Most of us know Lytro for their light field cameras that capture scenes in a way that allows you to refocus an image anywhere you want with the click of a button without having to take a new image. I'll admit, I thought it was a neat trick, but as a commercial photographer, I never saw how it would apply to someone like myself. Well, Lytro has blown me away today with the announcement of their new virtual reality camera system that works much like their light field cameras and allows the user to move within a video environment (not a computer-rendered space) while wearing a virtual reality headset. They have officially changed the game.
Specific technical details are limited, but the sample video above has made me a believer. You can actually see how you can move within a filmed space. You see, up until now, this really was not possible in the virtual reality space, unless the environment was rendered, much like a video game in 3D. Otherwise, you were stuck looking around in all directions from a central axis.
Apparently, you can only lean in about six degrees with this Lytro camera (see example video at this link), but even that amount of movement will allow for an incredible amount of improved immersion in the virtual reality experience. They will be launching their own players, apps, and editing support as well. I have a feeling this camera and associated technology will make post production much easier than it is for current 360 degree VR camera systems.
There's no word on pricing, but expect it to be close to six figures. Any camera that requires its own server rack will most certainly cost a pretty penny.
Learn more about the camera on the Lytro page.