At its developer conference this morning, Samsung announced “Project Beyond,” a camera built to capture 3D footage for use with Samsung’s Gear VR headset.
The device has 16 individual high-definition cameras arranged as a disc. Together, they capture a gigapixel — or 25 gigabits of data — every second. On stage, Samsung showed how VR lets people live-stream footage from cameras located anywhere with a decent wireless connection, letting a Gear VR wearer look around at a beach.
The most exciting prospect for such capture isn’t just one person seeing a beach that their friend is visiting. It’s letting thousands or millions of people share in big, historic moments, sporting events, or concerts at the same time. The Project Beyond camera moves toward that future, letting multiple users look around at the scene captured by the camera without interrupting others’ experiences.
Samsung didn’t give a solid release date or price. In the same presentation, they mentioned that there will be new, improved Gear VR headsets for future Galaxy smartphones, so it will likely come once we see a flagship or two actually launch with a headset sometime next year.
Update: I got to try out a demo after Samsung’s keynote with the Gear VR headset and several Project Beyond cameras located in a few different locations. While the Galaxy Note 4 display powering the headset has a high resolution for a smartphone, there was still a noticeable “screen door” effect (you can see the pixels when they’re really close to your face). This detracted from the beach scene I saw, though the view inside a Samsung office with people walking around was really impressive. There’s very little lag and an incredible sense of space despite the fact that you can’t move around, a good sign for the sporting/musical event use cases I mentioned above.