Saturday, April 2, 2016

Preorders about to start for Vuze, the first 3D 360-degree camera forconsumers



Vuze just tweeted that preorders are about to start. To get the chance to preorder, you need to sign up on their website.  Preorders will also receive special offers.

Check out our preview here and see the label/tags (below the sharing buttons) for related posts, including samples.

April Will Be a Big Month for Ricoh Theta. Here's Why.



This month will be a big one for Ricoh Theta.  In the recently-announced Ricoh Theta Developers contest, Ricoh disclosed that they will be adding "photo and media storage."  Now, details are emerging from Internet of Things Corp. (IoT.do) about the significance of this announcement: Ricoh will indeed be offering cloud-based storage and a cloud API.   That might not seem significant, but here's why it matters, and how users can benefit from it:



1. Automatic backups.
The Theta S has only 8GB of internal memory, which can fill up in a few days, especially if you shoot video.  With cloud-based storage, Theta photos can be uploaded to the cloud automatically, clearing out space in your Theta.  Unlike downloading photos to your hard-drive, the photos will remain accessible to you anywhere you have access to the Internet.  If you use Google Photos, you'll know what I mean.  In the case of Google Photos, for example, photos on my phone are backed up automatically, and older photos are deleted from my phone, but remain accessible from the cloud.  If I need the photo again, I just download it when I need it.  Now Theta users will get the same benefit.

If you're wondering whether this will cause you to drain your internet phone plan, not to worry.  I'm almost sure there will be a setting to do the backup only when you're connected via Wi-Fi, and maybe we can even specify that it happens only when we're asleep.

2. Cloud services.
Not only will Ricoh offer cloud-based storage, but it will offer cloud services.  In layman's terms, instead of your camera processing the raw images, stitching them, and converting them into spherical images, all that work can be done on Ricoh's servers after the images are uploaded.  Ricoh calls this Backend as a Service (BaaS).

I suspect this will be primarily for videos.  As Theta users know, when you take a video on the Theta, the video still has to be processed afterward before it can be in a equirectangular format that can be viewed on spherical viewers.  This conversion process takes a while.  Even a video of a few seconds can take a few minutes to be converted.  If my hunch is right, then unprocessed videos can be uploaded to Ricoh's servers, and their powerful processors will be able to convert the videos more quickly.  Or, if not quickly, at least they'll convert them for you while you sleep.

3.  Editing.
With images stored on Ricoh's servers, Ricoh can offer online editing of photos (note that their announcement mentioned image processing and image recognition as features under consideration).  Again, analogizing to Google Photos, I can use Google Photos' online editor to edit my photos and add special effects.  Recently, for example, Ricoh added a cherry blossom effect.  With cloud-based images, Ricoh can offer other special effects more easily.

With Google Photos, I can also search for images by describing them, even though I didn't tag them, thanks to image recognition.  It appears Ricoh is considering offering similar features for Theta users.

4. Sharing.
Ricoh is very interested in social media (aka SNS - social networking services).  The announcement mentioned "SNS linking."  At first glance, this is curious because they already include automatic sharing to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.  However, right now all that happens is that your shared post will have a thumbnail, and users need to click on the image to be sent to the URL of the 360-image on Theta's site.   However, that can change with Cloud APIs.  Instead, when you share an image, it can be an embedded 360-degree image, just like how you can embed 360 images on webpages.  The processing to view the image in a photosphere could be handled by Ricoh's servers, similar to how Google's VR Views allow any equirectangular panorama to be viewed via Google Cardboard.

So, yes, Ricoh's cloud-based storage, starting this month, is pretty big news.  Don't expect to see all these features right away, but they will be rolled out gradually.

What features would you like to see from Ricoh's cloud? Post in the comments below!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Five Best 360 / VR April Fools' gags for 2016

The fifth one is a riot!


1. Google Cardboard Plastic
Following up on the remarkable success of the Google Cardboard is the new Google Cardboard Plastic.



Bet you didn't know Snoop could code.


