WebEye VR is a Consumer Virtual Reality Webcam

Several social media web sites, notably including Facebook and YouTube, are in the early stages of offering capabilities for viewing and sharing immersive video formats such as stereoscopic 3D. The current reality is, however, that most users cannot fully use these capabilities because they do not have hardware that can record in this format.

To address this issue, VRFavs (Ljubljana, Slovenia) is developing what the company describes as a first of its kind consumer product, the so-called WebEye VR. The WebEye VR webcam will “allow users to broadcast live, stereoscopic video with proper depth perception and a wide field of view right from their computer.”

The webcam features dual 1920×1080 video sensors that are separated by about the typical adult interpupillary distance. The camera is capable of recording 3D at 30 FPS and has a 160° viewing angle.


The company acknowledges that a 160º field of view is a bit little less than typically provided in VR systems. They go on to explain the factors that prevented achieving a larger viewing angle. Foremost is the fact that 180º fisheye lenses have very large distortion at the edges of the field of view. Related to this is the fact that, when recording two video streams, it was found not possible to remove such distortions in real time without introducing latency. As a result, the company chose to use the lowest distortion ultra-wide angle lenses available and these have a 160º field of view.

The camera does not require any proprietary drivers. It is fully UVC-compatible meaning that it uses the built in drivers from Operating Systems such as Windows, Linux or Mac OS X.

Users can view the video feed recorded from the WebEye VR camera without special settings on Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift HMDs. The company also plans to support Samsung’s Gear VR, the HTC Vive and the PlayStation VR later this year.

It should be noted that the WebEye VR can also double as a traditional 2D webcam. The camera comes with small tripod that is easy to attach/detach, allowing for a wide range of camera placement.

A video discussing the WebEye VR camera can be found at the end of this article.

VRFavs is working on developing the capability for server recording of videos captured by users. It is based on the company’s so-called WebRTC streaming platform (which is currently in closed beta). This platform also allows users to connect one-on-one with another person via their web browser or to simultaneously broadcast to multiple people. Users need Firefox Nightly (development build) for Oculus Rift or Google Chrome Mobile for Cardboard.

The company has stated that 100 first generation camera developer kits will be available in April and sell for $250. It should be noted that these first generation kits will be quite different from the ultimate consumer product. This first generation camera uses two parallel video streams that produce 8 Mbit/s and require two USB 2.0 connections. These cameras have a 1.67″ IPD spacing.

As might be imagined, during development of the WebEye VR, the company’s engineers faced several technical difficulties. Synchronizing the streaming process was one. Regarding this issue, the company has said that new FPGA electronics and software are under development.

Planning on a successful conclusion to this development project, the company has said that the second generation camera, and the consumer product that will follow, will include an updated stream synchronization technology. At that point, the two streams will be merged together cutting the bandwidth requirements in half, to 4 Mbit/s and only one USB connection will be required. 100 units of the second generation developer kit are planned to sell for $350 and scheduled to ship in August. This version will have lenses 2.56″ apart (which is the average adult IPD).

The fully redesigned consumer version of the camera is planned to ship to customers by the end of the year at a price of $300.

The Kickstarter fundraising campaign sponsored by the company and scheduled to conclude on April 1 does not, at the time of writing this article, appear to be on track for success (see here), the company’s commercialization plans may have to be revised. -Arthur Berman