成立于今年年初,神乎科技推出一款3D、4K、便携、机内拼接、直播的VR相机Hubblo。在这个满大街是2D全景相机的时间点上,Hubblo大有看头。

怀着好奇心,零镜网决定采访神乎科技CEO?Eric Tsang。

采访前,神乎科技的联合创始人李云总结了Eric的性格:一个来自硅谷的工程师。果然,在与之对话的过程中,记者能明显感受到一种无形的冲突。

在过往的一些采访中,讨论的是技术成熟、市场需求、对手竞争、渠道、出货量以及生死存亡。但Eric的想法是,“我们要做2~3年之后的产品,不做现在已经有的东西”。

前者拼的是当下市场,后者搏的是未来份额。这两种想法并没有对错好坏之分,区分这两者更多时候可能是资源和能力。

[button color=”” size=”” type=”round” target=”” link=””]硅谷工程师的思维[/button]

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Eric,60后,美籍香港人,技术大牛,神乎科技CEO。

在创办神乎科技之前,Eric有一份令人羡慕的简历。

  • ?1994年,获得南加州大学计算机工程系硕士。
  • 随后三年在主营业务为接口控制芯片的上市公司OPTi参与研发。
  • 而后的5年以80号核心员工加入互联网通信公司Broadcom(博通)担任技术人员。
  • 2002年创办了BFrame Logic,专注于移动视频压缩解码服务。2003年底,BFrame Logic被英伟达收购。
  • 2004年回国与好友成立模拟与混合信号芯片供应商澜起科技,2013年登陆美国纳斯达克。

很多人看完这份简历的第一个问题不是“为什么选择VR,为什么做VR相机”,而是问:“你都那么成功了,完全可以享受人生,为什么一刻不停息,还要那么辛苦去折腾?” Eric的回答也很爽快,他说工作并不折腾,而是“一件很开心的事情,是一个乐趣”。

因为前两次创业的经历,Eric喜欢开公司做项目。因为这个过程还可以培养新的工程师,传播他认为对的理念以及获得更多人的认同。“没有人认同你,就像没有存在过”,他说。

在上海和硅谷两地不同文化环境的经历让Eric发现有两种思维的存在。这种两种思维表现在做事方式和解决问题的方式上。

“对于做事,很多工程师会觉得是朝九晚五,为公司干活。但这应该是等于学习,上班一天是学习一天。可以得到新的东西“,他继续说:“一般的解决思维是解决问题,不管这个方法是不是最好的。但是解决问题应该找到最好的解决方法,而且是用自己最好的方式找到解决方法”。

[button color=”” size=”” type=”round” target=”” link=””]?选择VR相机,做市场没有的产品[/button]

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从2013年开始,Eric一直在找新的项目,做过物联网解决方案,也看过机器人。但最后选择了VR,做了VR相机。

这里的原因,Eric说了三点。VR有应用场景;概念很hot;最重要的是,基于视频的VR相机无论硬件还是软件技术,自己都很熟悉。“VR不是一个新的概念。在90年代的时候也很火爆,只不过那当时的技术没办法突破,现在基本能实现了。不过,现在的VR缺少内容,所以我们做一套解决方案,生产更多内容”。

去年,Eric就留意到市面上的全景相机。但他觉得大多数相机没有做到VR的要求——3D,而且内容制作的效率也不高。市面上有通过GoPro组装成3D全景相机的方案,但是这种方案需要很长一段时间才能拼接好10分钟的视频。

所以,Eric想做市场没有的产品——3D、体积小、可移动、机内实时拼接、支持直播、性价比高的VR相机。在他看来,这是未来2~3年后需要的产品,所以也不担心目前视频传输等基础配套设施的问题,“2011年的时候,谁会想到4G发展那么快”。

在今年初,Eric搭建团队成立公司。目前,神乎科技团队有25人,多数是Eric过去工作中的徒弟,技术团队的从业经验平均有10年。

[button color=”” size=”” type=”round” target=”” link=””]Hubblo:技术领先市场一年多[/button]

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研发时间接近一年,神乎科技的第一款产品VR相机Hubblo原型机出炉。这款产品很好地体现出Eric的做事风格——用自己最好的方式找到解决方法。

与市面上大多数相机不同,Hubblo并没有基于哪一款芯片,比如联咏芯片,而是通过硬件设计实现:采取FPGA为开发架构,通过RTL(register transistor level)技术进行优化。

“我们的核心技术是解决方式创新”,Eric这样评论团队的核心技术,“这个技术领先市场一年多”。

这种创新让Hubblo获得两项国际专利。

采用3组6颗超广角摄像头,Hubblo通过定制硬件带来不少便利之处,产品的整体成本、体积、功耗、性能、以及相应的算法都可以在控制范围内。与此同时,还有一个更为重要的原因:以FPGA为开发架构可以实现并行运算,提高拼接的效率。由此,Hubblo能够把3D视频数据的实时拼接并输出。

但FPGA方案也有不好的地方,开发难度大、研发成本高,而且国内的相关人才也不好找。正好,这也是Eric的优势,对人才资源、技术方面,熟门熟路。

在Eric的计划中,Hubblo主要用于两方面,一个是VR直播,另一个是VR/AR应用的实景内容制作。“将来会有很多应用需要实景部分,这个时候可以用Hubblo采集”。

除了硬件,Hubblo还推出基于Android和iOS操作系统的VR平台。目前,这个平台汇集了不少4K、3D、 360的VR视频,是一款VR播放器。但未来,它将会通过Hubblo相机让所有人实现一键VR直播。Eric表示,神乎科技团队目前正在紧张调试,争取在年底登录Kickstarter之前把直播整个流程跑通。

在采访的最后,Eric和零镜网分享“影响最深的一句话”。“带我做技术的师傅曾经说过一句话,对我影响很大。‘做IC这一行,只有100分,没有99分’”,他说。

这句话也影响着最新成立的神乎科技,勇往行业前沿,不为当下折腰。

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