can explore using your smartphone, computer or a virtual-reality headset. The $200 LG 360 CAM lets you capture full 13 MP 360° photos and record 360° video in 2K. Instead of a ball like Samsung’s Gear 360 or a box like the Nikon KeyMission 360, this two-lens camera looks very similar to Ricoh’s Theta cameras.

Nokia is alwo working on VR camera. The VR camera in question is OZO, a spherical camera that captures 3D film and video for use in virtual reality applications. By pointing eight different lenses in eight different directions, the Ozo can stitch together a spherical 3D video where you can turn your head to look in any direction. Put a VR headset on, and you can almost feel like you’re there — wherever “there” might be. Aimed at content producers like film studios, it’s priced at $60,000 (€55,000). Disney will use Nokia’s virtual reality camera to film behind-the-scenes movie extras. Nokia is creating a live VR broadcasting option for its Ozo camera that will show 360-degree video as it happens, complete with spatial audioalready equipped to handle 4K resolution feeds.

Luna is the world’s smallest 360 degree video camera article tells about pocket-sized shooter lets you create immersive videos on the cheap. The Luna camera is roughly the same size of a pool ball, promises 360-degree video in Full HD in just two clicks. It’s all done by using two 190-degree fish-eye lenses to create a 1920 x 960 resolution video at 30fps. And that’s all without the need for any extra cables or a camera rig.

Lytro Introduces ‘Immerge’ For Cinematic Virtual Reality article tells that Camera maker Lytro is hopping into virtual reality by announcing a product called “Immerge” which the company describes as “world’s first professional light field solution for cinematic VR.” Lytro wants to provide tools to shoot live action virtual reality. It built its “light field” solution from the ground up. The rig has a sphere containing five rings of light field cameras and sensors to capture video. The key is it’s collecting all of the data from all directions at any given location. The output of the camera will be compatible with all of the big players’ platforms and rigs, including Oculus’, HTC’s and Sony’s, Lytro says. With Cinema, Lytro is specifically seeking out more traditional television and film producers to taste the benefits of light field technology in as rich a way as possible.

VideoStitch unveils the Orah 4i, a tiny 360 live streaming 4K camera article tells that there’s no shortage of 360 cameras on the market these days. If you have a desire to shoot immersive video and possess a ton of disposable income then there’s nothing stopping you! The issue is what happens to that content after it’s captured – most of the captured content will not be visible to others. The Orah 4i is attempting to solve this problem by kicking all of its content onto the web instantly. Live-streaming VR content is pretty tough because of the complicated amount of video-stitching that has to take place to get each separate lens in on the action and contributing to the glorious 4K resolution. VideoStitch knows a thing or two about live-stitching 360 content. Orah 4i now can cop the camera and computing unit for $1,795, but once 4/30 hits, the device will be increasing “incrementally” to the final purchase price of $3,595.

The ‘point and shoot’ Vuze VR camera is coming this fall for $799 article tells that virtual reality cameras, on the other hand, tend to be either a few hundred dollars (e.g., Ricoh’s Theta series) or somewhere in the five-figure range. HumanEyes is aiming to fill in that gap with its decidedly prosumer Vuze VR camera. Though bigger than a Theta or or Samsung’s spherical Gear 360, the Vuze is still small enough to pocketable (depending on the size of your pockets, at least). It has eight full HD cameras, two on each side, each with 120-degree horizontal / 180-degree vertical fields of view. That setup allows it to capture stereoscopic 360 videos in 4K resolution at 30fps. An accompanying iOS / Android app is used for controlling the camera. The company says it will have “near real-time processing” (i.e., about one minute of processing per minute of footage) through its Vuze Studio app, that stitches the footage together using a variety of techniques.

Cars and other vehices can use 360 degree camera systems for added safety. ASL 360º Surround Camera System is a stand-alone system for industrial vehicles offering the operator a bird’s eye real-time view of the vehicle and its surroundings. Socionext Simplifies Evaluation of 360-Degree Wrap-Around View System with New Solution Package press release tells about a 360 degree video development system for automotive and non-automotive applications. 360° Wrap-Around View (WAV) system combines the hardware, software and support services necessary for initial evaluation and development of the WAV system.

Open hardware designs exist

First 360-degree Video From An Amateur Rocket? article tells how Portland State Aerospace Society (PSAS) stuck a 360-degree video camera into their rocket.The 360-degree video was made from video captured by five GoPro cameras stuck inside a custom-built module mounted inside the rocket body, then stitched together by PTGUI for the final video. The 360° Camera page gives details on the camera rig construction.

