Unveiled at MWC 2016, Nokia Ozo was quite a quirky item. Nobody knew what to think of the alien-looking design and how to play with it. Now, the founders started to talk more about its capabilites, including the price – let me tell you, it’s not small at all!
It turns out OZO is a professional VR camera, capable of recording 360-degree video and audio in full 3D. It’s the size of a cantaloupe and comes with 8 lenses that, combined, capture spherical footage. There are also 8 microphones that make sure it records any sound, from any direction. It can even be mounted on a drone and record aerial video.
If you’re afraid it won’t rise to your expectations in regards to video quality, fret not; Nokia partnered with Deluxe to give “high quality post-production services for OZO VR content, including editorial, stitching, and color.”
Lens distortion correction, seamless stitching and electronic image stabilization (EIS) are the main issues companies deal with when developing such products. Delivering high quality video in an embedded system is in most of the cases quite challenging, especially when power consumption is a vital factor. Qualcomm is already promoting the notion of heterogeneous computing where you have dedicated hardware for specific tasks.
Considering the growing number of specific tasks in mobile imaging tasks that can’t be addressed with maximum efficiency by generic processors (CPU, GPU or DSP) some major players in the market already offer dedicated solutions. FotoNation, for example, has developed a dedicated engine that corrects lens distortion and it stabilizes the image, in a single step. This engine is part of a dedicated processor that accelerates specific imaging algorithms – Image Processing Unit (IPU).
Returning to Nokia’s OZO, one problem remains – who can they cater to? VR headsets are still to be unveiled and the technology is still at the beginning, not to mention the market for it.
Nokia knows that, since the VR camera’s starting price is $60,000! Not at all budget-friendly I’m afraid, but the brand is focused on targeting professionals that have the means and motivation to use OZO on a daily basis. For simple enthusiasts, it will find a more accessible solution in the near future.