360-Degree Cameras Such As 360Fly Are Set To Be Big Next Year
360Fly is a remarkable little camera, sturdy it is capable of shooting and then stitching together full 360-degree video in seconds.
In 2016 analysts are tipping that the consumer 360-degree camera market is set to take off with some tipping that it could be even bigger than the current action camera market as new applications are developed.
Just for a moment imagine sitting on an aircraft as it takes off and what you see on your screen is a full 360-degree view of what is around you as you scroll the image up and down and side to side.
The new 360Fly camera is like a large golf ball, waterproof it can easily be attached to an existing GoPro mount, while the images are excellent it does not shoot full 1080p or 4K, instead video is shot in 720p HD, which is good enough at this stage to have a lot of fun.
It’s also ideal for boardrooms where a full board meeting of 10 or more people can be recorded with viewers able to scroll round and listen to what each speaker had to say.
At this stage The 360fly costs $649.95; the VR headset is $69.95.
To get operational all you have to do is download the 360Fly app from the Play Store or the Apple Store and follow the instructions. It is remarkable simple.
And whatever the merits of this particular camera, any objective observer would have to agree that the video is pretty cool.
Yesterday in Melbourne GoPro opened a Melbourne office, they showed a 15 Go Pro camera rig designed to capture a 360 image. It was big and cumbersome and needs one hell of a lot of editing.
If elaborate 360-degree camera rigs such as the GoPro Array are on the cutting edge of video technology, then consumer versions are on the edge of even that.
Although movie studios and other professional content creators can afford $15,000 camera rigs, the average consumer cannot and at $649 the 360Fly is an intelligent alternative.
Currently 360Fly is looking for distributors in Australia before hitting the mass market, currently it is only available online and at one specialist store.
Several camera brands are already trialling 360-degree cameras, to keep their camera small, Ricoh uses two lenses in a model known as the Theta S, each capable of seeing 190 degrees. To keep it thin, Ricoh created a “folded optical path” using an optical prism, enabling the image to travel into the lens, turn a corner and hit the camera’s sensors that are built into the side of the device.
Then there’s Giroptic’s a palm-size 360-degree camera that resembles a children’s toy with three eye-like lenses. It’s available for pre-order online at $499.
A launch date has not been announced.
“Part of the problem with 360-degree cameras is there’s not an easy way to view or experience the content either in virtual reality or outside of it,” said Brian Blau, an analyst at research firm Gartner. “And that’s because it’s so new, there aren’t a lot of standards in software and there isn’t a lot of infrastructure support yet.”
A big plus with the 360Fly is that they have their own viewer that is built into their app however this is going to restrict who you can send the video to.
Until recently, even if someone put together a home-brewed rig with multiple cameras and managed to stitch it together, there was no way to offer that 360-degree viewing experience on popular social media platforms.
Facebook doesn’t support 360-degree photos or videos yet. Nor do photo share sites such as Flickr.
If someone were to post a 360-degree video to either platform, it would appear as a flat, non-interactive image.
YouTube recently announced its support of 360-degree videos, and camera makers are letting people upload their 360-degree photos and videos to their own websites.
360fly is shipping its cameras with Google Cardboard virtual-reality headsets.
The other challenge is in getting people to use the cameras.
“For 185 years, people have looked through a viewfinder to take photos and video,” Blau said. “They’ve been doing the lighting and thinking about exposure and aperture, and you have some of those controls with the Theta S, but the one thing missing from that is composition. There is no composition.”
Blau said that when consumers moved from film to digital cameras, it was a big technological leap, but it wasn’t a big mental leap. Taking a photo still required looking through a viewfinder of some sort, and the resulting images were still square or rectangular.
Getting people to feel comfortable using a tiny device with no viewfinder (unless they want to connect the Theta S or 360fly to their phone and use the phone’s screen as a viewfinder) will be a challenge he said.