PiZeroVR is an on-going project to build a low cost portable PiZero based 360 camera. The development idea is to associate the 3 fisheye cameras (Raspberry Pi Camera Module) on a triangle.

 

 

Facebook has designed a 360-degree video camera, and it’s giving the designs away. Facebook’s gorgeous, open-source 360-degree video camera is part of plan to dramatically increase the amount of 360-degree video on its platform. – can be seen as addition to Facebook Live Video API, which lets developers broadcast directly to Facebook from any device.

 

This is Facebook’s gorgeous, open-source 360-degree video camera is the new state of the art. Facebook designed a $30,000 camera rig for 360-degree video to to give filmmakers a hand with creating better immersive videos.Shaped like a flying saucer, Facebook Surround 360 uses a 17-camera array and accompanying web-based software to capture images in 360 degrees and render them automatically. The rig includes 14 wide-angle cameras bolted onto the flying saucer, plus one fish-eye camera on top and two more on the bottom. The social-networking giant is offering filmmakers instructions for how to build that project Surround 360 camera designed to capture 360-degree video.Facebook believes its 17-camera setup might be more appealing because it includes software that marries the images together. Facebook has plans to release for everything from stabilizing 360-degree videos to improving data compression.Introducing Facebook Surround 360: An open, high-quality 3D-360 video capture system web page gives inntroduction to this Facebook 360 degrees camera.The system exports 4K, 6K, and 8K video for each eye. Many of the technical challenges for 3D video stem from shooting the footage in stereoscopic 360. Monoscopic 360, using two or more cameras to capture the whole 360 scene, is pretty mainstream. Consider the competition. Nokia offers a camera setup called the Ozo, which costs $60,000. GoPro, a manufacturer of extreme-sports cameras, has partnered with Google to sell its own take for $15,000.

Making VR videos takes more than camera

Music’s Salvation Might Be Selling Not Songs, But VR article tells a strange thing about making VR videos: turns out it’s really hard to show a rough cut. Even once you’ve done the complicated 360-degree shooting, and your computational algorithms have stitched all the footage together into something realistic and immersive, you still need to fine-tune the edits, sound effects, and visuals so you don’t disorient your viewers (or worse). But don’t concentrate now on that editing too much, because this posting is going to be about the camera technologies to make those videos.

Jesus is coming… to virtual reality article tells about the challenges of VR for film makers:Producers have been fretting about how to do feature films in VR, because the format doesn’t lend itself to traditional Hollywood techniques. Film directors are used to controlling what viewers watch, constantly cutting between close-ups, swooping crane shots, special effects shots, etc. However, that doesn’t work well with 360-degree VR, because the total immersion makes scene changes jarring. That’s going to be the definition of how you tell a story: Are you an observer, or are you a participant?

Studio 360: The pioneers who are making the first virtual-reality narratives article tells howstorytelling pioneers are experimenting with GoPros, 3-D printers, and homemade camera rigs to invent a new medium, cinematic VR. The filmic world is no longer flat. Wherever you look, there’s something to see. Three-hundred-and-sixty-degree camera rig picks up everything within view, including boom mikes, external lighting, and lingering crew members. It’s possible to remove such visual detritus in postproduction, but this adds time and expense. The standard practice is to call “Action!” and then run and hide. V.R. “experiences,” as they’re often called, can be fictional or journalistic, narrative or open-ended. They can look like small-budget movies, big-budget video games, or experimental art pieces with no obvious precedent. Some are called “cinematic V.R.,” or “V.R. storytelling.” Cinematic grammar no longer applies. There is no frame in which to compose a shot. The viewer can look anywhere, so the director often adds subtle (visual or auditory) cues to indicate where to look. Tracking shots must be steady and slow, because too much camera movement can cause discomfort. Most V.R. experiences last only a few minutes; more sustained stories tend to be divided into episodes. It’s not clear whether zoom lenses can be used in V.R.

