Out of nowhere, the multinational communications and information company known as Nokia started sending out special invitations to a Los Angeles VIP event – teasing a secret announcement. Barely anything was mentioned in the message other than the date, time, and location of the event; along with a mysterious image of a device showing two lenses.
Speculation quickly spread online (especially on Reddit) about what Nokia might have in store. Many people suggested a smartphone enabled VR headset, or possibly even a self-contained unit. However, looking at Nokia’s track record, and hearing about plans for “immersive imaging,” it is more likely that they will debut a camera solution instead.
Why a Headset Doesn’t Make Sense
At this point in time, it seems like just about everyone is getting into the virtual reality headset game. If Nokia were to get involved, which is a possibility, they would be competing directly with companies like Samsung, HTC, LG, Google, Mattel, Oculus, and several other organizations running in the metaphorical “VR Gold Rush.” The market is already priming for saturation, so jumping in now with a headset doesn’t put them in a strategic place in the industry. It would be more of a catching up move than anything.
Granted, looking at only the smartphone side of VR viewers compared to PC-based units cuts the numbers quite down a bit, but there is still a lot of people vying for that market share. Nokia would need to come out strong with beefy technical specs on upcoming phones to make it worth while.
With that said, there is a chance that the rumored Lumia Cityman and Lumia Talkman will hit a resolution of 2560 x 1440, according to UberGizmo. This would at least put Nokia in the same realm of displays as the prized Samsung Note 4s which are paired with the Gear VR headsets. Still, a camera technology from Nokia is much more exciting.
Transforming Mapping Systems for VR
Looking into a recent acquisition by Nokia point towards a platform that could have/has the potential to be modified into a VR-ready camera; stemming from previous existing technology. Originally called Ovi Maps, a capture system brings bought by Nokia combines mapping and location businesses together under one brand.
Now, the company reigns under the name HERE and captures location content such as road networks, buildings, parks and traffic patterns through the use of a camera arrays and LIDAR. Interestingly enough, the subsection of Nokia is already experimenting with virtual reality, which can be seen in the overview video below; in addition to a blog post as well.
In the blog post linked to above, the HERE team describe a research demo with a lot of potential. It is an immersive city exploration application that glimpses into what Nokia may be developing for the future.
The state-of-the-art reality capture technology combines high-res panorama photography with LiDAR remote sensing laser technology and allows HERE to create an unrivalled stereo effect – so much so that it feels like you could reach out and touch the scene. – (quote pulled from HERE’s blog)
Adding more speculation to the wildfire, the invitations for the special VIP event have the words “NOWHERE” sprawled across the image with the lenses. So it isn’t much of a stretch to think that this upcoming announcement could be involved with the HERE brand.
Carl Zeiss Lenses
Nokia has a long standing relationship with Carl Zeiss. They have been integrated into their smartphones for years, including the Lumia 800c, 920, and about a dozen others. We suspect that if a camera hardware solution was announced, it could have the Carl Zeiss lenses integrated into it.
Nokia’s early VR aspirations were revealed by a LinkedIn job posting at the beginning of 2015. The description mentioned that company was looking for a software engineer to work on Presence Capture program in Nokia Technologies with “a video and audio solution to transmit 3D presence in Virtual Reality.” This opens up the door for some kind of streaming solution if the company were to go for it.
A couple of companies have worked with Nokia in the past you have camera capture technology as apart of their portfolio. One of those include a Southern California consulting firm named Start Design Studios. They partnered up with another organization called IC REALTECH to design a 720-degree immersive video camera that was introduced at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.
The dual-lens camera captures an unprecedented 720-degree immersive view; 360-degrees horizontally and 360-degrees vertically. Along with its proprietary app, the camera delivers a 3D-like monitoring experience unlike anything ever achieved before in video monitoring. Perhaps Start Design Studios is involved on this rumored camera technology of Nokia’s as well.
Given the information stated above, it sounds like Nokia will most likely unveil either a VR headset on the 28th or will show something related to camera capture technology. What the specifics of that device is is still unclear, but our money is on a camera system. Surely we will know soon enough; but in the meantime, let these juicy bits of information soak in so that you can start to speculate what they might announce. If you have a good guess what it might be, let us know in the comments section below.
Note from the Editor: This post is a part of our “rumors” series. These pieces are educated speculation, not fact and should be read as such. These statements should not be considered official, yet are based on factual evidence.