Google Executive Neal Mohan took the wrap off YouTube’s newest feature to allow anyone to enjoy immersive content right from their phone. YouTube’s live streaming and 360-degree video section means that, like Mohan, not everyone can make every NBA game in a season so “now anyone, with just their phone, can have that front row experience without having to be there”.
The timing couldn’t be better as the announcement of YouTube’s new service comes just one week after Facebook unveiled its plans for expanding live-streaming and its own design for a 360-degree camera. The implementation of Live 360 on YouTube is as a seamless gateway to immersive virtual reality content where, “as a user, you don’t need to do anything,” says Mohan. Simply open the YouTube app on your mobile device or launch it on the web and you’re good to go. He was quick to highlight that “there is no fancy technology to purchase or integrate” as a subtle dig at Facebook and the recent launch of the expensive Oculus Rift that retails for $599 to enjoy virtual reality content.
YouTube’s Live 360 product will work with cameras that cost as little as $350, which is substantially less than the approximate $17,000 it would cost to build the open-source hardware Facebook showed off at F8. YouTube is also releasing an API so anyone who wants to make the hardware can integrate Live 360 into their product.
“Right now it’s specialized hardware,” Mohan explains. “But you know how these things work from a technology curve standpoint. We think we need to have a handful of flagship experiences and then as hardware tech takes off, it will spread out more broadly.”
360 video has been around for a while on Facebook and YouTube but live 360 looks to take that content consumption to the next level when it comes to virtual reality, especially making it accessible with the supporting hardware that as time progresses will become more affordable for the masses.