 

71 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ingrid Lunden / TechCrunch:
    Samsung quietly acquired VR app studio VRB, sources say for $5.5M
    https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/16/samsung-quietly-acquired-vr-app-studio-vrb-sources-say-for-5-5m/

    Samsung has been bullish on virtual reality hardware, hoping that its early moves in headsets and devices to shoot content will give it a stronger position in the space as (and if!) it continues to expand to more applications and users. Now TechCrunch has learned that as part of that effort, it’s also made an acquisition. Samsung quietly bought a New York-based startup called VRB, which has developed several apps to capture and view 360-degree content. Sources tell us that it paid $5.5 million in the deal.

    We have reached out both to VRB and Samsung for comment, but in the meantime one of the co-founders, Chrisopher Paretti, has responded to a message we’ve sent him to confirm the sale. “VRB was acquired by Samsung, but the deal amount will remain undisclosed,” he wrote.

    According to recent figures, Samsung’s Gear VR headset is the market leader in terms of shipments. In 2016 it dominated the market with some 5 million units sold, compared to 3.6 million for the next-most popular model, the Oculus Rift, with 2.1 million units for HTC’s Vive. It has also recently started selling a new Gear 360 camera in the US after an initial launch in Europe.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    David Lumb / Engadget:
    YouTube intros heatmaps for VR, letting creators see where viewers look during 360° videos, says viewers spend 75% of their time looking at front 90 degrees

    YouTube’s heatmaps show where eyes linger in VR videos
    Shocking nobody, 75 percent of viewers just stare straight ahead.
    https://www.engadget.com/2017/06/16/youtube-heatmaps-show-where-look-vr-videos/

    YouTube’s growing library of VR content is a definite asset in Google’s struggle to dominate the virtual reality sphere. The video platform isn’t just improving the consumer experience either, as it did when it added shared virtual viewing rooms and live voice chat back in May. To help content creators figure out which parts of their 360-degree videos are working, YouTube has introduced heatmaps to show where — and when — people are looking in the freeform movie format.

    YouTube will dole out a heatmap for any 360-degree video with over 1,000 views.
    For one, despite the freedom to look anywhere, viewers spend 75 percent of their time watching the front 90 degrees, so keep the action straight ahead.

    Lastly, VR platforms are not made equal: Mobile headset users, like those donning Google’s own Cardboard, take a few seconds to get situated in a vehicle (whereas viewers with desktop systems do not).

    Knowing where folks choose to look isn’t just useful for content creators. Facebook has developed a few strategies to keep streaming video bitrates low and quality high

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Virtual reality audiences stare straight ahead 75% of the time
    YouTube’s advice to turn heads is ‘make better videos’. Literally. That’s all they’ve got
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/19/virtual_reality_audiences_stare_straight_ahead_75_per_cent_of_the_time/

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    Virtual reality audiences stare straight ahead 75% of the time
    YouTube’s advice to turn heads is ‘make better videos’. Literally. That’s all they’ve got
    Google’s sample heat map for VR videos
    A YouTube heat map of where viewers devote their attention during a virtual reality video
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    19 Jun 2017 at 07:02, Simon Sharwood

    YouTube’s revealed the secret to making an engaging virtual reality video: put the best parts right in front of the audience so they don’t have to move their heads.

    The many heat maps YouTube has made lead it to suggest that VR video creators “Focus on what’s in front of you: The defining feature of a 360-degree video is that it allows you to freely look around in any direction, but surprisingly, people spent 75% of their time within the front 90 degrees of a video. So don’t forget to spend significant time on what’s in front of the viewer.”

    YouTube also advises that “for many of the most popular VR videos, people viewed more of the full 360-degree space with almost 20% of views actually being behind them.” Which sounds to El Reg like VR viewers are either staring straight ahead, or looking over their shoulders with very little time being devoted to sideways glances.

    Google therefore offers the following sage advice for those who want to set heads swivelling: “Get their attention … The more engaging the full scene is, the more likely viewers will want to explore the full 360-degree view.”

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    VR and AR headset shipments to hit 100 million units by 2021
    https://www.cnet.com/news/vr-ar-headsetst-100-million-units-by-2021-forecast-idc/

    Virtual reality and augmented reality are expected to become more mainstream in the next five years, says a new forecast by IDC.

    As more people warm up to virtual reality and augmented reality, the two hot trends are expected to get even hotter in the next five years.

    Shipments of VR and AR headsets are set to climb to just under 100 million units worldwide by 2021, according to a forecast by research firm IDC. A little under 10 million headsets shipped last year.

    IDC said Monday that so far VR headsets — especially those powered by smartphones, aka “screenless viewers” — are most popular.