3. VR Strip Tease (from @RampantTv)

Of course it was inevitable that VR would be used by the porn industry.


4. VR Bucket (from @BeefJack)
Sure, Mayo Clinic has found a cure for VR motion sickness, but in the meantime, there's the VR Bucket.

Update on Nikon KeyMission 360 release date, new sample videos, and other news



Ever since the Nikon KeyMission 360 was announced in January, everyone has been waiting with baited breath for news about it.  But there is precious little information about it, even 3 months later, despite the announced Spring 2016 release date.  But here's some additional information, including the release date, and new sample videos!


UPDATE: The Keymission 360 has been released.
Announcement and specifications
New sample videos
Comparison with Samsung Gear 360 and Kodak SP360 4k
Free accessory pack with preorders
Free shipping offer; available accessories
Keymission 360 comes with these accessories
Sample full resolution photo from Nikon Keymission 360
Hands-on report on the Nikon Keymission 360 from Photokina 2016
Keymission 360 Unboxing




3D 360 VR video of Nepal after earthquake

a scene from Nepal: After the Earthquake

One of the benefits touted for 360 VR videos is that it generates greater empathy in viewers.  ABC News produced a 3D 360 VR video showing how the earthquake has affected the landmarks of Kathmandu in Nepal.

Insta360 4k 360 camera demo

One of the most intriguing 360 cameras is the Insta360 4k, which is the first and thus far the only 4k fully spherical 360 camera for consumers. They recently released a video showing how the camera is used.



Interestingly, the Insta360 4k has the ability to recalibrate itself if the sensors fall out of alignment such as due to being dropped.



To see related posts on the Insta360 4k and other topics, click on the label/tags below (below the sharing icons), or check the tag cloud on the right side of the page.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Video conferencing and other features coming for Ricoh Theta


Ricoh revealed that there are upcoming features planned for the Theta. Coming in April 2016, there will be photo media storage and video communication. See the screenshot from Theta's site. Can't read Japanese? That's ok! :)


Video communication seems to mean video conferencing, similar to the feature announced by 360fly a couple of weeks ago. I predicted this is a post a few weeks ago: http://360rumors.blogspot.com/2016/03/ricoh-hints-at-features-for-next-theta.html

Photo and media storage is more ambiguous. It could mean a hardware solution that perhaps attaches to the bottom of the Theta. But it could be an extension of the theta360.com site that allows automatic backup of images or something similar. 

Remote control, SNS linking (probably increasing the social media sharing options), and image processing were also expected (from my previous post). The latter seems to mean adding to the image editing capabilities of the Theta+ app.

I'm not sure about sensor collaboration. Does it mean licensing tech from other companies or to other companies, or something else entirely?

Anyway, it looks like the Theta will have a few new capabilities in the near future. 


To see other related posts on the Ricoh Theta and other topics, click on the label/tags below (below the sharing icons), or check the tag cloud on the right side of the page.

Opinion: Why Google's VR View is a Big Deal

TL;DR: VR View will do for sharing what Theta did for capturing and what Cardboard did for viewing 360 photos.

Yesterday, Google released VR View.  Here's why it has the potential to take the popularity of VR to the next level.

BACKGROUND

360 photos have been around for a long time now.  The first "virtual tour" was as early as 1994.  Streetview is almost 10 years old (it launched 2007).  Sure, it sparked some interest, but not the same level of hype we see today.

What changed was that it suddenly became easy for the average consumer to create 360 photos, thanks to cameras such as the Ricoh Theta.  Without a 360 camera, 360 panoramas either have to be captured by moving the camera or phone, which usually leads to many stitching errors, or with a dedicated panorama setup (with panoramic tripod, etc.), which is technically demanding.  There were also catadioptric lens solutions for smartphones, but the quality was meh.  The Theta revolutionized 360 capture because it made it easy enough for a child to do, and the image quality was good enough that you didn't have to apologize for it.

This democrcatization also occurred in 360 content consumption with Google Cardboard, which gave anyone with a smartphone a way to experience 360 photos and videos immersively.

WHAT'S MISSING?

