The 360-degree video market is ripe for the taking. YouTube enabled 360-degree video uploads back in March. Facebook revealed during the same month that it, too, is working to bring 360-degree spherical videos to the social network. Up to this point, however, there hasn't been much of a reason to get excited.
Virtual reality headsets are ideal for viewing 360-degree content but those aren't yet readily available - not high-quality ones, anyway. Sure, you can watch such footage on a regular desktop but who wants to do that?
Creating quality 360-degree video is quite the challenge. The handful of 360-degree cameras currently on the market are absolute garbage at best. Don't believe me? Check out some sample footage on YouTube.
"Professional" 360-degree videos are produced with rigs consisting of multiple cameras. The 16-camera setup that Google and GoPro are working on and the 24-camera system Facebook used to create 360-degree videos of its Menlo Park headquarters are both excellent examples. These rigs cost several thousand dollars to build but 360fly is aiming to launch its tennis ball-sized camera for $399 come August.
The quality won't be as good as you'd get from a custom rig made up of multiple individual cameras but based on the samples we've seen, it's much better than any other consumer offering at this point.
It'll use a single f/2.5 lens capable of looking in all directions at once. As a result, footage will be seamless as you won't be viewing something that has been stitched together in software. It will be able to record footage at a resolution of 1,504 x 1,504 at 30 frames per second with 360 degrees of horizontal view and 240-degrees of vertical view. A second-generation model is already in the works with support for 4K resolution recording, we're told.
The 1,600mAh battery is said to be able to record for up to two hours. Because it's also an "action camera," the 360fly is waterproof down to 16 feet and can operate safely in temperatures as low as -6 Fahrenheit and as hot as 250 degrees F.
Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 mean you'll be able to connect to a smartphone to edit and share on social media without needing a computer, a key feature according to CEO Peter Adderton.
The serial entrepreneur, known for founding Boost Mobile and later selling it to Sprint, could very well be onto something here with 360fly. It's still early days for virtual reality and 360-degree video recording but I expect both industries to explode in popularity over the next few years. If 360fly plays its cards right, it could very well become a market leader.