LucidCam: World's First True Virtual Reality Camera

LucidCam Case Study

 

Background

In 2014, a team of highly passionate engineers from Berkeley and Stanford Universities set out to bring Virtual Reality (VR) to the masses. Lucid VR became the first company to design and develop the world’s first 3D and 180° stereoscopic consumer camera that empowers anyone to easily capture experiences with true depth and peripheral sight. The LucidCam is a small, portable device that creates an immersive reality easily shared with everyone, offering infinite applications. VR is the future, and with the LucidCam, the future is here.
 
The camera’s unique technology was created over the last two years by Han Jin, CEO of Lucid VR, and his co-founder and company CTO Adam Rowell, a Stanford Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering who specialized in computer vision and image processing.
 

Goals

The Lucid VR team wanted to find a way to cost-effectively leverage 3D imaging to capture true immersive VR images and videos. Creating an easy-to-use stereoscopic 3D 180° camera for the consumer market would allow users to experience the world the way the human eyes see it. And by achieving this, the team would eliminate what has until now, taken hours and thousands of dollars in large equipment and software to do. For the first time, anyone could easily capture amazing 3D spherical videos and images with the simple touch of a button. Semi-pros and photo video enthusiasts could capture amazing cinematic 3D experiences. Game developers would easily create lifelike environments and innovators could disrupt industries by building businesses around VR content. 
 

Challenges

Lucid VR encountered many obstacles when designing the advanced 3D virtual reality camera. When developing the first prototype in 2014, the team quickly realized they needed specialized lenses to capture a superior 3D image.
 
Lucid VR designers also wanted to include indication features with lighting (LEDs) to aid with user interaction. To create a truly simple user interface, one button needed to control everything. A well-designed switch was required to achieve this, but Lucid VR designers didn’t know exactly what functionality would work best for their design. They wanted one central control for image capture, video capture, and setting manipulation – all in a pocket sized mobile device.
 
The camera also needed to be designed with the end application in mind. Portable electronics are often considered a harsh environment due to:
  • frequent exposure to shock and vibration from dropping  
  • dirty power when charging
  • exposure to dust/dirt, liquids and more
The team sought input on the PCB layout, internal part selection, and exterior design to ensure the camera was not only optimized for performance and environmental conditions, but that is was also built with manufacturability and supply chain/procurement in mind.
 
After reviewing the initial models and making slight modifications and enhancements to the design, Lucid VR needed to complete the second round of models within a very tight deadline – within 10 days. Tooling for short run production was also on a tight deadline.
 

Solution

Model Solution’s experienced design and manufacturing teams took the original Lucid VR design and helped strengthen and improve the internal and external construction. Model Solution specified LEDs, switches, materials, finishes and more to keep costs down and still meet the application’s demanding requirements.
 
Model Solution built three initial mock-ups and initial full appearance models in less than 12 days. These models featured functional LEDs and switches, allowing Lucid VR engineers to see and feel how these design aspects would operate and function in the final design. The models also simplified and accelerated the overall design process by allowing Lucid VR to finalize the selection of colors and finishes that not only delivered a sleek professional look, but also offered ruggedness and reliability required in the field.
 
Model Solution helped create two binocular lenses to create true depth and peripheral vision. A custom tactile switch tuned to a specific touch and feel offers simple point-and-shoot (controlling the shutter) and setting selection from camera to video.
Model Solution also helped ensure that all internal parts assembled together correctly.
 

Results

The point-and-shoot LucidCam reduces expensive Hollywood 3D production camera systems to a small form factor, not only making it more affordable but also eliminating the long-winded postproduction process.
 
The 3D 180-degree VR camera empowers immersive content creation with true depth.  The LucidCam captures the world exactly as the user sees and hears it. The 180-degree wide-angle lenses, active view, and spatial audio enhances the experience of any content being captured or viewed.
 
The technology consists of smart hardware which:
  • optimizes 3D spherical camera technology
  • resulted in the most compact size and advanced software in a device
  • achieved the most seamless plug-n-play experience for the end user
  • helped reduce file size and the struggle of post production time to a minimum.
The technology enables anyone to watch videos on mobile devices with iOS or Android apps, on Google Cardboard or directly through YouTube without limiting you to a VR headset. Viewing these images and videos through a Virtual Reality headset, like the Oculus Rift or your mobile phone paired with a Google Cardboard allow you to relive any experience as if you were there.
 
The ecamera fits into your pocket like a mobile phone so users can capture immersive images and videos anywhere, anytime. The 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.
 

Photos

All
3D Printing
About Model Solution
Color Systems and Textures
Equipment
Machining
Manufacturing
Materials
Mock-up
Presentations
Tooling
LucidCam: World's First True Virtual Reality Camera
LucidCam Model Bottom View
LucidCam Model Top View
LucidCam Model Back View
LucidCam Model Side View 2
LucidCam Model Top View 2