YI Technology and Google announced the YI Horizon VR180 camera at the latest iteration of the Consumer Electronics Show, having detailed an imaging tool with full support for the VR180 format the Alphabet-owned company introduced in mid-2017. The main purpose of the device is to provide users with a straightforward method for capturing high-resolution content meant to be experienced with a virtual reality headset. The VR180 format is presently supported by YouTube and Google Photos whose apps are compatible with Google's Cardboard and Daydream platforms, as well as Sony's PlayStation VR lineup and a number of third-party headsets. The content captured by the YI Horizon VR180 is also viewable in a 2D space, though its 3D video capabilities allowing you to record clips in a 5.7K resolution at 30 frames per second are its largest selling point.
Native stitching support is also part of the package, as is live streaming, both of which are meant to be highly automated in nature so as to allow users to focus on their framing instead of worrying about whether the camera is doing what they want it to. YI said it closely collaborated with Google on the YI Horizon VR180 but didn't provide any specific details in regards to what their partnership actually entailed. At the very least, Google presumably inspected the company's integration efforts and ensured the camera offers seamless support for its own apps. In practice, all you have to do to start streaming with the YI Horizon VR180 is press a single button, while monitoring your real-time footage is done via a 2.2-inch retina touchscreen with a 640 x 360 resolution. The device also boasts a microphone array with noise cancellation capabilities and a USB Type-C port. Like all other hardware introduced as part of the VR180 initiative, the newly unveiled camera can be controlled using Google's VR180 app for Android smartphones and tablets.
The YI Horizon VR180 still doesn't have a firm release date attached to it, with the company only saying its latest offering will be released in spring, i.e. the second quarter of the year. Pricing details are also an unknown but given its large focus on accessibility and YI's recent product practices, the camera is likely to be situated in the sub-$500 range. While the United States will be the first market to receive it, the YI Horizon VR180 should also be available on a global level later this year.