Lytro debuted with a camera that lets you refocus your photos after the fact, but their latest concept attempts to use that tech to let users move around a virtual scene. By capturing all the rays of light in a 360 field of view, the Lytro Immerge wants to evolve how virtual reality footage is captured.
Whereas existing VR camera setups capture and play back a 360-degree view from a static point, Lytro says the Immerge enables something they’re calling cinematic VR, allowing users to move in six directions, basically covering all natural motion.
By capturing all the rays of light that would normally pass through the space the orb-like Immerge takes up, Lytro’s tech is able to infer how a moving scene looks from various angles.
The Lytro team sees this as a way to capture live footage that can be used as a backdrop for ultra-realistic computer-generated graphics. By capturing real-life scenes that respond to the natural movement of a person’s body, studios can produce VR scenes that feels far more real than today’s VR.
Right now, Lytro is accepting applications for its first batch of prototypes, which should be ready for user testing in 2016. The full setup includes a tripod-mounted light-field camera rig, software licenses for editing the footage, and a specialized server that is able to capture the vast amount of data collected by the camera. According to Bloomberg Business, it will cost up to $500,000, but Lytro is also expected to rent them for up to $8,000 per day.