Don’t just watch VR, make it with the Vuze 360-degree point-and-shoot camera

While there are an increasing number of ways to consume virtual reality content (Cardboard and Samsung’s Galaxy VR come to mind), there aren’t a lot of devices available for consumers to use in making content. But that’s about to change. At CES, HumanEyes Technologies showed off the Vuze, a device it calls the “world’s first affordable consumer 360-degree 3D VR camera.” That’s a marketing mouthful, but it’s essentially an easy-to-use point-and-shoot camera that takes a full spherical image of what’s around you, and it contains proprietary software designed for processing the content — whether it’s reliving a birthday or wedding — allowing you to view the result with VR headsets. The company is scheduling availability for August 2016, and a price of $1,000.

Described as bringing “immersive content creation to the masses,” the Vuze is an all-in-one solution to making 360-degree 3D VR, which usually requires elaborate film-making equipment; the company even touts the camera as a benefit to professional photographers and movie makers. The third-dimensional capture is important in a VR viewing experience, because it adds the sense of depth that is natural to how our eyes sees things, versus a flat image.

vuze-2

To capture 3D 360 as well as regular 2D, the Vuze uses eight full-HD cameras with ultra-wide-angle lenses — each able to shoot 120 degrees horizontal and 180 degrees vertical for a nearly full sphere — in 4K at 30 frames per second and at a variable bit rate of 120Mbps, the company says. The images are processed in near real-time and stitched using the Vuze Studio desktop software for Mac or PC. Videos are compressed internally in H.264 format for easy post-editing on a computer. The company says content from the Vuze will work with any VR headset or glasses, as well as with devices and software that support 3D viewing, such as 3D-capable TVs and YouTube and Facebook. With the Vuze VR Kit, a headset, made by Homido, will be included.

“Featuring a stylish design, the highly portable lightweight camera will be available in a variety of vibrant colors and comes with its own purposely engineered versatile selfie stick and tripod,” the company says. “Its battery and removable SD card can capture up to one hour of video allowing people to capture and relive every part of the world around them in breathtaking detail.” The camera can be controlled via an app for iOS and Android.

The Vuze Studio software is easy to use for novices, but complex enough for those skilled at video editing. The company touts the software’s fast processing and stitching (one minute per one minute of footage), and attributes it to a proprietary technique called “Adaptive Blending.”

“Conventional stitching techniques merge images together at regular linear points which can result in images appearing slightly disjointed when they intersect detailed or complicated objects,” the company says. “Adaptive Blending solves this by identifying objects the human eye is drawn to such as straight edges, light contrasts, and faces, then blends around them to create a seamless stitched image. Just as the brain fills in information delivered by the eyes, Vuze Studio combines captured images with intelligence to form a perfect picture.”

According to HumanEyes, the software also handles camera calibration; vignette, fisheye and perspective correction; white balance and exposure correction that supports separate manipulation of left and right panorama spheres to ensure consistent correction between left & right panoramas; 3D 360 video stabilization without cropping; stereo alignment for consistent parallax; and a variety of editing capabilities, including insertion of objects, images and text (including 3D) and with stereo effect, embedding logos in the nadir (bottom) and changing the field of view of 360 x 180-degree scene, and adding 3D text and objects.

The Vuze is the first consumer hardware product from HumanEyes. The company may not be a familiar name, but it has been around since 2000, described as a “pioneer in photographic 3D, animated content creation, printing, display and processing in lenticular graphic arts,” and led by experts in computer vision. From some of the 360 samples HumanEyes posted to YouTube, the image quality looks decent with smooth motion, although the colors look a bit off. HumanEyes told us that the lower quality is an issue on YouTube’s end. We had a brief opportunity to try out the experience on a VR headset, running on a phone. Again, the panning motion is smooth, but it doesn’t look as vivid as we expected. We aren’t sure how much of that is due to the display limitations of the phone, but the Vuze is still in its development stages.

While VR will be making a lot of noise at CES 2016, it’s still nascent technology, and hardware like the Vuze is still early-adopter territory. It’s hard to tell if cameras like this will gain traction with consumers at the initial stage. Still, we can expect more of these cameras to appear if VR continues to grow, and Vuze is certainly trying to position itself at the forefront.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: First 5G phone, Batcole Foundation, and a new data breach

Tuesday on Digital Trends Live, Greg Nibler discussed trending topics such as the Quora data breach, and Jeremy Kaplan was joined by Katie Linendoll from the Batcole Foundation to discuss the benefits of AR and VR in hospital rooms.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high-tech and low-budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Social Media

Hotel chain offers an Instagram ‘sitter’ who will post photos for you

If the pressure to post stunning Instagram photos is ruining your vacations, then how about hiring a local Instagram influencer to do the job for you while you go off and enjoy yourself? Well, such a service now exists.
Social Media

Ride the rails and share your stories with Amtrak’s new social media residency

Amtrak is looking for travel fans with a knack for telling stories on social media. The new Amtrak social media residency program wants amateur travelers to share photos, video, and written content from aboard long-distance trips.
Photography

Full-frame mirrorless cameras just made their Hollywood debut with this thriller

The Possession of Hannah Grace isn't just a thriller -- it's also the first Hollywood feature film to be shot completely with a full-frame mirrorless camera. The film was shot with several Sony a7S II bodies and anamorphic lenses.
Photography

Lens Rentals zooms in on the most popular cameras of the year

As 2018 comes to a close, Lens Rentals is taking a look at most popular cameras of the year, based on rental data. While Sony and Panasonic saw more rentals than the previous year, Canon is still the most-rented brand on the platform.
Photography

Luminar’s new libraries don’t even need you to manually import images

Luminar 3's new libraries feature doesn't require importing -- images are automatically added after clicking on a folder. The long-promised libraries feature gives editors a Lightroom alternative with organization tools as well as syncing…
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Photography

Photography News: Startup redesigns tripod heads ‘inside out’ for more flexibility

Well, this doesn't look like the ball heads that we've seen before. Instead of designing a tripod ball head with a small cutout, the Colorado Tripod Company created one with most of the ball exposed, allowing for more possible angles.
Photography

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.