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The Politics of 360-Degree Video

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First stereoscopic 3D support...now 360 degree video? According to Gizmodo's Sean Hollister, Google has made a statement that they will be adding full panorama 360 support in the coming weeks.  360 video has been around for ages, but it has taken on new interest because it's a great format for VR and sharing experiences remotely to headsets such as the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, ImmersiON-VRelia GO HMD, and more.

This is a good start, and it will be a few notches more impressive if they can (or will) figure out how to encode and distribute in stereoscopic 3D 360 degree form. Each 360 vendor has their own secret sauce on stitching their content together, and it's unclear if there are any easy to use standards for getting the 360-degree materials out there.  For example, some content vendors require the use of their proprietary store for actual online distribution.

For YouTube, it might be as simple as sharing two separate files for the left and right view, and leaving it to YouTube to join them, or something more elaborate.  It would be really cool for consumers if YouTube offers a stitching service to offload the processing time to their robust networks rather than our feeble home computers.

This all has ramifications though.  If Google finds a way to uncork the bottle on getting multiple content sources to work through one platform and to multiple devices, it will seriously diminish the business model of making money through independent online stores.  For example, it's far more likely that 360-degree camera vendors will be limited to being 360-degree camera vendors or content creation service providers - not revenue-generating stores.  Still, YouTube does play favorites.  When YouTube 3D was released, they supported the standard side by side modes, and included Nvidia 3D Vision support...but not AMD's HD3D - one of two GPU S-3D APIs in the market.

The metaverse vendors may have a more defendable position because the content is being served as part of a grander experience.  It's not just a raw feed for the sake of getting raw content.  We'll see.

Any way you look at it, if 360-degree video is poised to take off, it makes complete sense for YouTube to offer the format in some way.  Looking forward to trying this out!