    “The next six to 18 months will further stimulate the VR market as PC vendors, along with Microsoft, introduce tethered headsets and high-end standalone VR headsets also enter the market,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. Ubrani said lower prices for headsets as well as lower PC hardware requirements will make VR more accessible.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Varjo promises a VR headset with ‘human eye-resolution’
    Codenamed “20/20,” it crams in 70 megapixels per eye.
    https://www.engadget.com/2017/06/19/varjo-promises-a-vr-headset-with-human-eye-resolution/

    A Finnish company called Varjo that has been working in secret until now has unveiled a new type of VR and AR headset code-named “20/20.” It supposedly has a display with “human eye-resolution” quality of over 70 megapixels versus around 1.2 megapixels per eye for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

    Varjo (which means “shadow” in Finnish), says it achieves that feat using “patented technology that replicates how the human eye naturally works, creating a super-high-resolution image to the users gaze direction.” It was supposedly developed by scientists that “formerly occupied top positions at Microsoft, Nokia, Intel, NVIDIA and Rovio.” While the resolution is much higher than current headsets, the 100-degree field of view is the same.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Adi Robertson / The Verge:
    Google announces new VR180 video standard, showing half a 360-degree view, and partners with Yi, Lenovo, and LG for new cameras — Google is launching a new, more limited cinematic VR format that it hopes will be almost as accessible as regular YouTube videos.

    Google is launching a new line of cameras for 180-degree VR video
    https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/22/15854308/google-youtube-vr180-video-camera-lenovo

    Google is launching a new, more limited cinematic VR format that it hopes will be almost as accessible as regular YouTube videos. It’s called VR180, a collaboration between YouTube and Google’s Daydream VR division. And it’ll be produced with a new line of cameras from Yi, Lenovo, and LG, as well as other partners who meet VR180 certification standards.

    As the name suggests, VR180 videos don’t stretch all the way around a viewer in VR. They’re supposed to be immersive if you’re facing forward, but you can’t turn and glance behind you. Outside VR, they’ll appear as traditional flat videos, but you can watch them in 3D virtual reality through the YouTube app with a Google Cardboard, Daydream, or PlayStation VR headset.

    Creators can shoot the videos using any camera with a VR180 certification.

    YouTube videographers are supposed to be able to shoot the way they would with any other camera, and will “soon” be able to edit the videos with Adobe Premiere Pro and other standard software. Based on the timeline above, it’ll be some time before you can buy a camera, but Google says creators can apply to loan one from one of its YouTube Spaces, which are found in nine major cities worldwide.

    Moving toward 180-degree instead of full 360-degree video has a few big advantages. It doesn’t need the same time-consuming (and often expensive) stitching as videos made with, say, Google’s 360-degree Jump system. You can put a person behind the camera without them appearing in the shot — in full 360-degree videos, filmmakers often literally hide behind objects during a scene. And it could push down file sizes

    A decent amount of VR film is already being shot with a 180-degree field of view — including sports videos from NextVR
    it lets filmmakers hedge their bets with something that’s easier to translate onto a flat screen. This doesn’t mean VR is in trouble

    https://vr.google.com/vr180/

    VR180 brings immersiveness to all kinds of videos, from vlogs to makeup tutorials, to music videos and everyday moments you just want to share.

    Daydream is partnering with Lenovo, LG, and YI Technology on VR180 cameras so you can shoot your own VR180 videos. Coming this winter.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CastAR Shuts Doors
    http://hackaday.com/2017/06/27/castar-shuts-doors/

    Polygon reports CastAR is no more.

    CastAR is the brainchild of renaissance woman [Jeri Ellsworth], who was hired by Valve to work on what would eventually become SteamVR. Valve let [Jeri] go, but allowed her to take her invention with her. [Jeri] founded a new company, Technical Illusions, with [Rick Johnson] and over the past few years the CastAR has appeared everywhere from Maker Faires to venues better focused towards innovative technologies.

    In 2013, Technical Illusions got its start with a hugely successful Kickstarter, netting just north of one million dollars. This success drew the attention of investors and eventually led to a funding round of $15 million. With this success, Technical Illusions decided to refund the backers of its Kickstarter.

    CastAR is an augmented reality system that puts computer-generated objects in a real, physical setting. Any comparison between CastAR and a VR system is incomplete; these are entirely different systems with entirely different use cases.

