Meet The LucidCam, The Future Of Shopper VR
I used to be at a meet and greet thrown by a outstanding VC agency this week and it was fairly pleasurable. There have been pleasant faces, conversations and a few people huddled round a desk within the nook. Wait. That’s so not “social.” I went over to discover and what have been they doing? Testing digital actuality, in fact. Prepared or not, right here it comes.
Making an attempt to wade by way of the noise and hype that surrounds VR might be overwhelming, however there are clear actual-world makes use of that make the way forward for the know-how thrilling. Lucid flew by way of that noise for me. The factor that’s going to deliver the “future” to the “now” is a killer app that buyers can perceive and extra importantly afford.
That’s the place Lucid is available in.
The corporate has prototyped some extent and shoot VR digital camera that’s ridiculously straightforward to make use of, appears nice, requires no submit-manufacturing by the consumer and can value $299. Sounds sort of loopy, doesn’t it? I assumed so, and so does their group…which makes issues much more fascinating. I met with Lucid’s CEO, Han Jin, and we chatted about the way forward for VR as he sees it.
Digital actuality continues to get a whole lot of momentum inside tech circles (together with entrepreneurs and buyers), however the battle continues to get mainstream audiences enthusiastic about what’s to return. Google’s making an attempt to vary that with its Cardboard venture and The New York Occasions shipped stated Cardboard out to its readers together with the paper this week. YouTube’s additionally getting in on the act in an enormous method.
I watched an NBA recreation in VR and it was fairly cool. Plenty of people are enjoying video games in a approach that they dreamt about their whole lives. However what’s going to grip “center America?” How’s mother going to get into VR?
That’s what me probably the most about Lucid.
Robots and prototypes
Jin and Lucid have raised an undisclosed sum of money from unnamed buyers, however is driving curiosity with its LucidCam with an Indiegogo marketing campaign that’s virtually midway to $one hundred,000 with about forty eight days left to go.
When Han and his his group have been engaged on outfitting robots with cameras, they copied designs from safety cameras. The robots did nevertheless get the staff occupied with the thought of experiencing issues somewhere else the place they weren’t bodily. Utilizing an Oculus headset to drive it round in several workplaces outdoors of theirs. They prototyped and prototyped, then realized that the digital camera itself, capturing in VR, can be far more possible than a robotic…in order that they ripped its “eyes” out to work on the LucidCam. You possibly can’t slide a robotic into your pocket, you’ll be able to’t take it to a Taylor Swift live performance.
Plus, capturing 360 diploma video in 2D strapped to a robotic brought on points and may trigger you to stroll the factor proper by means of a wall.
Once I requested how he felt after he noticed the primary video with the robotic’s VR eyes hooked up to an precise breadboard, Jin stated:
It was a low-res video, shot and examined with a (Oculus) DK1. We took a video with our good friend’s child and the infant begins crawling in the direction of you. The expertise was immense. At the moment, it was 1 half years in the past, everybody was into Oculus for gaming, principally. We knew the place we needed to take this, after that first video.
I sat by way of the demo and the mother tends to look over at you (the gadget, truly) and it’s not an enormous deal. After which the infant catches a glimpse and the system should have been on the good eye degree, as a result of it felt prefer it was crawling proper at me whereas we made eye contact. I can think about that this demo will get Lucid many followup conferences within the Valley.
Lucid is constructing the Flip digital camera, however for VR. The Flip digital camera was scorching approach earlier than Apple packed its mega digital camera right into a tiny telephone and took over the purpose and shoot photograph and video market. Need to present it to somebody? They obtain the Lucid app, drop their iPhone or Android telephone right into a Cardboard and take a look at the footage. No want to purchase an costly developer headset and even the Samsung Gear VR.
We did a fast stroll round of the TechCrunch workplace in VR, utilizing the LucidCam, and it was obtainable to view inside 10 minutes.
“I needed to construct this for me” Jin informed me.
Lucid’s industrial designer took his inspiration from a tool plenty of use each day, the Apple Mouse.
It’s a stunning gadget because it stands, it shoots in one hundred eighty levels to keep away from the stitching points that 360 diploma video has. Once more, we’re speaking about shopper purposes, taking the digital camera out of your pocket and capturing a second at your child’s soccer recreation. You don’t need to have to make use of a tripod, or flip round in circles whereas your child is enjoying. It’s unnatural and actually doesn’t make a distinction when you see the ultimate product out of Lucid’s know-how. It’s slick and excessive-res. Going with one hundred eighty additionally helps maintain file-measurement down. A few minute out of one in every of their cameras is just 35 megabytes…which is spectacular and could be despatched to individuals in a snap.
