The Nokia Ozo uses eight cameras and eight microphones to record high-resolution immersive video and audio. Credit: Nokia
Sixty thousand dollars, and the first quarter next year: those were the details missing at Nokia's July unveiling of the Ozo 360-degree video camera.
Nokia calls the Ozo a virtual reality camera, but this is something of a misnomer: If you're shooting video, there's nothing virtual about the reality depicted, and what you're recording is immersive video.
The Ozo has a spherical field of view, with eight 2K-by-2K image sensors and eight microphones that record direct to a proprietary flash storage device. Its 500GB capacity is enough to store 45 minutes of video and audio, according to Nokia. The flash storage costs US$2,500.
The $60,000 price might seem high, even for a camera with a spherical field of view, but some alternatives are even pricier. For example, money can't buy the Jaunt Neo, launched in June, as it is only available for rental, not purchase.
GoPro's Odyssey will be more affordable at $15,000. It's an array of 16 of the company's Hero4 HD video cameras held in a ring by a special mounting block, and can only shoot cylindrical, not truly spherical, video.
At the lower end of the scale, pocket-sized cameras like the Bublcam from Bubl Technology deliver 1984-by-992-pixel spherical images at 30fps for $799.
Without a convenient way to watch their output, such cameras were of little interest, but since both Google and Facebook announced their support for 360-degree video, they're starting to draw attention.
Factor in the availability of wearable displays such as Samsung Electronics' Gear VR, the Oculus Rift or even Google's Cardboard, which allow viewers to choose which part of the scene to view simply by turning their head, and the market for all-around cameras is set for take-off.
Both Nokia and GoPro tout the ready availability of software tools for editing 360-degree videos -- anything running on Mac OS X for the Ozo, after the video has been run through Nokia's Ozo Creator app to translate the proprietary files into standard formats, and Google's Jump video assembler for the Odyssey.
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