    Former Valve initiative CastAR shuts down
    About 70 employees laid off, Eat Sleep Play shuttered
    https://www.polygon.com/2017/6/26/15877804/castar-shut-down

    CastAR, the augmented reality start-up co-created by two former Valve employees, laid off its staff, shut down internal studio Eat Sleep Play and closed its doors today, according to now former employees.

    Less than 70 people have been laid off between the Palo Alto headquarters and its Salt Lake City studio which was comprised of former Eat Sleep Play and Avalanche Software employees.

    A core group of employees are working to try and sell the existing technology, a source tells Polygon.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CastAR Shuts Doors
    http://hackaday.com/2017/06/27/castar-shuts-doors/

    Polygon reports CastAR is no more.

    CastAR is the brainchild of renaissance woman [Jeri Ellsworth], who was hired by Valve to work on what would eventually become SteamVR. Valve let [Jeri] go, but allowed her to take her invention with her. [Jeri] founded a new company, Technical Illusions, with [Rick Johnson] and over the past few years the CastAR has appeared everywhere from Maker Faires to venues better focused towards innovative technologies.

    In 2013, Technical Illusions got its start with a hugely successful Kickstarter,

    Former Valve initiative CastAR shuts down
    About 70 employees laid off, Eat Sleep Play shuttered
    https://www.polygon.com/2017/6/26/15877804/castar-shut-down

    Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson launched the company in 2013 after leaving Valve with permission to take their AR research with them.

    The company, which had plans to launch its self-contained AR glasses later this year, was backed by finance group Playground. But, according to former employees, Playground Global declined to invest any more in the company last week. The company also failed to land any Series B funding from other potential investors.

    With no current backing and no future financial prospects, the company was left without any money and was forced to shut down.

    The tech behind CastAR came out of work Ellsworth and Johnson did while researching hardware, AR and VR at Valve. When Valve decided not to back AR, the company allowed the duo to leave with the research to form their own company.

    It was Andy Rubin, one of the fund’s founders and creator of Android, who not only backed the concept, but convinced Ellsworth and Johnson to essentially start from scratch.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nokia touts future of virtual reality ads… but who’s the audience?
    Can you pick up product, examine it from all sides? Not yet
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/07/03/nokia_touts_future_of_vr_ads/

    Nokia has premiered what it calls a first-of-its-kind immersive virtual reality advertising experience for its new line of digital health products. The advert is hitting two Nokia birds with one virtual stone: the ad shows off Nokia’s own burgeoning line of VR content creating hardware – the OZO camera – and its suite of digital health products.

    Nokia claims it’s advancing advertising, and the prospect of VR ecommerce with the new spot by “allowing consumers to not only discover Nokia’s new digital health products and solutions, but to interact with them and, in a first for VR, make purchases directly through an immersive experience.”

    Indeed, retail is one of the key verticals where VR seems likely to make a huge impact. Shoppers can enjoy the benefits of shopping from home, but with the added benefit of being able to better examine the products using VR.

    Augmented reality will be even more useful, where shoppers can overlay potential purchases into real world environments, like making sure a new couch fits in the living room, or even seeing how a new dress may look. The new VR ad, created by agency Brandwidth, doesn’t do any of that, though.

    As far as the Nokia ad is concerned, that’s really only half true. Instead, the viewer gets to see how this family is using these products from a distance, without the viewer getting to see the products themselves up close. It should also be noted that Nokia’s VR ad is technically a 360-degree video ad. A truly VR ad – so promises the industry, at least – will be immersive and interactive.

    The difference is that this ad can be watched on a desktop computer, or a mobile phone – no head-mounted display (HMD) needed. That’s good because HMD sales are still struggling. In Q1 2017, PC-based VR headsets sold a paltry 159,000; while mobilebased sets (like Google Daydream and Samsung GearVR) sold 952,000, according to SuperData Research.

    Nokia’s ad was filmed using its own OZO+ 360-degree camera and software.

    The camera has since been used in a number of high profile events, such as former US president Barack Obama’s farewell speech. But the $60,000 camera hasn’t gained much penetration yet among the professional studios filming VR content. Somehow, GoPro has managed to gain significant market share among content creators filming VR video, perhaps because GoPro cameras are cheaper and more rugged.

    Nokia is hoping that VR advertising, and by extension demand for its VR products, will expand in the coming year. The big question is how, exactly? VR headset applications remain limited to gaming and entertainment. The entertainment proposition seems particularly unstable, as watching a two-plus hour movie with a pair of goggles on doesn’t actually offer an improved viewer experience.

