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Google's VR180 Initiative Sacrifices 360 Degrees For High Quality Video

Google's VR180 Initiative Sacrifices 360 Degrees For High Quality Video

360 degree videos can be some of the most immersive and amazing things to view inside your VR headset, but they take up massive amounts of data. This usually means that streaming them results in a blurry mess. To that end, the company this week announced a compromise of sorts: VR180.

As the name suggests, VR180 halves the viewing angle, but improves on quality and also adds stereoscopic 3D into the mix. The platform will consist of several compatible cameras, some of which are being developed with the help of the Google Daydream team. 360 cameras can be elaborate and expensive, but these new devices promise to be easy to use, much like traditional cameras, with filmmakers simply pointing in the direction of the action and hitting record.

There are already a handful of VR180 videos on YouTube featured by Google itself, though they look just like regular YouTube videos on browsers. Still, you’ll be able to view them with headsets like YouTube, Cardboard, and PlayStation VR (PSVR), where they’ll take up your entire view if you look forwards, but you’ll notice the borders when looking around.

Cameras will be able to livestream to YouTube and upload directly after filming. YI, Lenovo, and LG are all making VR180 cameras, and the first ones will be arriving this winter. Google is also opening up a certification program so that others can make compatible cameras. You can sign up to learn more about the platform at an official site.

Hopefully we’ll one day have clear 360 degree video with stereoscopic support but, in the meantime, this looks like a good workaround.

VR180 arrives just as Google preps a new era for its VR plans with standalone VR headsets that run on Daydream. Lenovo is making one of these devices too, which is set to release later this year. LG, meanwhile, also has its own VR headset, though its PC-based using SteamVR tracking.


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