Google to launch 180-degree virtual reality video cameras
Google is planning to launch a range of 180-degree virtual reality video cameras and is working with manufacturers including YI, Lenovo, and LG on project, which is billed as VR180. The cameras will be as easy to use as point and shoots, and will have a similar price tag. The first units are expected to be available by winter 2017.
The reasoning behind the initiative is simple. VR video is currently the most popular way people experience VR, but 360-degree VR production is complex and costly. There is also a case for arguing that many VR films don’t really require 360-degrees: watching footage of a ski jumper for example, or a rollercoaster (do you really need to look backwards other than to prove that you can?). Google is keen to see more quality VR content make its way onto YouTube
Certainly, Google is convinced by the logic. Announcing the project in a blog post, Frank Rodriguez, product manager at Google said: “We know that virtual reality videos can be really powerful, which is why we invested in supporting 360 and VR formats for over two years. VR video is the most popular way to experience VR. But, we’ve heard from creators and viewers that you want to make and see even more immersive videos on YouTube. So, we’ve been working with Google’s Daydream team on a brand new video format, called VR180, that we believe will make VR content even easier to create.”
Rodriguez said that the Daydream team (Google’s bespoke VR unit) is working with several manufacturers to build cameras “from the ground” up for VR180.
The 180-degree VR cameras will be as easy to use as point-and-shoot cameras, and will cost about the same. Videos and livestreams will be easy to upload to YouTube, Rodriguez added.
“Cameras from YI, Lenovo, and LG are on the way, and the first ones will hit shelves this winter. For other manufacturers, we’re opening up a VR180 certification program and Z CAM will be one of our first partners,” Rodriguez said.