Examples of the extraordinary power of 360-degree video abound. On the first two pages of a Google search for “360 video”, you’ll find a wide range of examples: elephants, sharks and shipwrecks, musical performances, and even a tornado.
It is very likely that 360-degree video is the next big thing when it comes to online experiences. That prediction is largely based on the recent entry of arguably two of the most influential tech giants into the field of 360-degree video.
YouTube announced in March 2015 it was supporting uploads of 360-degree videos onto the video sharing platform. Using the YouTube mobile app or a desktop browser, users can experience 360-degree videos by moving a cursor (desktop) or their finger (mobile). Even embedded videos supported the new functionality.
YouTube developed partnerships with top makers of 360-degree cameras, including Bublcam, Giroptic, Kodak, and RICOH. Uploaders needed to add special scripting language to allow the videos to display in 360 degrees.
In September 2015, Facebook announced it would be adding 360-degree videos to its news feed. Users can now choose the angle from which to watch videos recorded using multiple cameras to record all 360 degrees of a scene at the same time.
Viewers can interact with the feature using the cursor (desktop) or finger (mobile) to change the perspective from which you see the videos. Early adopters partnering with Facebook included Saturday Night Live, Star Wars, and Discovery. By November, the feature was available on iOS devices.
In mid May 2016, the company announced that it also supported using 360-degree photos as well.
What’s driving all of this innovation? Mostly, it’s the availability of inexpensive technology to make 360-degree videos. Cameras are available for several hundred dollars to create these visuals that just a few years ago cost thousands of dollars, required multiple staff, and were cumbersome to use.
As the prices continue to plummet, more and more consumers will find 360-degree videos an accessible, affordable, and viable recording option.
The potential is significant. At the widely popular music festival Coachella, YouTube was able to live stream selected performances for the first time. In addition, YouTube announced the introduction of spatial audio for some on-demand videos. By adjusting the perspective from which you view the music, you’re aural experience changes too. Distance, depth, and intensity will change depending on your virtual vantage point, allowing you to see and hear a virtual event even more like you would in person.
The possibilities are extraordinary! Its practical applications range from better instructional videos for students to auto accident reconstruction. Travelers can share experiences with much more detail. Journalists can provide more detailed perspectives while reporting stories. Entertainers can reach broader audiences with better performance experiences.
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