‘ZED’ Clip-On SLAM Camera Brings Positional Tracking To Gear VR

by Joe Durbin • June 22nd, 2016

A new clip-on camera promises position tracking for the Gear VR. A lot of companies are trying to solve this problem, including Google and Facebook, so claims from startups seeking to offer mobile VR users the freedom of wireless combined with the immersion of a walk around experience are not new. We’ve yet to test ZED, but it’s stereo camera approach to mapping areas both indoors an out as a clip-on accessory is an interesting approach.

 

Stereolabs is launching the ZED, a camera that claims to be able to bring position tracking to the Samsung Gear VR. The Gear VR currently tracks head movement but can’t recognize leaning or any more active movement, like walking around. Since the Gear is a wireless VR device it does not need to be physically connected to a beefy computer in order to run. Adding positional tracking to an “untethered” device such as this would pave the way for some truly engaging VR experiences.

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According to a Stereolabs:

“The camera’s software uses a technique called stereo SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) to map the three-dimensional world in front of it in real time and understand how the user moves in space.”

The ZED itself uses “two RGB cameras” to “emulate human depth perception.” The information from these cameras is then fed into an external GPU where Stereolabs’ custom software then calculates the data and creates a real-time depth map from the disparity between the two camera’s images. Stereolabs calls this technique “stereovision,” and claims that it even works outdoors – a location that has previously posed problems for infrared-based sensors such as the Microsoft Kinect.

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The ZED camera is already being used to provide 3D vision to robots, drones, and self driving cars. It is available today at stereolabs.com for $449.

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