Lytro, purveyor of novelty focus-fiddling cameras, has come up with a new and utterly baffling piece of hardware – the Lytro Immerge – and the media are already starting to salivate and say how groundbreaking it is without actually having the slightest clue what it does.
The device, which looks like some kind of bad 1980s lamp stand, is basically a 360 degree light field camera. Creating new undefined and possibly meaningless technomarketing terms (‘light-field volume”) to replace the perfectly good and meaningless terms they invented last time (such as “megarays”) took the last year and a half according to Lytro.
This device captures video rather than images. And it is designed as a capture device for VR video for things such as the Oculus Rift which Facebook bought for $2 billion back in 2014 after, presumably, getting blind drunk. Now I’m pretty sure Facebook are secretly wishing they had simply ended up with an embarrassing tattoo instead, but stubbornly they are carrying on with this thing that they claim will change society completely. Note: the last technology that the designers claimed would change society completely was the Segway.
So, Lytro have decided that their particular brand of pointless pixel fiddling fits in perfectly with Facebook’s Oculus Rift strategy, and for once I could not agree more. Essentially after failing for several years to get one of the big camera companies to take them seriously and buy them out they’re now hoping that Facebook (or one of the other companies developing VR hardware) will open their cheque books. And that could very well happen.
Anyway, back to the device. What on earth does it do?
Here’s what they say:
“Each one of the layers [of the camera] represents a very densely packed wave of light-field sensors… it’s a 360-degree light-field capture. And then by stacking five on top of one another, we’re giving you a capture of the full light-field volume. You’ll get roughly a cubic meter of area that you’ll be able to fully capture the set of rays within that. And then, from a consumer experience, you’ll be able to move around within that volume and have the world react accordingly.”
Yay. I can put on a headset and move myself around inside a cubic meter of area.
Just for reference. That’s moving around inside one single block in Minecraft.
Update: This magic bollard will apparently cost from $250,000 !!!!!