Preserving it small was essential, as a result of capturing in VR, with rigs just like the upcoming Lucid package, shouldn’t be solely costly however takes up a ridiculous period of time. Publish processing takes 5 to six hours for some demos and Jin calls that ‘insanely painful.”
The Lucid has every little thing an enormous VR rig wants although, huge Sony sensors that take up all the mild and mics on both aspect to select up stereo sound. What you’re lacking are bells and whistles, although. Bells and whistles, like aperture management, that you simply in all probability don’t need anyhow.
You run round with this factor such as you would your telephone. That’s essential for capturing superior moments.
Need to shoot in 360 and assume the Lucid isn’t for you? Properly, they considered that too. Because the system itself is rounded on the sides, you should purchase three of them and purchase a particular tripod that retains them in a triangle formation:
The Lucid group exists of 12 individuals complete, three of them being founders, 2 hardware individuals and just one industrial designer. Primarily, they’re constructed round software program, optics and 3d graphics.
One of many issues that Lucid says is a bonus for them is their potential to iterate shortly. They’re not part of an enormous mothership of an organization, they will actually change issues 15-20 occasions a day and that’s how the method has been going. Proper now the workforce is enjoying round with WiFi connectivity for the system for livestreaming. Whereas it won’t make it into the primary iteration, which hopes to ship someday early in 2016, it exhibits that Lucid is listening to early suggestions.
Jin likes sending his workforce out to shoot issues like an Elton John live performance, somebody even took on the task of capturing their skydiving journey. “Yep, R&D,” Jin stated.
“I really like my job.” he continued.
One other staff member goes to a Miami Warmth recreation subsequent week. Armed with courtside seats, she’s going to not shoot the entire recreation, however attempt to get these nice moments, like a dunk from Chris Bosh. Moments are the place VR video consumption will take off. A film…a documentary…an extended expertise is just not the place the plenty will come. We don’t understand how lengthy we should always put on headsets or look via these lenses at a time, however it could’t be hours at a time…I’ll inform you that from expertise.
30 seconds of a basketball recreation? On loop? Like I’m truly there? Good.
Mothers and the longer term
I requested Jin if his mother, who lives in Germany, understood what it was he was engaged on. She didn’t till he helped her use the app with Cardboard and despatched her a message from right here within the States.
“If what you’re engaged on makes you are feeling nearer to me, then it’s OK.” she informed Jin.
On the all-essential manufacturing aspect, Jin says that China is a possible location the place it’ll happen. They’re nonetheless making tweaks although, however not too many, as a result of they need to keep across the $299 worth level, which is a candy spot for any sort of level and shoot digital camera, not to mention one which was constructed to shoot digital actuality. Issues like waterproofing are going to attend.
Jin additionally tells me that a greater spherical of funding is on the best way, however he’s not in a rush, telling me “I do know it’s going to take time, however shopper adoption will probably be sluggish.” Establishing the manufacturing goes to be “costly” he additionally contends, which is the place that spherical of funding is available in. Indiegogo isn’t going to be the top-all-be-all for the corporate, which is sweet to listen to. Those that depend on the spiky buzz from campaigns like that are likely to die quick.
One fascinating shopper for this product is manufacturing homes which have costly rigs for VR. They will use the LucidCam to expire and get some check photographs. No want to tug round eight GoPros (or the six-determine futuristic Lytro Immerge), eight Micro SD playing cards, or anything that if one thing glitches, you get nothing. The Lucid is nice for experimentation, too, in that approach. Manufacturers are additionally , questioning how they will shortly shoot VR content material for people who find themselves slowly ramping up into the digital world.
The longer term is brilliant for Lucid, and so long as they maintain having enjoyable, the top product will mirror that.
It’s going to be an uphill battle, particularly attending to the purpose of placing the primary models in shopper’s palms. Know-how is just nearly as good because the variety of people who’ve it at their disposal. If Lucid takes issues sluggish and straightforward, much less on the sluggish aspect, they will construct that Flip cam for VR. However can it efficiently fend off a deathblow by Apple, which Flip didn’t? Early days, however fascinating ones as soon as you narrow by way of the noise.