Google’s Light Field Technology just transformed Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality Experience Today
Everyone is aware what a Virtual Reality (VR) experience. It is an experience that transports a person to an entirely new environment while actually being in one place. One can experience the VR-generated environment as if they were actually present there. Google released a bunch of pictures with their free app called Welcome to Light Field recently. They included that of a NASA space shuttle, an unconventionally designed mosaic-covered LA home, a chapel with its ornate stained-glass windows. This was a move to give an insight into the company’s vision of what the future actually holds for Virtual Reality. This is an example of a truly immersive Virtual Reality experience.
How Google’s Light Field Technology Works
Google used many small, interlinked cameras to capture a number of images. These images seem as if someone viewed them from a beach-ball sized sphere. The Light Field technology refers to recording and re-creating light fields. This is basically the light that travels in various directions in a specific volume of space. The term Light Fields basically refers to a set of complex algorithms that can take, join and render VR animations or even 360-degree videos in such a way so as to create a real sense in the environment that VR creates. This was how Google got those images released with Welcome to Lights Fields.
Google’s app will actually enable a user to move their head and explore the VR-created environment around them. This will be a first-time experience for many VR-headset users. One cannot even begin to imagine the possibilities that this experiment opens up. This app is just using stills as of today. Someday this technology will be useful in exploring of historical sites. This is chance of a lifetime of experiencing a place and exploring it first hand, well almost! It is so powerful, almost like teleporting.
Virtual Reality is still an upcoming technology. A majority of people are not aware of this technology due to various reasons which include bulky VR-headsets which are unattractive and also expensive. To add to that even the VR experience does not always have a real look and feel. Light fields technology can tackle this problem. Most cameras are unable to capture depth. Google’s light field camera eliminates this limitation. If a person shifts their head things replicate real life i.e. things that are closer tend to move away. This is motion parallax, and Google may have been the first to showcase it in an app that is universally available.
As opposed to building a spherical camera like what Facebook among others has done, Google connected the cameras in such a way so as to form a vertical arc. A tripod helped mount this apparatus along with a motor and batteries. This enabled this gizmo-apparatus to rotate slowly and take a load of images till the rotation completed. Even though typically it took 30 seconds to complete one rotation, it is possible to further reduce the speed for capturing low-light pictures. The rotating motion does not affect the end results.
This camera and the app by Google, “Welcome to Light Fields” are both still in their primitive stages. There is a limit to the area captured at a time.This causes the scene to blacken if one moves a little further on one side. Also, the presence of people in the images is a little creepy. The effect they have on the user as of now is uncanny though they will find a resolution to it soon enough.
Despite these problems, it is worth trying at least for Google’s amazing camera work. A museum can constitute as one of the ideal places for this. This technology will be useful for educational purposes.This does give you a real-life experience of a world much unlike the one you can see in the VR headsets that are available today.