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YouTube Looking To Add Live-Streaming Feature For 360 Videos

February 2, 2016 - Written By Diego Macias

virtual reality is clearly here to stay. More tech companies are making their own VR headsets with more advanced features and innovative ways to control them. Google has been updating some of their apps and services to support Google Cardboard, which is a basic VR headset powered by a smartphone. Still, without the appropriate amount of content, the technology won’t take off. Some companies have already released cameras capable of recording 360-degree video and more are expected to become available during the year. These types of videos certainly benefit from the more intuitive controls of VR headsets.

YouTube has supported 360-degree videos for a while now, and as of last March Google added support for this new format. In June, the company added support for Google Cardboard and by November, these videos could be watched in 3D, so they provided a more immersive experience. This past month, the company hired a “Global VR Evangelist”, so he could invite those interested in this kind of videos to create more content. Now, the company wants to add live streaming capabilities of 360-degree videos to YouTube, but it’s certainly no simple task. Currently, the cameras that are able to live stream videos in this format doesn’t offer much quality, as they are just meant to show camera operators a sense of what they’re capturing.

Since the cameras that capture 360-degree videos use several cameras to capture them and then stitch them together to make them look seamless, live streaming this content would need the stitching to happen in real time. If YouTube tried to add this capability, it would receive material from several camera models from different brands. This makes it difficult to know the specs on each of them and how they behave while recording their content, so a potential solution would be to create some standard specs along 360-degree camera manufacturers. Another way to solve this would be to create stitching software for videos coming from all of the different cameras. Finally, there are a few cameras capable of doing the stitching locally, so YouTube could offer live streaming capabilities to those cameras only, at least at the beginning, since the other two options seem more difficult. There’s no official confirmation from YouTube about any of this, but multiple sources close to YouTube’s future plans stated that they have been meeting with 360-degree camera makers to make this feature possible.