    How will advertising be incorporated into gaming in the short term? And won’t those ads only be delivered to an extremely niche audience of gamers?

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dean Takahashi / VentureBeat:
    Immersv, a mobile 360 and VR ad platform, raises $10.5M Series A led by Rogers Venture Partners with participation from HTC Vive, Initial Capital, and more

    Immersv raises $10.5 million for VR ads and mobile 360-degree video
    https://venturebeat.com/2017/08/18/immersv-raises-10-5-million-for-vr-ads-and-mobile-360-degree-video/

    Immersv has raised $10.5 million to strengthen its position as a provider of advertising for virtual reality and mobile 360-degree apps and games.

    The new round is a vote of confidence for the VR market and its cousin mobile 360 (where people view 360-degree images on their mobile devices). While some VR companies have run out of cash, Immersv’s funding shows that investors are still willing to put money into companies that are generating revenues in the emerging market.

    Mihir Shah, CEO of Emeryville, California-based Immersv, said in an interview with GamesBeat that mobile 360 content is generating more advertising revenue at the moment, but VR and augmented reality show great promise.

    “We are actually generating revenue, and we are not purely focused only on VR,” Shah said. “That helped us raise the money.”

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Darrell Etherington / TechCrunch:
    Facebook is rolling out an option to take 360-degree photos and video from inside its mobile apps, allows 360-degree images to be used as Cover Photos

    Facebook now lets you take 360 photos in-app, use them as Cover Photos
    https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/23/facebook-now-lets-you-take-360-photos-in-app-use-them-as-cover-photos/

    Facebook has been a big supporter of 360-degree photos and video, adding support for the immersive media formats early on Facebook itself. Now, the social tech company is adding support for capturing 360-degree photos right within the Facebook app itself.

    The 360 photo capability is rolling out across both iOS and Android starting today, and includes the ability to zoom and tag friends. It’s also now possible to use 360-degree images (from any source) as Cover Photos. This is the first ever update to format support Facebook has made for Cover Photos since its introduction.

    360 photos otherwise behave as regular pictures on Facebook, meaning you can post them to your Timeline, share them in albums alongside other standard images, and add them to groups. Capturing using the Facebook camera is designed to be as easy as possible, too, with Facebook employing computer vision and machine learning to automatically stitch the photo after you rotate your phone to capture it panorama-style.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Joe Lemire / SportTechie:
    How Intel’s weekly MLB broadcast, run by a team of ~12 people, uses VR to give viewers new viewpoints within the game alongside director-led “VR-Cast” option — NEW YORK — Those fans at Citi Field whose seats were low near the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks’ dugout last Tuesday …

    Virtual Reality Reaches The Big Leagues With Intel
    https://www.sporttechie.com/virtual-reality-mlb-intel/

    Beginning during the 2017 MLB regular season, Intel True VR is livestreaming one MLB game every Tuesday. Available via the Intel True VR app, the technology uses multiple panoramic, stereoscopic camera pods to create a more natural, realistic and immersive view that brings MLB fans closer to the action. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

    The production of the broadcasts remains a work in progress, a point that is self-acknowledged and almost a governing principle. Under the stewardship of producer Rusty West, the pioneering crew — all trained in traditional, linear TV — is experimenting to find the best way to create a VR experience for fans while maintaining a prime directive to avoid being too intrusive to the athletes.

    “The true intelligence rests in the IP and the cognitive power of our, basically, pilots and engineers that operate as your executive producer for what you’re going to see in VR,” Wright said.

    Intel has the capacity to track what viewers choose to spend their VR time — dugout views have thus far proved popular — which has guided production choices in this first season of a three-year partnership.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DIY 360 3D VR Camera
    Building a camera for 360-degree, stereoscopic 3D photos and videos.
    https://hackaday.io/project/26974-diy-360-3d-vr-camera

    360 photos are pretty cool, especially if you have the opportunity to view them in VR. However, stereoscopic 3D is what really brings the VR experience to life. The cheapest commerically available 360 3D camera is $800, and I’m attempting to build a camera for half that price or less. I’m using a Terasic DE10-Nano FPGA development board with a Cyclone V SoC onboard for stitching and data storage, and Omnivision OV5642 camera modules as the image input.

