Facebook, Adobe, Lytro and 8i are all developing different ways to solve the 6DoF problem.

Virtual reality (VR) is the latest “cool” technology and you can now choose from a plethora of virtual reality headsets and systems to play with. However, it is still in its infancy and the technology is not yet truly immersive.

You may have heard mention of 6DoF, which stands for “six degrees of freedom”. This refers to how much freedom of movement a rigid body has in a three-dimensional (3D) space, so if you were to imagine the X, Y and Z axes, ideally you would need to have the ability to go forward or backward (known as “surge”), up or down (known as “heave”), or left and right (known as “sway”).

6DoF is of especial interest to everyone in the burgeoning VR industry, because at the moment there is still a limit to what you can achieve with monoscopic 360 degree videos – the images still appear flat.

R experiences have the 6DoF problem sorted because everything is computer animated, so the VR headset is able to track the scale of the room to understand exactly where the player is in the room.

If you know exactly where the player is, then you can make calculations so that motions made by the user, such as moving backwards or forwards can be translated into movements within the game.

Light field cameras and holograms

But if you want to do this with a human in a recorded video, such as Björk’s 360 degree music videofor Stonemilker, then at the moment it’s only possible with extremely expensive image capture technology.

The startup Lytro uses cameras that work by capturing the geometry of light to make live action 360-degree scenes possible. However, their light field cameras cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and can only be afforded by high-end Hollywood blockbuster film products.

There’s also New Zealand VR technology firm 8i, which is using creating super realistic 3D hologram videos using computer algorithms and a green screen studio containing 41 cameras, which it calls “volumetric capture”.

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