YouTube’s 360-Degree Live Video Streaming: A Timely Boost for VR
Virtual reality and augmented reality are at long last about to make the leap we’ve all been expecting. VR technology had all but been abandoned by the mainstream until Oculus came and rekindled the world’s interest in virtual reality. Development of VR solutions has in that time accelerated tremendously, and now, anyone can have a high-quality VR experience for as little as $99 thanks to Samsung’s Gear VR headset, which works alongside the company’s most popular phones or even a $15 Google Cardboard plus your Android/Apple smartphone.
Gaming is a fantastic and natural use for VR with the technology having been designed specifically with the aim of immersing the user in a virtual world without them having to move away from the comfort of their chair.
VR must however move beyond just gaming in other to gain widespread acceptance and popularity, and with Monday’s launch of 360-degree live streaming support, YouTube may have just helped turn the tide.
Video games in the context of contemporary computing makes up a massive billions of dollar per quarter industry. The usage of dedicated consoles, PC gaming devices and video game software however pales significantly in comparison to computing in general. It is but a blip on the radar. People work on computers, browse the web.
Communicate with one another, stream and download music and videos. They carry tiny computers in their pockets and use them constantly to connect with the rest of the world.
Virtual reality and augmented reality clearly have a bright future ahead with video games being only a small part of that future. VR and AR computing will incorporate many (perhaps eventually, all) contemporary computing experiences, and on Monday we saw a big one begin to take shape.
YouTube’s launch of 360-degree live video streaming has the potential to be a watershed moment in the timeline of VR acceptance into widespread use. Due to the extraordinary (by today’s standard) amount of time and resources needed to create even VR experiences of short durations, user-generated content is huge for the VR market and this is why companies are beginning to place emphasis on new 360-degree cameras and similar accessories based on the premise that the amount of available VR content would grow exponentially when people are given affordable tools with which they can easily create 360-degree videos and photos.
Consider how much more immersive the experience would be if instead of watching your favorite YouTuber’s vlog, you can remotely experience exactly what the vlogger is experiencing. Rather than just watching the video of a concert, you can become a virtual member of the audience.
YouTube’s 360-degree video experience is however not confined to VR devices alone, which is a big deal in terms of adoption. Viewers can still enjoy a great experience using YouTube’s 360-degree video viewer.
VR clearly needs a lot more varying experiences and an ocean of content to grow. Giving end-users new, cheaper and more innovative ways to make and share high-quality user-generated content quickly and easily is a key ingredient for this to happen. Another key ingredient is easy access to the same content outside of VR as virtual reality gear has just begun to proliferate. That is why YouTube’s 360-degree video streaming has the makings of what would likely be a pivotal moment for VR.