    My choice of camera module was easy. The OV5642 is cheap ($25 on Amazon), has good resolution, and has a decent amount of online documentation and drivers available. In addition, it uses the publicly documented Digital Video Port protocol rather than the secret MIPI protocol that is used by most camera modules.

    Implementation

    My planned datapath for photos will be as follows:

    FPGA implements parallel data receiver from camera
    FPGA writes data from camera to DDR3
    ARM running Linux and OpenCV reads frames from DDR3
    OpenCV performs fisheye correction, stitching, and writes compressed images to MicroSD

    The OV5642 module supports a variety of output formats, including JPEG compression. For still photos, I intend to set the camera modules to output raw RGB data for easy manipulation with OpenCV. For video, JPEG compression will likely be necessary.

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Are Mirrorless Cars Inevitable?
    Cameras provide a better 360-degree view, but mirrors still have advantages.
    https://www.designnews.com/automotive-0/are-mirrorless-cars-inevitable/110353639357437?ADTRK=UBM&elq_mid=963&elq_cid=876648

    “The environment needs innovation to meet our greenhouse gas goals,” Duncan told us. In contrast, today’s average car burns a full tank of fuel every year, just by transporting its mirrors, Duncan added.

    Automakers know this, which is why many are experimenting with mirrorless concepts. In 2016, for example, BMW showed off its i8 Mirrorless concept, which uses two small cameras in aerodynamic holders, and a third mounted on the rear windshield. Images from the cameras are projected on a high-res display suspended from the front windshield. In a press release, BMW declared, “Dangerous blindspots have been consigned to the past.”

    Automotive supplier Continental AG has also developed a system for replacing exterior and interior mirrors. The system uses three cameras inside the vehicle, along with two monitors that display rear and side views of the vehicle. The company claims that the system provides a wider field of vision and better visibility in poor light and rain. It also eliminates the problem of damaged exterior mirrors and reduces road noise, Continental said.

    Government Approval Needed

    Still, government approval is needed in order for automakers to take the concepts to production. In 2016, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved the Cadillac CT6’s “hybrid” display from Gentex Corp. , which combines a mirror and camera, but it has yet to bless a complete mirrorless design.

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google to let anyone add to Street View, starting with Insta360’s Pro camera
    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/02/google-to-let-anyone-add-to-street-view-starting-with-insta360s-pro-camera/

    Google has a new program called “Street View ready” which will make it possible for anyone with the right hardware to contribute to its Street View imaging database, typically assembled using Google’s official 360-degree camera-toting Street View cars. The first camera officially designated ‘Street View auto ready’ is Insta360’s Pro camera, the 8K 360 camera which captures still images at up to 5 frames per second, and which has real-time image stabilization built-in.

    Google will make it possible to control the Insta360 Pro from directly within the Street View app, and will also be allowing device to capture photos and videos and upload them from the official Insta360 Stitcher software. The Pro’s 5 fps 8K shooting mode is a new feature being added to the camera via software update tailor-made for capturing Street View content, and a new USB hardware accessory will also be shipping from Insta360 to attach GPS data to captured imaging data automatically.

    This sounds like a very cool way to let adventurous individuals contribute to the Google Street View imagery database, and it’ll help Google cover territory not necessarily easily reached by its own teams

    The camera retails for $3,499, and it’s the only hardware currently ‘Street View ready’-certified by Google.

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nokia Technologies intends to suspend the development of new versions of the OZO virtual reality camera

    Nokia focuses on patent, brand and technology licensing and seeks faster growth in digital healthcare by sharpening the strategy of its Nokia Technologies business group. At the same time, it means the end of the Ozo specialty product development and personal reductions in addition to Finland, in the United States and the UK.

    According to Nokia’s announcement, the backdrop of Ozo cameras is a slower development than the virtual reality market. Nokia Technologies intends to discontinue the development of new versions of the Ozo virtual reality camera but intends to continue its commitments to its existing customers.

