YouTube now supports 360 live video. Is this VR’s killer app?

Between the Gear VR and PC-based headsets, virtual reality is slowly gaining steam. But the technology needs all the content it can get to have staying power.

So we’re glad to see YouTube step up its VR offering, announcing support for live 360 video streams this week.

“We first launched support for 360-degree videos back in March 2015. From musicians to athletes to brands, creators have done some incredible things with this technology. Now, they’ll be able to do even more to bring fans directly into their world, with 360-degree live streaming. And after years of live streaming Coachella for fans around the world who can’t attend the festival, this year we’re bringing you the festival like never before by live streaming select artist performances in 360 degrees this weekend,” said Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube.

The streaming website also announced spatial audio support for on-demand 360 videos.

“Just as watching a concert in 360 degrees can give you an unmatched immersive experience, spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance and intensity all play a role,” Mohan explained.

The YouTube representative also gave a few user-cases for live 360 video.

“What excites me most about 360-degree storytelling is that it lets us open up the world’s experiences to everyone. Students can now experience news events in the classroom as they unfold. Travelers can experience faraway sites and explorers can deep-sea dive, all without the physical constraints of the real world. And today’s kids dreaming of going to a basketball game or a concert can access those experiences firsthand, even if they’re far away from the court. What were once limited experiences are now available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.”

Want to sample spatial audio? Then check out this YouTube playlist on your Android smartphone.

The real question is whether people will have fast enough connections to support the technology. After all, full HD video is still a problem for the majority of South Africans, with the country having an average internet connection speed of just over 3.5Mbps according to Akamai.

The other end of the equation is 360 video cameras, and there are relatively few budget offerings available right now. One possible exception might be the Samsung Gear 360, but it doesn’t have a confirmed price tag just yet.



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