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Is 360 Video the Future of Media?

Know any­thing about 360 Video? It’s said that the best tech is the tech you don’t notice. The same idea could be restat­ed as, a rev­o­lu­tion­ary new break­through has­n’t real­ly achieved suc­cess until its reached crit­i­cal mass as a part of the gen­er­al pub­lic’s every­day rou­tines. So while vir­tu­al real­i­ty is arguably one of the coolest tech devel­op­ments in his­to­ry, it’s still essen­tial­ly sit­ting on the side­lines as a nov­el­ty. Grant­ed, it’s try­ing hard to get in the game, but so far it’s still the favorite new toy of the cut­ting edge crowd.

2017 could be the year that changes, that the first killer app for VR brings it onto Main Street. There are signs that this is com­ing, and one of them is just now devel­op­ing across a num­ber of “main­stream” areas — 360 videos.

360 Video is it! Your Panoramic Photo is Old School

360 videos are next evo­lu­tion from the panoram­ic pho­tos tak­en with smart­phones, which might be con­sid­ered the most basic form of VR. Of course they need spe­cial omni-direc­tion­al cam­eras or a spe­cial rig with mul­ti­ple cam­eras to shoot them, which smart­phones don’t have (yet), in order to cap­ture a 360 degree view of the video. But view­ing them, at least in the most basic way, does­n’t require any more than a nor­mal brows­er — unless you’re using Safari (I’m look­ing at you, Apple).

Even with Safari though, you can still enter a 360 video and move around to see dif­fer­ent angles if you use one of the most pop­u­lar media play­ers around, VLC. The full func­tion­al­i­ty will be avail­able in VLC 3.0 at the end of Decem­ber. You’ll still have to pan around with your cur­sor though, at least for now. Next year VLC media plans to sup­port major VR head­sets and plat­forms like Ocu­lus Rift, HTC Vive, and Google Day­dream, as well as offer­ing the func­tion­al­i­ty on Android, iOS, and Xbox One.

And for Everyone Else…

While VLC is extreme­ly pop­u­lar, Face­book and Word­Press are used by a vast­ly larg­er crowd. Both of these plat­forms are offer­ing 360 video options to peo­ple as well. Face­book is launch­ing live 360 videos, but again it’s unlike­ly that your cousin has an omni-direc­tion­al video cam­era so for now they’ll be lim­it­ed to orga­ni­za­tions with access to the equip­ment. Still, being able to don your Rift or Vive and immerse your­self in a live video feed is pret­ty cool.

Then there’s Word­Press, the back­bone of the inter­net when it comes to blog­ging. Pre­mi­um and busi­ness accounts have a beta 360 video uploader that will roll out to users before long. Word­Press wants to make it as easy to pub­lish VR con­tent as it is to pub­lish text or pho­tos cur­rent­ly. Killer app indeed. Soon every blog you vis­it could be using VR in the form of 360 videos, not to men­tion see­ing them reg­u­lar­ly in your Face­book feed. And that, my friends, is full steam ahead to crit­i­cal mass. If you’re in the tech world and you cur­rent­ly aren’t try­ing to dis­cov­er how VR fits into the future of your career, you should rethink your strat­e­gy. It’s very pos­si­ble that before too long VR will be inte­gral in all things tech, and that could open a new world of employ­ment opportunities.

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