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Lytro Immerge: The ludicrously expensive VR rig of the future

Virtual reality is great on paper, but it’s no good having an expensive headset if there’s no content.

Enter Lytro, the Mountain View start-up that has just unveiled a professional VR rig that’s both incredibly cool and exorbitantly expensive.

It’s called the Lytro Immerge, a rig that contains several rings of cameras that captures an entire sphere – or just about – of footage.

The rig, which shoots using “multiple hundreds” of cameras and sensors, comes with its own portable server to process and store the footage.

lytro

It works through Light Field imaging, which is a little complicated. Fortunately, Colvin Pitts, senior architect at Lytro, explains:

“Imagine you have this spherical surface right, and every ray of light coming from the outside world is captured and recorded. And what we’re recording is two pieces of information: first, where that ray of light hits the surface, and second, the direction that light is travelling.”

Pitts continues: “If you can capture everything intersecting the surface, you’ve actually captured all the light from the outside world that would’ve passed through that volume. So you really have every ray of light within the whole volume.”

But what does that mean? In short, it means you can recreate a model of the scene that’s being viewed.

Not only that, but how far objects are away from the camera, which means you can move around in the space using a VR headset.

This depth-of-field also means that you can merge computer-generated imagery into the scene, blending reality and CGI – great for interactive gaming.

To enable this entire process, Lytro has also developed an editing suite and a player, so you won’t need to use third-party kit to get your work done.

The player, Lytro also reveals, is compatible with every existing VR headset, and many future devices to come.

But how much will this all cost? Unfortunately, as this is a professional rig, the pricing is set at “multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars” for its Q1 2016 release.

We’ll take three…

Tell us what you think of the Lytro Immerge in the comments.

Check out our ‘Samsung Gear VR – Is this the future?’ video below:

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