Plans to ship in August for $399.
Samsung’s Gear VR is designed to work with Samsung smart phones. However, with the right viewing apps, it can sometimes be used to view VR and 3D videos with non-Samsung smart phones.
At the time I bought a Gear VR headset, it was apparently the only type of “Google Cardboard” Viewer headsets that included a diopter adjustment to correct for near or far sightedness. Basically, going back a year or two, VR viewers were unusable by most people over age 45 due to presbyopia (and the need to wear reading glasses as we get older).
I use the Gear VR to view some VR content using an old Nexus 4 phone and an app that supports either a Bluetooth mouse button for clicking. The Gear VR otherwise only supports clicking with Samsung phones but you can pair a Bluetooth mouse to your smart phone and use the mouse button (or the mouse pointer!)
- Kodak Pixpro 180 – a VR 360 camera that unfolds, points both lenses in the same direction and turns into a VR 180 stereoscopic 3D camera!
- Vuze+ VR 360 3D camera
- Stereoscopic VR 180 3D cameras, built on Google’s standard, introduced
- High End – 8 camera VR 360 3D system
- I assume there is also something new from LucidCam as well.
I will do a post at some point on re-formatting conventional 3D video for use in VR Cardboard viewers.
Conventional 3D video typically used side-by-side or top over bottom encoding of 3D content. Top over bottom does not work at all for conventional VR viewing apps, and side-by-side displays a horizontally squished/vertically stretched image perspective. Consequently, neither works with standard VR viewers. Side by side is also sometimes called “half side by side”.
Some apps do correctly recreate a side by side image but do so only in a small portion of the phone’s screen centered in front of the cardboard viewer’s lenses. Unfortunately, this small image cuts the image resolution so low that the image quality suffers tremendously and the original 3D content is nearly useless.
IF Cardboard viewing apps provided reformatting of standard 3D formats into VR 3D formats properly, this would not be a problem. But for now, it is a big problem.
A possible solution, based on my tests, is to take one’s original stereoscopic 3D and recompress an output file as full size, side by side. Upload the full size, side by side video to Youtube.
When played back on the Youtube viewer, these videos display using most of the phone screen, such that image resolution remains very good. Each eye sees an original image in a 960×540 resolution (roughly) which is far better than perhaps half of that seen on conventional side by side Cardboard viewing apps.
More on this another time.
This is exciting – 4-5 years ago, I approached all the camera makers at CES about adding an SDK for their cameras. Panasonic was interested, Sony and Canon did not blow me off, but Nikon was stuck on stupid.
Nikon told me that allowing third parties to add features to their products would ruin the Nikon brand.
I said, “Just like how third party software ruined the Apple iPhone?”
The Nikon staff did actually laugh at that and noted they understood what I was saying but they had to speak the company line and management would never go for something like that. Since then, Nikon has been suffering significant financial challenges – oh well!
By “effective” we mean, propaganda that is more successful at persuading someone to adopt someone else’s agenda:
“What really makes people trust VR more is that it creates a greater sense of realism compared to text and that creates the trustworthiness,” said Sundar.
I picked up a Samsung Gear 360 (2016 model), which shoots 30 megapixel 360 still images and 4K video (3840 pixels wide) for US $109. Amazon has them really cheap right now – I assume Samsung is getting rid of the 2016 model as they introduced the 2017 version, also called Gear 360 (but a completely different camera with only 15 megapixel still capability, and a built-in, non user changeable battery).
If you want, you can buy the 2016 Gear 360 (the one I’m now using for this video clip) at Amazon here for just US $ 108.75!
The intent is that VR180 is a simpler format to shoot, costs less to shoot, may be easier to edit – and generally makes VR-like video production more widely available. The format also supports 3D.
VR180 cameras are expected to be on the market by late 2017 or early 2018.
As I’ve said before, smart phones provide an inexpensive entry point for virtual reality viewing:
A key benefit is that it does not require you to buy a new TV. Instead, you can use a smartphone, which 84% of Australians already have.
Consumer 3D TV died for multiple reasons
- Little to no content available (huge reason)
- Expense of purchasing a new TV just after many had upgraded to HDTV.
- The global economic collapse in 2009 onwards.
- And as the article notes, many parts of the world were just converting to digital television transmission, adding another hurdle for consumers.
Basically, timing and lack of content ended the consumer 3D TV market – and had nothing to do with having to wear glasses to view 3D, contrary to widespread news reporters assertions that 3D died because of “3D goggles” (the same reporters now gush over VR “helmets”).
While 3D TV has mostly disappeared for now, a lot of people are viewing 3D using VR 3D “Google Cardboard” viewers with their smart phones. There are Youtube videos targeting this audience that have been watched hundreds of thousands of times.
VR “cardboard-style” viewers provide a low cost way to watch VR 360 and VR 3D – whereas the consumer 3D TV market is disappearing, it appears to be replaced with online viewing of VR 3D content and games.
The media bad mouthed 3D – falsely referring to eyeglasses as “goggles” – contributing to the stunted market for consumer 3D TV. This CNET story reads like those old stories – just change “3D” to”VR”:
Virtual reality promises to be a mega-trend that upends how we use computers and just plain get along. So why’s it such a snooze at the world’s biggest tech expo?
Yep, it’s 2017 and VR is just a snooze, practically dead, isn’t it?
Reminder – 3D was launched into a market in the midst of a near global economic depression. People who had just upgraded their old TVs to new HDTVs were asked to upgrade to more expensive 3D TVs. That was a non-starter. Second, there was very limited 3D content available. A limited selection of 3D BluRays – plus one or two 3D TV networks available only to a few. With little to watch, there was little reason to upgrade one’s HDTV to a new 3D HDTV.
News reporters, many of whom admitted they did not like 3D movies, invented their own explanation – they proclaimed consumers did not like “3D goggles”, referring to eyeglasses. The same reporters who wrote that then later wrote enthusiastically about Virtual Reality – never mind that VR elevates the “goggles” to literal helmets.
Now some reporters seem to be turning against VR because VR is not already in every home and being used for every possible application. The technology just isn’t roll out fast enough!
VR has something going for it that 3D TV did not – Google Cardboard-style viewers. Low cost, simple viewers that use existing smart phones enable consumers to enjoy VR 360 and VR 3D videos and games – at low cost! No large investment is required – no need to purchase an expensive 3D TV and upgrade your DVD player to 3D BluRay.
Second, content is delivered as gaming applications – no cable TV or satellite network support needed, as was needed for 3D. Users can watch VR 360 and VR 3D videos hosted on Youtube, Facebook and other online sites.
To summarize, VR has going for it:
- Inexpensive ways to begin using VR today!
- Access to free and inexpensive VR content, readily available!
- Can also be used to watch 3D video – as a bonus feature – at no additional cost