As VR and AR mature, theyâll borrow more of each otherâs expertise; from the one, more immersive environments; from the other, intelligent means of walking the line between virtual and real. One example of such a crossover is the D3-U, a physical camera made for taking pictures in VR.
It was created by design agency dotdotdash in collaboration with Vive, but donât expect a retail release any time soon. This is more of a proof of concept and demonstration of the recently announced Vive Tracker than an actual product.
The issue, as much as there can be said to be one, is that there isnât a very natural way to capture images in VR. You can hit print screen on the computer running the simulation, of course, but do you really want to slightly tilt your head, keeping an eye on the edges of your field of view, in order to get the framing right? No.
Instead, the D3-U utilizes the Tracker, which can be attached to objects to track them (naturally) in-game, to turn a real-world device into a virtual one. The Trackerâs motion is captured just like the headsetâs, using embedded IR beacons, and is intended to make accessory creation easy.
âItâs simply a matter of calibrating the puck to the model of the 3D camera and then making sure the size matches up perfectly in space,â explained developer Zach Krausnick. That way you have the experience of actually holding a camera and having it mimic its real-world movements in every way.
In the game, the D3-U displays the mode itâs in, a preview of the shot youâre framing and has a shutter release button and joystick for switching between exposure modes. In the demo, the user must use the camera to take pictures of an alien creature, checking various wavelengths and moving around to get the best angles. Thereâs even a printer nearby spitting out paper copies of the shots you take.
Future versions could add things like shutter speed settings and so on, so virtual photographers can fuss over exposure settings just like the real ones. Who wants to bet there will eventually be physically accurate aperture blade simulation?
Now, to be clear, I donât think this is a must-have accessory or anything. And at any rate, itâs a one-off prototype for now, created by design studio dotdotdash, so you couldnât get one if you tried. But itâs a cool demonstration of the idea that the virtual world can be materially improved by intelligently crossing it with the physical one.