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.