One of the most exciting application areas for visual search technology continues to be virtual reality, aka “VR”. There certainly has been a lot of crazy VR hype recently:
[At the Game Developer’s Conference] It was a developer frenzy.
What’s going on? VR isn’t brand new, we’re on version 2.0 here; has it finally evolved to where somehow, suddenly, it looks like it might be beginning to work? Or is this industry desperation?
When VR didn’t work, it was a grubby arcade-alike with a faint smell of puke. Now, with the top end gear just-released to the early adopter crowd, it has the hallmarks of some kind of possible game changer. As is common in new tech hype, the possibilities in VR are being touted as the next major shift in how Things Get Done. The next major tech paradigm.
But some of this is a lot more than just hype. Facebook became one of the big players in the space when they acquired Oculus a couple of years ago. Just recently they announced a 360 degree camera for recording VR content – their first hardware product, and evidence they are investing their considerable resources in making this market happen.
The flying-saucer-shaped rig has 14 cameras around its edge, one fisheye camera pointing up and two cameras pointing down. Facebook says the camera produces “truly spherical video.” And thanks to the amount of cameras on the rig, it captures the stereoscopic images needed for 3D.
The software will stitch together the video in 4K, 6K and 8K for each individual eye for stereoscopic playback. According to Brian Cabral, a director of engineering who headed the project, the stitching software will work on a family of rigs that are similar to the Surround 360.
While VR has been adopted by gamers and game developers, creating video footage has been difficult for the average person. Rigs like GoPro’s Omni require users to buy multiple cameras in addition to the array hardware. Facebook’s open-source system will keep videographers from having to buy expensive software, but they still have to buy those cameras and the materials needed to create the mount.
But … is there money to be made? A lot of people think so. TechCrunch recently posted a good summary of the reality of AR/VR business models.
There are a lot of current models, but what really has people excited is the potential for the future, especially in the applications of VR to business. This is attracting investors to companies like Marxent, which recently raised $10M for enterprise focused VR. As the WSJ reports:
Most virtual reality headsets today are focused on gaming, but enthusiasts believe some of the most exciting applications for the technology will be for enterprise tools.
At eyesFinder, we agree. And we remain very excited about the potential for transformational visual search technology to enable those applications.