The camera manufacturer Canon relies on software at CES • Zoo House News
Depending on whether you spend most of your time in hospitals, offices, or in the great outdoors, when you think of Canon, you probably think of medical scanning devices, high-end printers, or cameras. At this year’s CES, the 85-year-old company is taking a new direction, with an interesting focus on software applications.
At the show, the imaging giant showed a direction it had hinted at before, but this time far less on its own hardware and more on the software the company has been developing, partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic throw a Shadows on people’s ability to connect. In a chorus of “meaningful communication” and “powerful collaboration,” the Japanese imaging giant appears to be plotting a new course for the future.
“Canon is creating breakthrough solutions that help people connect in more ways than we ever imagined, redefining how they work and live at a time when many are embracing hybrid lifestyles” , said Kazuto Ogawa, President and CEO of Canon USA, Inc, in a press conference at CES 2023. “Canon’s ultimate role is to bring people closer together by opening up endless possibilities for developers. Under our motto “Borderless is more” we will show the attendees of CES 2023 what we create as a company focused on innovation and a world without borders.”
Among other things, Canon showed off a somewhat gimmicky immersive experience tied to M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming thriller Knock at the Cabin. The very Shyamalanesque movie trailer gives you a taste of the atmosphere. At the heart of things, however, Canon unlocks a fundamental desire of humanity; to feel connected to each other. The company is keen to show how its solutions can “remove the limitations humanity faces to create more meaningful communications” through four technologies it is showcasing at the show this year.
3D call: Kokomo
The flagship solution Canon is showing off is Kokomo, which the company describes as the first immersive VR software package of its kind. It is designed to combine VR with an immersive calling experience. The solution is quite elegant: the Kokomo software allows users to see and hear themselves with a VR headset and a smartphone in a photorealistic environment in real time with their live appearance and facial expressions.
In fact, the software package scans your face to learn what you look like and then turns you into a photorealistic avatar. The person you are on the phone with can see you – without a VR headset – showing your appearance and facial expressions. The effect is to experience a 3D video call. At the show, Canon will be demonstrating the technology by letting visitors engage in a 1×1 conversation with the characters from Knock at the Cabin.
Real-time 3D video: free viewing angles
Aimed at the sports market, Free Viewpoint is a solution that combines more than 100 high-end cameras with a cloud-based solution that allows moving a virtual camera to any location. The software takes all the video feeds and creates a point cloud-based 3D model when allowing a virtual cameraman to create a range of angles that would otherwise have been impossible: drone-like replay footage, such as diving into the action or detailed “right in the middle.” -Things” footage that allows viewers to see games from the virtual perspective of one of the players.
In the USA, the system has already been installed in two NBA arenas (including the home stadium of the Cavaliers and the Nets). The video can be broadcast live or compiled into replay clips. Canon also notes that the system will allow for “virtual advertising and other monetization opportunities,” so I guess we have that to look forward to as well.
Coming back to the Knock at the Cabin topic, at CES Canon showed a virtual action scene captured with the Free Viewpoint video system and captured at Canon Volumetric Video Studio in Kawasaki, Japan. The effect of seeing an action scene “through the eyes” of different characters was a wonderfully immersive experience.
Augmented Reality Technology: MREAL
Canon also showed off some earlier technologies that aren’t quite ready for prime time, including MREAL. This is a technology that helps integrate simulation-like immersive worlds, merging the real and virtual worlds. Use cases can include pre-visualization for movies, training scenarios, and mixed reality interactive entertainment. The company tells Zoo House News that the technology is in the market research phase.
The company is trying to figure out what to develop further and how to market the product. In other words, who would use it, what would they use it for, and how much would they be willing to pay for it.
Remote Presence: AMLOS
Activate My Line of Sight (AMLOS) is what Canon calls its solution for hybrid meeting environments in which some participants are present in person while others are not on site. If you’ve ever attended a meeting in such a configuration, you’ll often find that joining remotely is a deeply frustrating experience as the face-to-face meeting participants interact with each other and the remote participants are somewhere on one screen.
Canon hopes AMLOS can help solve this problem. It is a suite of software and camera products aimed at improving engagement. It adds pan, tilt and zoom capabilities to remote camera systems and gives remote users the ability to customize their viewing and participation experience. So far the solution isn’t quite intuitive enough to overcome the barrier of not being in the room, but it’s certainly better than being a disembodied wall of heads on a screen.