Canon aims to change the videoconferencing game with a new virtual reality (VR) platform called Kokomo. Essentially, it utilizes Canon’s cameras to create an experience where interacting with other people in a video call is closer to conversing with them in person.
Canon created Kokomo as a software solution that utilizes a VR headset connected to a smartphone and a Canon camera fitted with Canon’s new RF 5.2mm F/2.8 L Dual Fisheye lens. Canon is currently showing off the system using the Eos R5 full-frame mirrorless camera, though compatibility with other Canon cameras will be added later on, along with new features.
Canon describes Kokomo as software that will allow you to interact with live recordings of other people in photo-real virtual environments such as Malibu, California, New York, or Hawaii (more locations will be added over time). Think of it like using a green screen effect on Zoom to make it look like you’re somewhere else, except with Kokomo, the experience will be significantly more immersive.
Canon is calling this the ”Real Together Experience,” and the aim is to make talking over the internet feel more like you and whoever you’re conversing with are in the same room, rather than sharing a mere two-dimensional video or fake digital avatar. Such technology could, if Canon is correct, allow people to better connect with others during online interactions.
It’s not known yet exactly what equipment will be compatible with Kokomo, but it is clear that it will require a fairly expensive setup to work. If this system only works with a high-end Canon camera, the dual fisheye lens, and a compatible VR headset, then it’ll cost you roughly between $5,000 and $7,000 to use Kokomo. Also consider that if you want to talk to anyone else using Kokomo, they also need that specific and expensive equipment. Furthermore, we don’t yet know how much the software will cost or how it will be monetized.
I don’t think that Kokomo in its current form is going to be something everyone is going to go out and buy to have in their homes. It seems better suited for businesses that need one-on-one interaction over long distances, or perhaps for education, where a school could loan out the equipment to students so that they could participate remotely in a realistic virtual classroom. It could fix some of the fundamental problems with traditional videoconferencing that pose such a problem for many professions.
Further down the road when more accessible hardware is available, such mixed reality VR conferencing may become commonplace. Kokomo could very well be a glimpse into our future just a few years hence.
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