A new depth camera scans the real world and maps it in real-time.
Thanks to recent platforms such as Apple’s ARKit and hardware like Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, AR has been on the rise as of late with zero signs of slowing down anytime soon. However, when it comes to delivering truly high quality augmented experiences, the current options available to consumers and even developers are expensive and few. And while it could be sometime until we see a reasonably priced augmented reality headset, there are still some creative workarounds nearing release that could be just what we need to hold us over in the mean time.
One of the more exciting of options is Stereolabs’ ZED Mini depth camera. A specialized short range version of the ZED long-range depth camera, the Mini provides close-up AR by attaching securely to the front of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset and captures the real world in stereoscopic video via the camera’s two “eyes.” The device then maps the captured data in real-time in order to track its position as well as the surrounding 3D space.
The result is a augmented reality experience featuring 720p resolution (2k depending on the fps), 60 fps capabilities, AAA graphics and an over 100-degree field of view. What’s especially interesting is the the inclusion of Stereolabs’ inside-out positional tracking which removes the need for the Vive’s lighthouses or Rift’s base stations, while still providing accurate mapping up to 15 meters away.
The launch of the ZED Mini will also see the release of a brand new update to the ZED SDK, a developer kit already in use by over 30,000 creators. The new update will include the addition of plugins for the Unity and Unreal engines that make the process of adding interactive virtual objects and effects easier as well as the integration of controller functionality for the Vive, Oculus Touch, PS Move and others. The device will ship with various example applications to help get your creative juices going from an interactive planetarium, a virtual re-scalable big-screen TV, and a mini game where you’re tasked with fighting deadly drones with lasers.
The ZED Mini will be available for $449 starting December 18th. You can get your hands on the updated ZED SDK the same day. Preorders are now live at Stereolabs.