April 19, 2016
YouTube has begun supporting 360-degree live streaming video and spatial audio. Google has supported 360-degree video since last year and spatial audio in the Cardboard since January via the company’s VR platform. This announcement broadens that support to the main YouTube platform. For YouTube creators, all that’s required is a camera that captures 360 video. From the end-user perspective, there’s no extra technology or headsets required to watch 360-degree live streams. The videos will play on any device, including desktop, tablet, iOS and Android.
One of the first videos to take advantage of this more immersive format will be this year’s live stream from music event Coachella, where select performances from the festival will now be live streamed in 360 degrees.
At launch, spatial audio is only available for on-demand videos, not live videos, and is also limited to Android smartphones used with headphones.
To make support for both 360 live streams and spatial audio possible, YouTube has been working with camera and software vendors, including VideoStitch, Two Big Ears, ALLie, Vahana VR and Orah 4i.
“YouTube says it’s also opening up its ‘Live API,’ which will allow any camera manufacturer interested in 360 the ability to use YouTube’s Live Streaming API to send 360-degree live streams to the service,” reports TechCrunch. “This addresses the questions raised around industry adoption — that is, how YouTube plans to support the different manufacturers and solutions on the market today.”
Creators will be able to try the technologies at all YouTube Space locations worldwide, including Los Angeles, New York, London and Tokyo.
There are a growing number of consumer 360 VR cameras coming onto the market in the $300-$800 range. They often come with stitching software and work with common video editing packages. Because the 360 videos play on hardware that consumers already have, there is no barrier to consumers trying them. If 360 videos start going viral, this could drive rapid audience growth for base-level VR experiences, and establish a market for more professional, revenue-generating VR experiences.