In the coming weeks, Google will be adding support for 360-degree video uploads to YouTube.

360-degree video may seem like a distant gimmick – and who knows, maybe it will prove to be a short-lived fad – but the truth of the matter is that there are already a number of cameras available on the market that shoot in every direction.

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Some prime examples include the Bublcam, Ricoh Theta, Kodak SP360, the Panono and the Giroptic 360cam. Each of these cameras use multiple cameras to capture imagery and stitch them together for a 360-degree view through the use of special software.

The quality I’ve seen from most of these early cameras isn’t terribly impressive but that’ll no doubt improve over time, especially if the trend really takes off.

There are still plenty of unknowns at play – like how the video sharing site plans to present such clips – but given that we’re on the cusp of virtual reality going mainstream, things could get very interesting in the next couple of years.

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Imagine being able to view high-quality videos with something like an Oculus Rift or even Samsung’s Gear VR headset and have the freedom to freely explore the entire scene, not just what the camera is primarily focused on.

YouTube will undoubtedly have to come up with some sort of way for those without a VR headset to pan around a scene in real-time but that shouldn’t be too difficult a task (at least on platforms with a mouse like a desktop).

We should be hearing more on the subject in the next few weeks.