However, one of the pieces that's still missing is ease of sharing 360 photos and videos.  For example, in a review of the otherwise popular Ricoh Theta S, writer Jason Cipriani lamented the difficulty of sharing 360 photos and videos.  To share 360 images, you have to upload a 360 photo to a website or app that would enable viewers to interact with the 360 image.  It's not difficult, but it's a couple of steps removed from sharing JPEGs.

But what if you didn't need to upload a 360 image to a special website or app?  And what if that 360 image could still be viewed on any Android or iOS smartphone, with 360-degree interaction and even the option to switch to a Google Cardboard view?

That's exactly what VR View is about.  It democratizes the sharing of 360 images.

With VR View, you don't need a special website or app to upload your 360 image.  You can upload it on a non-360 image hosting service, such as Imgur, and it would still be viewable as a 360 image, with the help of a little behind-the-scenes work from VR View.

HOW TO USE VR VIEW

As a 360 content creator, you don't need special coding skills to use VR View.  You can embed a 360 image on a webpage using a simple iframe tag.  Here is a sample tag:

<iframe width="80%" allowfullscreen frameborder="0" src="//storage.googleapis.com/vrview/index.html?image=http://i.imgur.com/K8dN0IR.jpg"></iframe>

In the sample tag above, "http://i.imgur.com/K8dN0IR.jpg" is the image address.  You can see that the image is hosted on Imgur, not on Theta360.com or a 360-specific website.

Here is what the result looks like:


If you're on a smartphone, you should see the option to switch to Google Cardboard view.  That was easy!

Google open-sourced the code so you can host it on your own server.  They also gave the SDK for Andoid and iOS to easily add VR View to your app.  But this article is about democratization so I won't get into that.

Suffice to say that 360 photos and videos should become much more common, thanks to VR View.  In the near future, they may become so ubiquitous that while they certainly won't replace regular photos and videos, 360 photos and videos would be expected by consumers.

Ricoh's Developer Contest Offers $45,000 of Prizes



$45,000 (5 million yen) of total prizes are at stake in the second RICOH THETA x IoT Developers’ Contest, which starts tomorrow.

The contest has three categories or sections: APIs, utilities (standalone software), and gadgets.  Each section winner will win 500,000 yen.  There will be a grand prize winner (separate from the section winners) who will receive 1 million yen.

In addition, there will be five winners of the 80th anniversary special prizes, worth 300,000 yen each.  Finally, the judges can choose up to 10 honorable mentions, worth 100,000 each.

The winners will be chosen based on originality, potential, and practical value.

The contest entry period is from April 1, 2016 to August 10, 2016.  The contest rules require submission of the actual item (such as gadget, app, etc.) and the deadline for submitting the item is August 31, 2016.

Official contest website is here.  Here are last year's winners.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Insta360 4k also available at Adorama


Insta360 4k, the first 4k fully spherical camera for consumers, is now also available at Adorama on pre-order for $599.

To see related posts on the Insta360 and other topics, click on the label/tags below (below the sharing icons), or check the tag cloud on the right side of the page.

Have a 360 livestream with your friends with 360Fly and Livit



If you're some place really awesome that you want your friends to see, whipping around your phone in a video chat doesn't always convey the same sense of awe.  Fortunately, you can now have a 360 livestream with your friends and followers using the 360Fly 360-degree camera and Livit app.

The app also supports a Google Cardboard view:


There are at least a couple of other 360 cameras that have livestreaming capability, such as the Ricoh Theta S, and the Insta360 4k.  However, 360Fly and Livit are the first to have an app for consumers to livestream to their friends and followers.  It is rumored that Ricoh is looking into this capability for the next version of the Theta.

Meanwhile, here is a tutorial on connecting the 360Fly and Livit app:


Currently, 360 livestreaming is supported only on the iOS version of Livit. The Android update is coming soon.

For the latest news and developments for 360 cameras and virtual reality, follow us on Twitter (@360RumorsBlog) or Google+ (Mic Ty), feed, or subscribe via email on the right column of our page.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

More 3D 360 Video Samples from Vuze Camera!


