Nokia Reimagines Hardware with OZO Virtual Reality Camera

Nokia just debuted OZO, its $60,000 virtual reality camera and the first hardware product the company has made since it sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft in 2014. OZO was productized by Dolby Laboratories veteran Ramzi Haidamus, hired by Nokia in July 2014 to figure out the future of its hardware division. When Haidamus saw an early prototype of the virtual reality camera, he says, he was sold on the idea of developing it. He declined to say how many OZOs Nokia has sold thus far.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, although Haidamus called that early prototype “very ugly,” the newly debuted OZO is “a sleek, gray, cantaloupe-size sphere with eight lenses inside it,” ready to use out of the box with integrated cameras and microphones. That contrasts with a jerry-rigged VR camera that often consists of “seven GoPro cameras on a rig, while pointing the lenses in different directions.”

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Haidamus reports that the OZO is aimed at professional filmmakers, and that Nokia will later “introduce cheaper versions of the camera for hobbyists.” He also says that the current problem of consistent seamless transition between OZO image sensors will be solved by a software update by the end of 2016.

Gartner analyst Brian Blau predicts that more than one million VR and AR headsets will be sold this year. “There’s a possibility that it could grow quickly,” Blau said, “but that could be five or 10 years before it will be ubiquitous.”

Digital Trends reports that Nokia will partner with Deluxe for “high quality post-production services for OZO VR content, including editorial, stitching, and color.”

“OZO enables the creation of immersive virtual reality experiences that actually move us emotionally, and move us to act,” Haidamus said. “Through OZO we can feel more present in the lives of people we’ve never met, and widen the circle of empathy in ways we could never have imagined before. Technology that moves us this deeply is technology that moves us all forward.”