In October this year, at their annual IFA event, Samsung revealed to the world that they had been working on their very own virtual reality device, the Gear VR. Built in collaboration with Oculus VR, this device makes use of the low-latency Super AMOLED screen of the Galaxy Note 4 in order to provide users with an innovative point of access to VR technology.
However, after hitting the market this week, people have begun to see some of the shortcomings of this device. The most notable of these is the lack of content which is well optimised for use in a virtual reality environment, meaning that for some it feels like a device ahead of its time. In order to address this lack of content, Samsung has revealed a new camera setup which they are calling Project Beyond.
In effect, Project Beyond is a device which can take immersive photos made specially for a virtual reality environment. To do this, they have created a camera which can take full 360 degree photos in High Definition in a somewhat similar way to Google’s photo spheres. However they go much further than this, as all the images taken from these devices are also 3D, utilising a similar stereoscopic effect to what is used in 3D movies.
The device contains no less than 16 Full HD cameras
To produce these massive 360 degree, 3D panoramas, Project Beyond needs alot of cameras. The disc-like form of the device contains no less than 16 Full HD cameras, which themselves need advanced processing optics, and their own inbuilt cooling system. As well, the system itself produces a gigantic amount of data (1 Gigapixel every second when recording) which may make it very difficult to store.
Nonetheless, users who have previewed footage shot from the camera say it provides an immersive VR experience like no other. Perhaps eventually this will be able to be combined with something like Google Street View in order to allow us to take walking tours of entire cities in Virtual Reality environments. However in order to get there, we will need to see big increases in the amount of data we can store at cheap prices.
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