You can now see several more 3D 360 videos from the Vuze Camera, the first affordable 360 3D for consumers.

Two ways to watch the videos:

Playstation VR Core Set Pre-order Available Now

You can now order the Playstation VR by itself for $399.99, without the launch bundle's PS Move, PS4 Camera and VR Worlds game.  It's available at several retailers, including Target and Best Buy.

If you don't have the PS4 Camera (~$50) and PS Move yet (~$30 each), getting the launch bundle is like getting the VR Worlds game disc at no additional cost, and getting a small discount off the other required accessories.

To see related posts on the Playstation VR and other topics, click on the label/tags below (below the sharing icons), or check the tag cloud on the right side of the page.

Compact Cardboard: GoogleTech C-1 Glass Review


There are many Google Cardboard viewers, but the GoogleTech C-1 Glass is one of the most compact viewers.

Samsung Gear 360 Release Date is April 29!



We finally have a specific date for the Samsung Gear 360's availability: according to B&H, they will start taking orders on April 29 at 12am.  The time zone is not known but B&H is based in New York, so if it's Eastern Time, technically the camera becomes available April 28 at 9pm on the West Coast.

B&H removed the price from their page, and the price still remains unconfirmed (the last price they showed was $349.99).

Personally, I think it's a pretty good camera, but I use an iPhone, and I have doubts about whether Samsung will allow it to connect to iPhones.

To see related posts on the Samsung Gear 360 and other topics, click on the label/tags below (below the sharing icons), or check the tag cloud on the right side of the page.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Samsung Gear 360 Change to Price and Availability?


Is there a change to the Samsung Gear 360's price and availability? B&H Photo previously posted a price of $399.99 then later $349.99, and an expected availability of May 2016. But now their page has been revised to delete both price and availability. Meanwhile, they didn't change their page for the LG 360 Cam which is still available for pre-order for $199.99 (based on T-Mobile's promo, the LG's availability appears to be around May 2016). 

Sample a 3D 360 Video from the Vuze camera!



Sure, there are several 360 cameras in the market, and even more to come. But Vuze is still the only one that will offer a fully spherical 3D 360 camera for consumers. But how good is the Vuze's image quality? You can now see for yourself - in 360 3D!


Here is the link: https://www.vrideo.com/watch/BwGEdXg To see the video, you may need to use the Vrideo app.

The video is limited to 2k resolution even though the Vuze will have 4k capability. The sample video looks pretty impressive, with good dynamic range. It does have some stitching errors for close objects, something that Vuze had cautioned about.

Btw check out the Vrideo app, which has several interesting 360 videos, both 2D and 3D.

For related posts on the Vuze camera and other topics, click on the tag/label below.

IU uses VR to attract prospective students


Prospective students to Indiana University Bloomington can get a 360 tour of the IU campus through an app, available for Apple and Android phones. 


"Walk through the Sample Gates. Check out the historic Old Crescent. Breeze through the Arboretum. Get a sneak peek at a residence hall neighborhood." The app requires a Google Cardbord viewer. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Insta360 4k: first consumer 360 4k cam now shipping!


The first full spherical 360 camera with 4k video resolution for consumers is now available at B&H Photo. At $599, it is more expensive than the popular Ricoh Theta S, but has far higher video resolution (4k vs 1080), which is the Theta's weak point.  It is significantly less than the $899 Kodak SP360 4k dual pro pack, has smoother stitching due to the smaller distance between lenses, and it has an audio input jack. Check out our preview here for details and samples: http://360rumors.blogspot.com/2016/03/preview-insta360-is-360-degree-4k-video.html

Insta360 4k is available from B&H here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1219224-REG/insta360_4k.html

Beautiful 360 Videos of Beaches and Mountains from ClubMed


Gorgeous beaches and blue waters beckon to you in beautiful 360 videos by Club Med. The videos include aerial views, underwater views and everything in between. 



Club Med also showcased its French mountain resort in Peisey-Vallandry.