YouTube and Google are hoping to improve virtual reality by cutting it in half.
For all the hype surrounding VR, it hasn't really caught on. The technology, while not without its strong points, is too expensive and intimidating for the average user. YouTube, however, is hoping to change that. The upcoming VR 180 format will make it easier and cheaper for content producers to create VR videos.
As the name implies, VR 180 ditches the traditional 360 degree-focus of other VR videos for a more limited field of view. This will make it easier for content creators to make VR videos that work on mobile and desktop devices while still supporting Daydream, Cardboard, and PSVR. When paired with one of the supported platforms, VR 180 videos will give users an immersive 3D experience. In addition to videos, VR 180 will also support live streams allowing content creators and viewers to interact in real-time.
It hasn't given us a date, but YouTube said that VR 180 videos will soon be compatible with standard video production tools such as Adobe
As we've already noted, the costs of VR are one of the major hurdles to widespread adoption. While Google and other companies are working to make the headsets more affordable, they are also taking a major step forward in terms of VR videos. Google has announced that they have partnered with YI, Lenovo, and LG to produce VR cameras that will be the same as standard cameras. The first batch of these VR cameras is expected to launch this winter. Google's VR 180 certification program will offer other companies the opportunity to produce VR 180 cameras which should help to keep prices low.
Aside from price, usability has been another major obstacle to VR's success. While the tech may not be too complicated for tech-enthusiasts, the average user may be a different story. Luckily, these upcoming VR camera won't have that problem as Google insists they're as easy to use as any point-and-shoot camera.
The ease of usability combined with an affordable price point should make VR 180 a more popular format, at least as popular as VR videos can be. The real question we have is whether or not many users will take advantage of the VR-aspects of these videos. VR headsets are still a niche product and this product does nothing to save that particular problem.