Startup Live Planet plans to deliver its first cameras in December as part of an end-to-end stereoscopic 360-degree video platform aimed at making it easier for creators to stream live high-quality content.
Live Planet is led by serial entrepreneur Halsey Minor, who largely self-funded this company after a long track record at the start of businesses like CNET, Salesforce and GrandCentral (which later became Google Voice). With 360-degree video, he’s intimately aware of the failures of other products on the market, including Nokia’s OZO, and aims to succeed through a combination of high-quality hardware and easy-to-use software.
SHENZHEN, China, Oct. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Kandao Technology, a Shenzhen-based leading VR camera manufacturer and solution provider, announced today that its flagship Obsidian 3D VR camera has been selected as a winner as the German Design Award 2018 in the Excellent Product Design category.
The German Design Award is one of the most prestigious design competitions in the world. Every year, only a select few products who are already recognized worldwide with high design and quality standard are eligible for nomination by the German Design Council. The “winner” title is an award of excellence bestowed only on entries chosen by the jury from within each category.
From over 5,000 entries among various international participants, a judging panel of experts chose the Kandao Obsidian 3D VR camera as this year’s winner in the Excellent Product Design category. The panel described Obsidian as “surprisingly user-friendly” as users can operate it purely by instinct no matter how complicated the hardware and software inside are, it is truly a camera designed for VR content creators. This achievement marked Kandao Obsidian’s first nomination in this award. It is also the second international award received by Obsidian, following a previous award of “Best of Innovation Honoree” at CES 2017.
The Obsidian 3D VR camera was developed to enable innovative storytellers to create high-quality stereoscopic 360-degree videos for immersive virtual reality experience. It comes equipped with a deep learning based post-production software solution for stitching and depth map generation and offers up to 8K resolution 3D spherical videos, still image capturing capability and the addition of 3D 4K VR live streaming functionality.
With the product and technology, Kandao Technology makes every effort to explore new ways to apply VR in various industries, for example, VR in education, travel, live events, and the furniture, wedding, and real estate industries, to change the way how people feel and connect to the world.
Now, the Obsidian 3D VR camera is available for purchase worldwide at an official price of $6999.
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.
Its first demonstration short will be presented this week at the On the Lot confab.
Lytro, the Silicon Valley-based company that’s developing light-field based technology for Hollywood, is launching a new tool for the animation community to use to create virtual reality and other immersive experiences.
Describing it as a “virtual version of our physical cameras,” Lytro Cinema general manager Buzz Hays said the new Lytro Volume Tracer is light-field technology-based software designed to help animators get a quality level and realism closer to that of high-end animated features, but with near real-time rendering, bringing it more in line with the capabilities offered in a game engine.
In a surprising statement, Nokia has halted development of the Ozo VR camera, laying off 310 employees, due to slower than expected development of the VR market.
Translation, “Sales are way down, mainly due to competitive pressure and the high price of the Ozo.”
Here’s the official word:
“In digital media, the slower-than-expected development of the VR market means that Nokia Technologies plans to reduce investments and focus more on technology licensing opportunities. The unit aims to halt development of further versions of the OZO VR camera and hardware, while maintaining commitments to existing customers.
The potential reductions are expected to affect up to 310 of the roughly 1090 employees in Nokia Technologies, mainly in Finland, the US and the UK. To start the process, Nokia today has invited employee representatives of Nokia Technologies in Finland to cooperation negotiations.
“Nokia Technologies is at a point where, with the right focus and investments, we can meaningfully grow our footprint in the digital health market, and we must seize that opportunity,” said Gregory Lee, president of Nokia Technologies. “While necessary, the changes will also affect our employees, and as a responsible company we are committed to providing the needed support to those affected.”
Ricoh has revealed a brand new version of its Theta 360-degree camera: The Theta V, which upgrades the video capture quality to 4K resolution, adds live streaming support, and immersive “surround” sound audio recording. It takes over as the flagship Ricoh 360 camera, adding some much-appreciated modernized touches to one of the oldest and best-loved lines of consumer 360 cameras around.
The Ricoh Theta V also has a new high-speed wireless radio for faster data transfer, boosting it up to 2.5 times faster vs. the existing version. It also includes improved exposure and white balance accuracy, and boosted dynamic range, which Ricoh says should result in far better image quality in all lighting situations. The improved imaging tech was borrowed from the Pentax line of DSLRs, the company says.
PlayStation VR may be the least expensive way to enter the world of virtual reality, but it still isn’t cheap. Previously, the headset sold for $400 in addition to the mandatory PlayStation Camera for an additional $60, but that changes this week with the newest PlayStation VR bundle.
Starting on September 1, the PlayStation VR’s standard bundle will come with a PlayStation Camera for $400, effectively giving customers a $60 discount. Sony says that this will be the “core” PlayStation VR bundle moving forward, so if you already own the camera but haven’t picked up the headset yet, you might want to act quickly.
In addition to the $400 option, those looking to also pick up a game with PlayStation VR can check out the $450 PlayStation VR Worlds bundle — previously called the “launch bundle” at most retailers. The package contains everything from the standard bundle and adds two PlayStation Move controllers and the PlayStation VR Worlds game. Coming with several different mini-games, including The London Heist, Danger Ball, and the enthralling Ocean Descent, it’s a great way to get introduced to VR technology, though not all of the games are created equal. VR Luge is a pretty mediocre racing game, and Scavengers Odyssey is all but guaranteed to make you queasy.
You can probably already guess that the Kandao Obsidian isn’t intended for the consumer market but it is still an interesting piece of camera technology. Both the Kandao Obsidian R and Obsidian S are comprised of 6 fish-eye synced lenses that can capture high-quality stereoscopic and spherical videos/photos and time-lapses, supporting three recording modes (flat, standard, and log), and DNG format for photos.
The Obsidian R features 8K (7,680 x 7,680) high-resolution recording at 30 fps, the Obsidian S is optimized for high frame rate shooting, producing up to 120 fps footage in 4K resolution, as well as 6K x 6K resolution at 30 or 50 fps, which is ideal for the high-end professionals who need high speed VR content, like motion or sports. Both cameras are Wi-Fi enabled through one Ethernet cable for fast connectivity to mobile devices or laptops, making remote control a much easier for professional directors.
The Kandao Obsidian cameras also offer up a software solution that can do post-processing, editing, stitching, video encoding, and live streaming. The stitching process of Kandao Studio is built on optical flow code and optimized by a deep learning algorithm to generate seamless and natural stereoscopic 360 panoramas automatically, capturing depth information from images as well.