Humaneyes' Vuze 360° 3-D camera aims to give consumers and content makers cheap and easy entry into true VR.

VR Camera Exec Expects Consumer Cameras, Content to Trend in 2018

VR has yet to find its “iPhone moment.”

Tech pundits have been forecasting the imminent mainstream breakthrough of VR for half a decade now. Despite the truly revolutionary potential that a new landscape of vivid, fully interactive virtual worlds might have for society, VR’s mainstream success has been resoundingly underwhelming.  Widely marketed headset offerings such as Facebook’s OculusRift, HTC’s Vive and Sony’s PSVR systems⎯and a growing base of content providers⎯have yet to create widespread adoption of VR.

Given the corporate and developmental interest in new VR tech and the excitement of what viable VR might bring society, however, it seems an inevitability⎯and one VR executive thinks 2018 might finally see wider interest, driven by a new generation of affordable cameras to produce VR videos.

Jim Malcolm, North American General Manager for VR camera company Humaneyes, recently wrote an article published in VentureBeat about how a new generation of VR cameras capable of capturing 3-D, 360° footage will help to ease the barrier of entry for VR content acquisition and spurn growth in the industry in the coming year, perhaps leading to  what he describes as VR’s long-awaited “YouTube revolution.” Malcolm proposes that in addition to lack of public adoption of costly and imperfect VR headsets, one of the problems preventing wider VR proliferation is a lack of VR cameras tailored for use by consumers and “prosumers,” a problem his company sought to address with the 2017 launch of the Vuze camera, “the first consumer-focused VR video camera with a price below $1,000.”

Of course, Malcolm has a vested interest in proposing that a new generation of affordable 360°, 3-D capable cameras (such as the one he makes, coincidentally) will revolutionize the broader industry, but it does seem like a logically sound argument: while many analysts see headset technology as the primary hurdle to VR adoption, Malcolm posits instead that it’s VR content and the ability to affordably create it that is holding back VR. In past years, according to Malcolm, “full 3D 360-degree VR was limited to those with deep pockets,” limited by the price to “the domain of movie studios and Silicon Valley startups […] remaining wildly out of reach for office and home users.”

Additionally, Malcolm highlights consumer confusion between different kinds of cameras and content as a remaining obstacle, noting that buyers can be confused by the differences between fully immersive 3-D 360°/180° cameras suited for true VR and the plethora of new cameras with only standard 2D capability, especially given that “there are cameras on the market that support all of these options” and that “some companies are lending to this confusion” by inaccurately describing 2-D cameras with 360°/180° fields of views as capable of producing VR-ready footage.

Given today’s video-centric social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Vimeo and YouTube, as well as increasing use of conventional 360°  video support, the next year might finally see content creators and consumers alike finally starting to adopt true VR with the advent of the Vuze and competing devices, but Malcolm concludes that the quickest way to ensure this is to empower creators by removing price and performance obstacles as well as “maintain[ing] standards” in marketing to lessen the confounding array of confusing terms and specs.

Read Malcolm’s article in its entirety at VentureBeat for more analysis and the full story.