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Immersive 3D takes over entire room

26 Jan 2015  | Julien Happich

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"With Catopsys' solution, you can share the 3D immersion with others, it is a more natural feeling."

Before the launch of the Immersis Kickstarter campaign mostly aimed at gamers, Catopsys was increasing its business by developing fully immersive stereovision solutions for entertainment companies or for industrial CAD environments (including user tracking goggles to constantly update the projection's distortions based on the viewer's position. But the solution required a lengthy calibration and positioning process, done by dedicated field engineers.

So what made Catopsys go after the consumer market now?

"It is a combination of factors," admitted Duhautbout, "lately we've seen more and more panoramic formats appear, Google certainly initiated the trend with Street Views, then the Photosphere.

But it is really the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook beginning of 2014 that sent a clear message. The market understood that virtual reality is panoramic, not a flat perspective. From there, we have seen more and more panoramic cameras on the market, such as Giroptic's 360Cam, so we are betting on consumers to develop more panoramic content, and they will want an adequate projector to view this content."

Computational anamorphosis in action

Initially, Immersis will still require the user to perform some calibration, by providing a 3D model of the projection space. Although this can be done through Immersis' configuration tool by describing the dimensions of the room or by importing a 3D model (.obj, .fbx, collada or other standard formats created by software such as Maya, 3DS Max, Blender or Sketchup), this explains why the projector is mostly addressed at the rather geeky gamers' community accustomed to tweak their hardware and software to optimise their gaming experience.

Through a dedicated driver, Immersis also relies on the gamers' powerful GPUs to perform the anamorphosis computations.

But on the company's roadmap is automated 3D acquisition of the projection space (through structured lighting or other 3D scanning techniques) and automated calibration.

To make the projector more self-reliant, and because the anamorphosises are very compute-intensive, it would make sense to have a dedicated ASIC. This would also be one way to expand the company's business beyond its own proprietary projector solutions.

"We are open to any cooperation with suitable industrial partners for the manufacture of real-time anamorphosis chips," admitted Duhautbout, mentioning Nvidia as a serious contender.

Another way to serve a larger market may be through licensing the anamorphosis software to video projector makers, since the hardware at this stage is not the most difficult part.

As for today's $2,500 price tag, Duhautbout finds it attractive compared to today's alternatives that would require a dome or a dedicated projection room setup by professionals. He also justifies the premium by the fact that the projector hardware is not only highly integrated, but offers a realistic 3D immersion that no other video projector on the market would offer.

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