Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (or Mixed Reality) headsets have evolved quite a bit over the last few years. Improvements in resolution, lag, and other factors, have led to new, extremely immersive systems such as the HTC Vive. Hovewer, one missing feature is still holding back the technology:
Generally speaking, most of today’s displays consist of a two-dimensional display that’s placed at a fixed distance from the user’s eyes. This creates a conflict for our eyes and brain, which in the real world are used to a linked adjustment of the angle between the eyes (“vergence”) and the focus plain (“accommodation”). Recent proof-of-concept systems use up to three display planes, allowing us to experience discrete near, mid-range and far layer to focus on, but for a better, more immersive 3D experience we’ll need the ability to experience at almost continuous focal range.
The most promising solution to this problem is light field technology: For instance, Nvidia’s light field display prototype has shown successfully (though at low resolution) that it is possible to construct a light field image that allows placement of multiple objects at different focal planes or virtual distances. The Nvidia prototype uses a microlens array, much like in light field cameras from Lytro or Raytrix. Magic Leap is another company working on light field technology. While the company has teased a head-mounted light field display on several occasions, they have yet to explain how exactly their system works, let alone present a working prototype to the public.
Now, another company has entered the light field space. Head-mounted display maker Avegant has announced a new display that uses “a new method to create light fields” to simultaneously display multiple objects at different focal planes. While all digital light fields have discrete focal planes, according to Avegant CTO Edward Tang, the new technology can interpolate between these to create a “continuous, dynamic focal plane”. “This is a new optic that we’ve developed that results in a new method to create light fields,” says Tang. Continue reading →
Earlier this month, Lytro released two major software updates that bring a range of new features to the Lytro Illum and Lytro Desktop.
Upgrading your Lytro Illum to firmware v2.0 will get you a redefined, sleeker touchscreen interface, fully customizeable menu, physical distance information, and more area for your subjects in live view and and playback mode (including a new full screen view). Continue reading →
It looks sexy, but does it hold true to its promises? We tested the Lytro Illum light field camera for three weeks, and would like to give you a better idea of the camera and its features with this review.
Lytro Illum is the name of the second light field camera released by Lytro – and with that, the second consumer light field camera in the world. Compared to the first generation, which is sometimes referred to as a “proof of concept”, Lytro has upped its game to a camera targeted to “creative pioneers”: Its big 30-250 mm lens with constant f/2.0 aperture, the 40 megaray sensor and the integrated Snapdragon processor, the SD-card slot and the SLR-like appearance all indicate that the target audience is no longer just technology enthusiasts, but also semi-professional photographers. However, all that comes at a price, which is currently 1.299 US-Dollars or 1.299 Euro.
The Illum is unique, and that’s obvious even when just looking at the box: Remove the mantlepiece and you’ll see a black cardboard-cube which unfolds to reveal the light field camera. Continue reading →
A rather secretive startup from Hollywood, Florida, recently made headlines for raising a spectacular investment for their vision of the next generation of Virtual Reality. Big names like Google, Qualcomm Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and others have put together the sum of 540 million US-Dollars for a company called Magic Leap, but the public isn’t even sure what the company is working on.
The official press release reads: “Magic Leap is going beyond the current perception of mobile computing, augmented reality, and virtual reality. We are transcending all three, and will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase, learn, share and play.”
…and Magic Leap’s website doesn’t provide many details either.
The company is reportedly working on Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signals” (Digital Lightfield, in short), a “biomimetic” technology that “respects how we function naturally as humans”. What that means precisely, the company doesn’t explain. However, Technology Review has dug up some interesting patent applications by Magic Leap which may give us a glimpse into what convinced their investors: Continue reading →
Calibration is an important part of light field photography: Image processing and image quality can be significantly improved when the physical properties of the camera are known. More specifically, geometric information about the microlenses in a microlens-array-based light field camera can help create more precise depth maps with fewer errors.
Yunsu Bok and colleagues from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have devised a new method for geometric calibration which – in contrast to conventional methods – does not rely on processing sub-aperture images. Instead, they extract line features and compute a light field camera’s geometric parameters directly from RAW images. Continue reading →