Photographic virtual reality is going to get a lot more realistic. Stereoscopic 360 is just the beginning. Soon it will be normal to display 3D VR photos and videos in 6 degrees-of-freedom, that is, with real parallax shifts in response to head motion, like immersive versions of the popular Facebook 3D images. This will not require heroic new cameras or headsets, just better software.
Current professional video arrays capture enough data to create respectable 6-dof images, and many current VR headsets -- including mobile ones -- are capable of displaying them. It is true that quality improves with array size. Arrays of up to 60 cameras may become common for cinema quality VR. Headset computing power and communication bandwidth will increase to match.
The really exciting prospect is 9-dof. Several next-generation headsets will have eye tracking. The display software will be able to tell what we are actually looking at, and this will enable a whole new level of visual realism, viewing comfort and easy interaction. Focus and convergence will change according to the depth of our visual target, just as they do in real life. And if that target is a cursor or hot spot, we will literally be able to move it with our eyes. Eye tracking will not increase processing cost, because 9-dof rendering is essentially the same as 6-dof.
These developments will depend on solving several technical challenges. Perhaps the most critical is stable and accurate depth mapping. There has been much recent progress in extracting 3D structure from multiple views, and although there is still room for improvement, I confidently expect that by this time next year there will be reliable automatic processing pipelines for 6-dof VR images.
I hope to be able to show illustrative examples in stereoscopic 3D.
Date and time for this talk at IVRPA Belfast 2019 is TBD.
Thomas Sharpless tksharpless.net
Biochemist/Engineer/Panographer in Philadelphia, PA. Like to write software, hack with cameras, walk dogs. Contributor to Hugin, developer of Panini and PT3D s/w. IVRPA member since 2011; past director. Ambition: to create an automatic 6-dof 3D stitching system.