One small step for man, one giant leap for virtual reality.
Lytro just debuted the first footage from its VR camera rig Immerge, dubbing it “the first Live Action VR example to simulate true presence with Light Field video.”
Meaning: we’re getting very close to the Holodeck from Star Trek.
Quick explanation: Right now there are two types of virtual reality: “High Immersion,” which allows viewers to navigate freely around virtual spaces that aren't photorealistic, and “Low Immersion,” which is highly realistic 360 video but can only be experienced from a fixed point of view. Basically, there are compromises a user has to make with each technology. “Neither of these brings us the ‘jet packs and flying cars’ future VR has promised,” as Lytro said in their most recent blog post.
But Lytro’s Immerge camera promises to use “light field photography” to record all the light that strikes an image sensor, not just capture it straight on. It makes it easier to reconstruct scenes. Combining this photography with powerful software allows viewers to basically have free reign to move around an almost real-to-life setting.
The 38-second clip “Moon” is the first example of this. It’s basically a riff on a faked lunar landing, with a viewer looking at an astronaut on the Moon before a camera crew appears and says it’ll require another take. While it’s a seated experience for the viewer — and a rather limited one — it does allow a user to peer around objects and see accurate reflections.
Giant leap? No. But consider it a “realistic” first step toward a true VR future.