Canon introduces social VR platform Kokomo that uses its cameras
At CES 2023, Canon stepped away from its hardware mold and chose a new direction. Virtual Reality.
Canon showcased its first application for a VR platform, called Kokomo, which enables face-to-face communication in a virtual space, complete with live-action video with handy equipment, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Basically, it brings real-time 3D video calling to 'life'.
"This is representing a very exciting new innovation for Canon – but also a very new business direction for Canon, as well," Jon Lorentz, one of the co-creators of the Kokomo solution, told TechCrunch.
"As you know, traditionally, Canon is very much tied to our hardware products. When we announced AMLOS at CES last year, it was about innovating work from home. Our task [with Kokomo] is to innovate life at home, and that is where this project came from. When we started, we were in the thick of COVID, and there were not a lot of ways for people to get connected. The underlying premise for what we created was to be a solution to that. Kokomo is a way to enable people to be there when they couldn’t," he said.
Users need a compatible VR headset and smartphone
Kokomo does not require sophisticated and complex equipment. All you need is a commercially available compatible VR headset and a compatible smartphone. Users can register on the smartphone application and make an "ImmersiveCall" video call with a caller, who will also have a compatible VR headset and registers for the Kokomo application.
Users will "communicate with each other in a remote location with the same ease of operation as familiar existing calling applications, with the realistic sensation of being face-to-face in a life-size setting while viewing each other’s image," according to a release.
"When using a VR headset that covers the user’s field of vision, a highly immersive visual experience unobstructed by screens or frames can be achieved, and by using a compatible smartphone to capture full-body images, users can communicate with gestures and other forms of communication," the company said. Additionally, the 'Media Player", a function for sharing photos and videos in a virtual space, allows users to communicate while viewing content together on the call.
Kokomo leverages multiple virtual environments
So how does this work? Users get to don a VR headset and point a smartphone at themselves. The Kokomo software scans the user's face using the motion sensors in the headset and camera and creates a photo-realistic 3D avatar of both callers. You become virtually present with the caller. As per the release, the Kokomo application truly embodies the elements of a "real together experience" and allows friends and family to experience being together, regardless of their location.
The video call can be even more personalized, with Kokomo leveraging environments like a surf shop and mountain tea house.
Kokomo will have additional features, like immersive films. The Kokomo headset will debut officially within the next month, Canon announced.
Kokomo is currently being demonstrated at CES using the Canon RF5.2mm f/2.8L Dual Fisheye lens. Along with expanded compatibility with Canon cameras, the company plans to add new destinations, functionalities, and features to the Kokomo app.
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