While photos and videos are great for capturing memories, what if they could do more? Google asks what if we could use these technologies to relive those memories, over and over. With the VR180 format, and cameras designed to capture such content, this dream might just be a (virtual) reality.
The video above shows what this could look like; but don’t take it from us, view it in a VR headset and see what it really means. This is some pretty great immersive content.
Google’s specification for VR180 means that the cameras designed to capture this content are as simple as can be, even for people who really aren’t familiar with VR. There are other consumer VR cameras available today, but you have to think carefully about where you place these cameras when recording, and they capture flat 360 footage that doesn’t create a realistic sense of depth. In contrast, with VR180 cameras, you just point and shoot to take 3D photos and videos of the world in stunning 4K resolution. The resulting imagery is far more immersive than what you get with a traditional camera. You just feel like you’re there. You can re-experience the memories you capture in virtual reality with a headset like Cardboard or Daydream View. Or for a lightweight but more accessible experience, you can watch on your phone.
With options for unlimited private storage in Google Photos, you’ll have complete control over these irreplaceable memories, and you can also view them anytime in 2D on your mobile or desktop devices without a VR headset. If you want to share them, uploading to services like YouTube is easy.
Several VR180 cameras will be available soon. Different models will sport different features—like live streaming, which lets you share special moments in real time. The two cameras shown above — Lenovo Mirage Camera and YI Technology’s YI Horizon VR180 Camera — will hit shelves beginning in the second quarter, and a camera from LG will be coming later this year. For professional creators, the Z Cam K1 Pro recently launched, and Panasonic is building VR180 support for their just-announced GH5 cameras with a new add-on.
On the Lenovo Mirage Camera, the company had this to say locally:
Now you can create your own VR content and then experience once-in-a-lifetime moments, on demand, with the Lenovo Mirage Camera with Daydream. This pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera simplifies the technology needed to capture 3D photos and videos with its dual 13 MP fisheye camera and its 180 x 180 degree field of view. We’re making the tools to make your own VR content accessible and fun. Photos and videos captured on the Lenovo Mirage Camera can be uploaded and viewed to your personal Google Photos and YouTube accounts. Watch on a standard browser on your Mirage Solo with Daydream headset, or on our VR headsets you may already own. It comes equipped with the Qualcomm Connected Camera Platform which features high-quality dual cameras, built-in WiFi and X9 LTE cellular modem in the LTE version.
Google is so excited by this new format that they’re running a bit of a competition, too: tell them about a special memory you’d like to capture, and they’ll work with the winners to bring their ideas to life.