Ever wish you could be at the party, concert, or important event, when you weren’t able to make it? Sure, you could have someone FaceTime or Skype you in with a phone, or live-stream it via Periscope, but it doesn’t feel the same as actually being there, naturally. A new camera called the Eyse, however, puts that live-streaming approach into a virtual reality headset, giving you that in-person perspective.
Unlike a typical camera, the Eyse shoots video in 3D, which gives the user a more immersive VR-like experience. Vairdo, the company behind the camera, just launched a Kickstarter to help fund the Eyse’s production.
Described as a “Wi-Fi 3D camera for real-time VR experiences,” the Eyse (styled by the firm as EYSE, which is short for “extend yourself everywhere”) uses two 5-megapixel HD cameras (upgradeable to 13 megapixels, according to Vairdo) that simultaneously shoot videos via a Wi-Fi connection. The cameras aren’t capturing a wide-angle shot, but instead create two perspectives that give a sense of depth. Essentially, it’s stereoscopic 3D. While 3D has been labeled a flop in television viewing, that depth perception is what makes VR experiences enjoyable.
Although it’s described as a VR experience, it really isn’t. While there are two cameras, they are both pointed in the same direction, which means you can only look forward and in the direction the Eyse is mounted. Even though the video is viewed through a VR headset, you can’t look around as you would in an actual VR experience, as this isn’t a 360-degree camera. Think of it as a 3D action cam.
And like an action cam, you can carry it in your hand, clip it onto clothing, mount it on a helmet or bike, or even attach it to a consumer drone. It’s rugged (waterproof and shock proof), and it’s easy to use (one-button operation, with additional controls via a smartphone app for iOS and Android).
And there are a few features that improve on the typical action cam design. The Eyse’s lenses capture an undistorted field of view (no fish-eye), with 110 degrees of pivoting motion for a 180-degree field of view. There are tiny sensors that maintain stability and monitor various conditions, a built-in GPS, an LED light for night shooting, and bi-directional audio (speaker and mic), to give the user more of that “being there” feeling. The lenses can be covered with filters that protect while adding some personality (the camera does look like a cute robot, after all).
The Kickstarter campaign includes a VR headset, which is used with your smartphone, but the Eyse app works with any headset. You can also view the live-feed on your phone in 2D mode, while content is saved onto a Micro SD card. Vairdo says content can be viewed on 3D TVs via a firmware upgrade.
The Eyse uses standard AA-sized batteries, but considering the power it draws, it requires rechargeable lithium-ion versions. This is a smart move as lithium-ion AA batteries are readily available in most stores, and are handy when there isn’t a outlet around. The batteries, which provide 2-8 hours (depending on use), can be charged in-camera via USB. Vairdo also made the Eyse compatible with Qi Wireless induction charging.
Vairdo says beta units are scheduled to ship by the end of the year, with an October goal. But the company already has working prototypes, which are being used to record demo videos like the one below (you can see more on the Kickstarter page).
The Eyse has a MSRP of $699, which is a bit steep for an action cam and, to be honest, a visual technology (3D) that hasn’t really taken off with consumers, though Fujifilm tried with a 3D point-and-shoot camera several years ago. Also, we aren’t sure if the camera has enough resolution to capture videos that aren’t nauseating to watch. If the campaign is successful, though, it could prove there is market viability for this type of camera. The campaign has an early-bird pledge of $349 for a basic camera that includes a headset (though it lacks GPS, LED, wireless charging, and other features), while higher-priced packages give you additional accessories and features.
Vairdo isn’t a household name, but the San Jose, California-based computing and robotics company has been developing products and technologies for the military and industry. The Eyse is targeted toward consumers, but it’s based on the tech Vairdo has developed for other non-consumer applications.