Why would you need a 360-degree video camera solution? Easy – if you are interested in virtual reality you need a solution that enables you to capture a genuine 3D, virtual reality image. Just a few years ago, you might have considered buying time on a third party multiple camera set-up, to simultaneously record all the angles of an object or scene. Now, even consumers are able to create Virtual Reality content with an affordable 360-degree video camera.
Not so long ago, production of high quality 360-degree video content demanded an expensive professional solution. Towards the end of 2015, GoPro announced Odyssey, a 16-camera rig designed for Google’s 3D, 360-degree virtual reality platform, Jump, through the Odyssey Limited Access Program (LAP). Professional content creators and producers could apply to participate and purchase an Odyssey rig.
First announced at Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, Odyssey offered a 360-degree camera array for stereoscopic 3D content capture. Features such as genlock camera synchronization, multi-camera control and extended battery life aim to eliminate challenges faced by content creators at the forefront of immersive content capture. Together, GoPro’s Odyssey and Google’s Jump platform made it possible for anyone to experience a time or place, through immersive, 3D, 360-degree content.
Jump had three parts: a specialized camera, the GoPro Odyssey; an assembler, that uses advanced computer vision and the computing power of the Google cloud to process the footage; and a player (YouTube). Tony Bates, president of GoPro, explained at the time of the launch: “Virtual reality is a promising new innovation, with incredible potential for commercial and artistic applications. With Odyssey and Jump, GoPro is encouraging content creators to pioneer the new technology – to capture, edit and share immersive content.”
As a professional solution, access to GoPro Odyssey was limited LAP partners, selected by GoPro and Google working. The Odyssey rig was offered at $15,000, which included:
- 16 HERO4 Black cameras, fully loaded with custom firmware
- 16 array backpacks with syncing cables
- Custom-built ultra-rugged Pelican case
VR for everybody
Outside the ranks of professional VR content developers, camera manufacturers recognised a demand for self-made content – people who wanted to add VR elements to their web sites, but who didn’t want to depend on the services of an outside agency.
To capitalise on this emerging market, Nikon announced its entry into the 360-degree action camera sector with the development of an exciting new line-up of products. The first in the line-up is the Nikon KeyMission 360, a ruggedised camera capable of recording true 360-degree video in 4K/UHD, to allow users to share new perspectives,
The Nikon KeyMission 360 features an image sensor and lens on opposite sides of the device, with images from each combining to create a single immersive, ultra-high-definition 360-degree video and still image. A terrific companion for a wide range of travel, sports or when an adventure takes a turn off the beaten path, the camera is designed to be easy to use and withstand the elements.
Waterproof (down to approximately 30 metres), dustproof and able to withstand shock and low temperatures, the KeyMission 360 also features electronic Vibration Reduction (VR), enabled through applications during playback, that reduces the effects of camera shake to help produce sharp and crisp video quality.
Samsung entered the market, in February of last year, with the Samsung Gear 360.
The KeyMission 360, is the first of Nikon’s new line-up of action cameras, and sells, along with a variety of dedicated accessories, at a typical price at Currys of £419.
Samsung announced its entry into the market, in February of last year, with the Samsung Gear 360 – a 360-degree camera that lets consumers easily create, view and share their favourite experiences through video and still image content.
Gear 360 is designed for travel, festive gatherings and every activity in between to provide an all-encompassing visual experience. The new camera leverages the best of the Samsung Galaxy experience so users can become the creator of their own virtual reality content to enjoy through Gear VR.
“Samsung continues to push the boundaries of the mobile experience to extend beyond the smartphone,” said DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “On the heels of last year’s Gear VR release, Gear 360 continues to push the limits on immersive content – providing a visual experience that makes capturing and sharing life’s moments even easier.”
Samsung’s Gear 360 is equipped with dual fisheye lenses, which both have 15-megapixel image sensors, giving users the ability to capture high-resolution (3840 x 1920) 360-degree video that also supports 30-megapixel still images. Users are also able to shoot 180-degree wide angle video and images with only using one
LG announced the LG 360 CAM at Mobile World Congress in 2016.
side of the camera lens. Built for any time of day, Gear 360 offers Bright Lens F2.0, which creates high resolution images even in low-light conditions, where users can create full panoramic videos.
With a light and compact, spherical shaped design, Gear 360 maximizes portability to film on the go or for indoor activities. Gear 360 features a user-friendly tripod and is also compatible with a wider selection of accessories and mounts currently available on the market.
When Gear 360 is synced with a Samsung smartphone, users will be able to preview content in real time when recording. It will automatically bring up filmed content for users to view and save on their smartphone or to upload and share directly on social channels including Google Street View.
For a real 360 viewing experience, users can simply watch self-created content through Gear VR. All these features will be available through a dedicated mobile application for download from Galaxy Apps, Google Play and PC software for more in-depth editing capabilities. Gear 360 is compatible with select Samsung smartphones including the newly released Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S6. The Gear 360 retails at approximately (£250 – £300) – substantially lower than the Nikon KeyMission 360.
As consumer-generated VR content increases in popularity, rival hardware solutions are rapidly coming to market. Where there is an offering from Samsung in a high growth category, you can net that Koran rivals LG won’t be far away. LG announced the LG 360 CAM at Mobile World Congress in 2016. While many phones and point-and-shoot cameras have a panorama mode, 360-degree spherical images and videos take visuals even further by including everything in the scene, including the ground and the sky.
With its compact, portable size and high-resolution images, the LG 360 CAM is one of the first imaging devices to take advantage of the growing trend of 360-degree content creation. The LG 369 CAM became the fits camera from a smartphone manufacturer to be optimised for Google Street View. With the free Google Street View app installed on their iOS or Android smartphones, LG 360 CAM owners can capture, upload and share their 360-degree content directly from their phones without having to convert or process their files into the appropriate format, a time-consuming process.
The LG 360 CAM features three embedded microphones and supports 5.1 channel surround sound recording. It is equipped with an internal battery with a capacity of 1,200mAh allowing for up to 70 minutes of video recording. With its microSD card slot, the camera can be extended to a maximum of 2TB.
“Until recently, creating 360-degree images and videos required expensive and heavy equipment out of the reach of everyday consumers,” said Kim Hong-joo Kim, Vice President and Head of product planning at LG Mobile Communications Company. “LG 360 CAM will enable users to create their own content easily and share them freely in a way that nurtures a new mobile ecosystem within the LG Playground.”
While its early days in 360-degree videography, business applications in architecture, property development, town planning and environmental services are already establishing a professional market for the technology. The global market 360-degree cameras is expected grow at a CAGR of close to 35% during the period 2016-2020, according to Technavio’s latest report.
“The growth of the global 360-degree camera market is driven by the growing popularity of virtual reality technology. The increased penetration of VR headsets is going to increase the addressable market for 360-degree cameras,” says Ujjwal Doshi, a lead analyst at Technavio for consumer electronics research.
In 2015, with a market share of over 41%, the Americas dominated the global 360-degree camera market, followed by EMEA with over 38% and APAC with over 20%.
The major factor influencing the growth of 360-degree camera market in the EMEA region is the increasing popularity of gaming consoles. Western Europe accounts for more than 80% of the market in this region. The growth is attributed to the high console-to-PC ratio as a gaming device.
Various sectors are adopting VR simulation, a technique that was specific for military training. For instance, Plextek, a UK-based company, conducted a project where a medical immersive simulation training system was created using the Oculus Rift.
LG announced the LG 360 CAM at Mobile World Congress in 2016.
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