    Planned changes are expected to result in a reduction of up to 310 jobs

    Sources:
    http://www.etn.fi/index.php/13-news/6972-nokia-irtisanoo-ozo-kehitys-loppuu
    https://www.uusiteknologia.fi/2017/10/10/nokia-luopuu-ozo-kamerakehityksesta-terveys-ja-patenttibisnes-jatkuu/

    Reply
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ina Fried / Axios:
    Nokia says it will stop work on future versions of its Ozo VR camera and cut up to 310 staff, or about 30% of its workforce, in its Nokia Technologies unit — In an abrupt about-face, Nokia said Tuesday it will halt work on future versions of its Ozo virtual reality camera and cut …
    http://www.axios.com/nokia-plans-to-scale-back-its-vr-effort-2495069482.html

    Reply
  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jon Fingas / Engadget:
    Samsung unveils 360 Round, a disc-shaped device with 17 2MP cameras and six microphones that can stream 4K VR at 30 FPS

    Samsung’s 360 Round camera livestreams 3D VR
    It’s meant for pros and serious VR fans.
    https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/18/samsung-360-round-vr-camera/

    Samsung already has a virtual reality camera in the form of the Gear 360, but it’s not really for pros — it’s for everyday users who want to record a 360-degree video on the street. What if you’re a pro, or a well-heeled enthusiast? Samsung has you covered: it’s launching the previously hinted-at 360 Round. The disc-shaped device carries a whopping 17 2-megapixel cameras and six microphones (plus two mic ports) to create 3D (that is, stereoscopic) VR video. It’s powerful enough to livestream 4K VR at a smooth 30 frames per second, helped in part by software that promises to stitch together immersive video with virtually no lag.

    Other nods to pro use? The Round is IP65 water resistant, so you can use it in the rain, and its unibody design is meant to keep you shooting for “hours” without the need for a noisy cooling fan.

    Samsung is releasing the 360 Round later in October for American buyers at an unmentioned price

    You’ll need a monster PC, especially if you’re livestreaming. A post-processing rig demands at least a Core i7-6700K, 16GB of RAM and GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, while livestreaming and preview machines ask for a 10-core i7-6950X

    Reply
  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PhotoPizza Automates 360° Video and Photography
    https://blog.hackster.io/photopizza-automates-360-video-and-photography-953269b53a3

    Getting a good photograph set up for one angle is hard enough, but if you need to show off multiple views of your product or DIY project, things can get complicated quickly. One solution is the PhotoPizza turntable, which you can buy or make yourself.

    Reply
  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Immersive VR with a 200-Degree Stereoscopic Camera
    https://hackaday.com/2017/10/29/immersive-vr-with-a-200-degree-stereoscopic-camera/

    VR is in vogue, but getting on board requires a steep upfront cost. Hackaday.io user [Colin Pate] felt that $800 was a bit much for even the cheapest commercial 360-degree 3D camera, so he thought: ‘why not make my own for half that price?’

    [Pate] knew he’d need a lot of bandwidth and many GPIO ports for the camera array, so he searched out the Altera Cyclone V SOC FPGA and a Terasic DE10-Nano development board to host it. At present, he has four Uctronics OV5642 cameras on his rig, chosen for their extensive documentation and support. The camera mount itself is a 3D-printed octagon so eight of the OC5642 can capture a full 360-degree photo.

    VR Camera: FPGA Stereoscopic 3D 360 Camera
    Building a camera for 360-degree, stereoscopic 3D photos and videos.
    https://hackaday.io/project/26974-vr-camera-fpga-stereoscopic-3d-360-camera

    360 photos are pretty cool, especially if you have the opportunity to view them in VR. However, stereoscopic 3D is what really brings the VR experience to life. The cheapest commerically available 360 3D camera is $800, and I’m attempting to build a camera for half that price or less. I’m using a Terasic DE10-Nano FPGA development board with a Cyclone V SoC onboard for stitching and data storage, and Omnivision OV5642 camera modules as the image input.

    Reply
  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lucas Matney / TechCrunch:
    Google unveils Resonance Audio, an open-source, cross-platform spatial audio SDK for VR, AR, games, and 360 video

    Google launches Resonance Audio, its new spatial audio SDK
    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/06/google-launches-resonance-audio-its-new-spatial-audio-sdk/

    As augmented reality slowly proliferates with the promise of bringing computer interaction into three-dimensional space, platform giants like Google are tasked with bringing every sense into 3D space, as well.

    Today, Google is taking some of the tech from its VR Audio SDK and building it into a more comprehensive spatial audio product called Resonance Audio that works across mobile and desktop platforms.

    At its core, Google wants to use the SDK to replicate “how real sound waves interact with human ears and with the environment.” How it does this is through accounting for how physical objects and environments distort the sound we hear in real life and replicating those in virtual scenarios.

    Reply

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