Fueled by a growth in virtual and augmented reality, 360 degree cameras are expected to see rapid growth over the next five years. 360-degree cameras allow users to shoot spherical videos and still images, which can be shared on services like Facebook and YouTube and experienced as virtual reality using a phone, tablet or dedicated VR headset.
The 360-degree video below, for example, shows a Blue Angels flight from the perspective of one of the planes’ cockpits. On a phone or tablet, users can view the scene from different angles just by turning their devices left, right, up or down. (On a traditional computer, these movements are controlled using a finger or mouse.)
VR’s applications for education have been much lauded, and tech heavyweights have begun investing in the technology, in part to both enable and capitalize on educational opportunities. Google, for example, has been offering its low-cost Google Cardboard kits, which, coupled with the Google Expeditions service, provides VR-based educational experiences and learning activities.
LG 360 degree camera
360-degree cameras typically feature two or more ultra-wide-angle lenses whose images are stitched together to create a spherical panorama. The LG camera shown here uses two lenses whose individual fields of view are slightly greater than 180 degrees.
While VR content like Google Expeditions is being produced by third parties specifically targeting education, end users, too, are able to create VR content for phones and headsets by using 360 degree cameras to capture spherical (or hemispherical) images of museums, parks, concerts and historic locations. Cameras are already offers for end users by LG ($199), Samsung and Rico ($350) and many others.
And those are gaining in popularity.
All told, according to market research firm ABI Research, some 6 million consumer and prosumer cameras are expected to ship by 2021. (That’s out of a total of 70 million VR devices that are forecast to ship by then.)