Lucid VR has raised $2.1 million and it has partnered with Taiwanese manufacturer Wistron to make its LucidCam 180-degree virtual reality camera.
The pocket-sized LucidCam captures 3D VR video, pretty much as your eyes see the world. The company hopes to make its mark as virtual reality becomes a $30 billion industry by 2020, according to tech adviser Digi-Capital. This new camera will compete with the high-end Facebook Surround 360 camera announced yesterday at Facebook’s F8 conference.
The $400 camera can capture video that can be watched instantly on mobile phones using Google Cardboard or any VR headset such as the Samsung Gear VR. The investment came from Wistron, S2 Capital, Lab360, TEEC Angel Fund, 17 Miles Technology, and other angel investors. The funding coupled with the Wistron manufacturing agreement provides the means for Lucid VR to bring its affordable VR camera to mass production.
In the past, it took a lot of money and hours of work to create 3D videos and images. Now, anyone can do it with a touch of a button.
“LucidCam brings people together across the world by capturing incredible immersive experiences in VR, the same way as your eyes see them, and which can be easily shared with friends and family within seconds,” said Han Jin, cofounder and CEO of Lucid VR, in a statement. “With our relationship with Wistron we will be developing a beautifully designed and engineered camera that is going to surpass our original plans. We are very excited to announce that we will be upgrading our backers with a first production version of the LucidCam with double the resolution and frame rate, in addition to extended battery capacity. The viewing experience in VR headsets will be so much smoother with 2K and 60 frames per second.”
Regarding Facebook’s open source camera, Jin said in an email, “LucidCam is a pocket-size device similar to the shape and size of an iPhone 4 which makes it easy to take it anywhere and capture anything. Also the Facebook 360 camera costs $30,000 vs. LucidCam at $399. Our file sizes of less than 80 megabytes per minute are very small making it easier to share with anyone. No post-production processing makes it easy to capture and watch within seconds.”
Lucid VR crowdfunded its first round of production cameras in December 2015. Now Wistron will take over manufacturing and deliver the first units in the second half of 2016. Semi-pros and photo video enthusiasts can capture cinematic 3D experiences. Game developers can easily create lifelike environments and innovators can disrupt industries by building businesses around VR content, the company said.
The camera’s technology was created over the last two years by Jin and his cofounder and company CTO Adam Rowell, who has a doctorate from Stanford University in electrical engineering. LucidCam breaks down expensive Hollywood 3D production camera systems to a small form factor, making it more affordable for the masses and eliminating the long-winded post-production process. It leverages binocular lenses to create true depth as well as peripheral vision and utilizes two microphones — essentially mimicking human eyes and ears. It fits into your pocket like a mobile phone so users can capture immersive images and videos anywhere, anytime.
With a 180-degree field of view, LucidCam allows users to stick to the traditional point-and-shoot approach, simply pressing the shutter and holding the camera steady to capture everything – no panoramic sweeps required. A multi-camera setup with three LucidCams enables 360-degree 3D capture.