Canon’s New ‘Virtual Camera’ Tech is Something Straight Out of Sci-Fi

Intel isn’t the only one working on sci-fi-style virtual camera systems for things like sporting events. Canon just announced that it’s developing a new “Free Viewpoint” virtual camera system that will let you virtually move around inside a recorded event.

When deployed at a sports stadium or arena, the technology would allow a “virtual camera” to move around and view the action from pretty much any vantage point in the 3D space. You could go to ground level to watch the action as if you were one of the players, or you could float up above them to check out the birds-eye view.

The system would require a number of high-resolution cameras mounted in various places around the stadium. Each camera is connected to a network and controlled by software. Afterward, the video viewpoints are fed into an image processing engine that turns it into high-resolution 3D spatial data.

“Users can freely move a virtual camera around the 3-D space, resulting in video that can be viewed from various different angles and viewpoints,” Canon says. The system lets you “experience the simulated physical sensation of being among players on the field during a game.

“Along with providing a new way to enjoy sporting events, Canon plans to explore such potential applications for this system as training teams and athletes.”

This virtual on-field view would be generated by cameras placed around the stadium.

Canon has basically figured out how to record an event and turn the action into the equivalent of a video game replay that you can move the camera around in. This type of thing would be even more immersive if it were to be viewed through a virtual reality headset, which is likely what Canon is exploring as well.

Imagine watching a replay of a basketball, football, or soccer game while “running around” with the players. That may soon be possible.