We're one step closer to navigable 3D pictures of real places

If you've experienced a VR representation of a real place, chances are that you've just been looking around a static, 360-degree panorama of a room. OTOY believes that the days of the fixed-camera 3D picture are now done thanks to light-field technology, the same image refocusing tech you'll find in a Lytro. In short, a pair of DSLRs on a prototype rig spin around to capture pictures of a space with light field lenses. When that data is pulled into a computer, it creates a virtual version of that picture with unprecedented fidelity. The best thing, however, is that the company believes that users can then move about the image as they see fit.

"The light field data of the room was rendered instantaneously in VR, mirroring the reality and grit of the natural world, while allowing a user in that world to look in any direction and move around in the space as if they were actually there."

Or, at least, that's the idea. If you check out the video that the company has produced, you'll see the user tilting their head but no free roaming around the space. Still, being able to retain a true image while tilting the head is a big achievement, and the image clearly has plenty more depth and clarity than a standard panorama. It's also the first of several companies who are experimenting with light-field VR, including NextVR, which uses six Red Dragon cameras to create a similar effect.