Google has pioneered a new format for panoramic photography, called VR180, and is currently running a contest that will end with an entrant working with Google to immortalize some place, experience, or person that’s dear to them in the new format. The way that the contest works is deceptively simple, and requires almost no real work on the entrants’ part; simply tell Google a story of a memory or place that’s special to you in an unlisted YouTube video, along with some small details and ideas about how to capture it, and Googlers will get together to pick a story as the winner. After that, the company will send specialists out to the winner to shoot that special location onsite with a VR180 camera, and document the entire affair. The contest ends on February 16, 2018.
VR180, pioneered by Google VR chief Clay Bavor, is the company’s effort to bridge the gap between traditional and VR-friendly photography by providing a simple, easy-to-use solution that allows the average person to preserve a memory in an immersive format. VR180 cameras, of which there are currently only two types, have two lenses that are the same distance apart as the average set of human eyes, and have roughly the same field of vision. The idea is to have the camera see in the same way a human does, producing a 3-dimensional panoramic picture that can be viewed in a VR headset to place the viewer at the scene as if they were actually there. Naturally, shooting videos is possible, as well.
The two VR cameras currently out are the Lenovo Mirage Camera, and YI Horizon 180 Camera. Both of these are capable of taking Daydream-compatible recordings and photos, which can also be viewed in 2D. They can upload directly to Google Photos and YouTube, or pass photos and videos to your phone via the VR180 app, allowing you to manage them in any way you please. As an added bonus, the Lenovo Mirage Camera can pair up with the Lenovo Mirage Solo Daydream headset to stream content directly from the camera to the headset, a fairly novel approach to immersive telepresence.