Immersive Video – the Next Big Thing?

3-D video is so 2009.  Now that virtually anyone with a couple of cameras (or a YouTube account) is capable of producing relatively decent 3-D videos, people are already starting to look for the Next Big Thing.

I think it’s going to be 360 degree immersive.  Like 3-D, some form of the technology has been around for some time – you can stand inside a 360-degree cinema in Arromanches, France, and experience D-Day almost like you were there yourself.  It takes some know-how to get all the timing correct, but a round screen and a bunch of cameras can do the trick nicely.  (I’m not sure how they got the video for it though!)

Then there are several new cameras that can take 360-degree panoramic shots. There’s the throwable ball camera, being developed in Berlin, which consists of foam, 36 cameras, and a bunch of accelerometers and gyros and who knows what else, to stitch the 36 images into a full 360-degree spherical panoramic photo.

The GoPano micro, recently funded on Kickstarter, is an attachment for your iPhone 4 that allows you to take 360-degree (in the horizontal dimension only, it looks like) video:

And this morning I tried out a new app for the iPad called Condition One.  If you’ve ever tried to snap a photo or take video of a landscape and realized there’s no way to accurately convey what you’re seeing on a flat screen, you’ll be able to appreciate this app.  Developed by photojournalists seeking to make more immersive documentaries, the idea is for you to watch a documentary (or other content, which will likely be licensed to use the app and then marketed to you separately) on your ipad, and you twist your body around to move the ipad in order to see the content from different angles.  I tried it out, and it works pretty smoothly.

Condition ONE Demo from Danfung Dennis on Vimeo.

But the big question for me is, where is all of this leading?  What happens if we combine gyros and accelerometers, immersive technology, and 3D technology?  Think about the video gaming industry.  Or virtual tourism.  How about a sort of “Second Life 3D” where people choose to spend more time than they do in reality?

You can be pretty sure someone’s already thought of all the above and is probably already working on it.  If the past few years are any indication, expect to see immersive 3D out shortly, if it’s not out there already.

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