NCTech's VRC (Virtual Reality Camera) was designed to be a low-cost consumer camera that provides 3D virtualisation of interior places, capturing 360-degree images and depth, allowing viewers to explore in full immersive virtual reality.
NCTech, who develop B2B hardware and software, approached i4pd in September 2018 to help with development of its first virtual reality camera built for consumers. Traditionally, the VR devices it created were for commercial use with Google, however, its aim was to make this technology accessible to a whole new market.
The Edinburgh-based tech imaging manufacturer picked our industrial design team as previous consultants had not been responsive enough to its needs. From first picking up the brief, the project was intended for launch in six months so the industrial design team were required a to make quick delivery to the client.
NCTech saw an opportunity to open up reality capture for new markets and industries. The VRc was to be designed for applications in travel, training, education, real estate but also the home use for creating game content. In other words, the VRc was primed for use in markets that make the most use for virtual reality content. It was to be built with VR in mind as a force driving lower costs for 3D capture tech, and help to bring about the democratisation of fully immersive imaging technology.
“When developing future products NCTech will have i4pd at the forefront of our minds as it was a highly professional experience from the beginning to end of our collaborative development.”
Neil Tocher, CEO, NCTech Imaging.
Here are the challenges we met:
• The client did not want complex tooling or a product that is would require a complex assembly, keeping their capex as low as possible..
• i4pd were working in parallel to the camera development to create a 360 degree rotator for tripods that would pull comms and power from the camera.
• As the project progressed it we discovered that heat management was going to be an issue. Two heatsinks were included – the sensor heatsink was force air-cooled using a fan.
A fundamental requirement from the client was to create a product with such a discreet design that it could blend seamlessly into the home. The product's architecture was carefully considered as the unit would be housing four Intel 'RealSense' sensors, as well as cameras to capture the HDR imagery that NCTech has made its name on. It was also to be considered user-friendly for adults and children alike, so an extremely intuitive design had to be conceived. We helped the company achieve this by creating a soft, simple and sculptural form that leads the user to the power and capture buttons. Following the successful completion of the project, NCTech continues to capture the world at scale, pioneering indoor and outdoor capture for the Metaverse, Digital Twins and mapping applications.
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