In what may herald the begining of a new era in online streaming, YouTube is rolling out 360 degree livestreaming support across its services. The company has also launched spatial audio for on demand YouTube videos. The integration will take immersive technologies upon the platform to an all new level.
We are all familiar with the nuances of both live streaming and 360 degree technology. While the first lets user stream videos in real time, the second allows recording in 360 degrees, provided you have a special camera fitted out to record these videos.
However, this is actually the first time that the services have been combined and launched at this scale.
Announcing the launch of the services, the company said,
These days, virtual reality and 360-degree video can help get you one step closer to actually being at those places and in those moments. Today, we’re taking immersive video even further with 360-degree live streaming on YouTube.
The company will kick off the service with the 360-degree live streaming of the Coachella music festival this year. The fest has been livestreamed by YouTube for a few years now, however this is the first time that fans will be able to delight themselves with an immersive, 360 degree experience.
The best thing about the technolgy — and the one area other than livestream capabilities, where it has an edge over VR — is the fact that all the extra effort takes place at the creators end, who may also need to buy a special camera if they already dont own one. As far as the comsumers are concerned, there is no extra investment in headsets or anything else involved.
The videos can be watched upon virtually any device, including your desktop, tablet, iOS or even Android.
YouTube has also unveiled spatial audio, which adds another star to the company’s bid of providing a real time experience to its users. Basically, spatial audio is to your ears what VR is to your eyes.
Spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance and intensity all play a role.
The tech was first adapted at scale by Google, which has since then integrated it with its VR headsets. At YouTube, spatial audio will at present be available only for on-demand videos and not for live videos. However we expect the company to eventually introduce it for live streams as well.
The company is also working hard to ensure that its technologies are adapted by everyone, from other companies to the masses. While the likes of VideoStitch and Two Big Ears will soon be compatible with 360-degree live streams or spatial audio on YouTube and will be able to launch streams with specific content, YouTube has also encouraged creators unable to buy the tech needed for creating 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio content, to work at the various YouTube Spaces spread through the world.
That should certainly help creators who are interested in 360 degree livestreaming but are unable or unwilling to invest heavily in the apparatus required. Meanwhile, YouTube has also announced the Live API service which will let camera manufacturers send 360-degree live streams to the service.
The move is bound to be welcomed as it will eventually lead to an increase in options — and a decrease in the investment required, hopefully — for creators seriously interested in harnessing the technology.
Meanwhile, YouTube is probably hoping to get a boost to its numbers through the addition. While it is too early ro say if the company’s hopes will pan out, there really is no reason to expect otherwise. People love new things, and when those new things include watching stuff as if it was happening right in front of you, well, why wont they love the service?
As the company aptly summed up a few of the potential applications of the new tech in its blog post,
Students can now experience news events in the classroom as they unfold. Travelers can experience faraway sites and explorers can deep-sea dive, all without the physical constraints of the real world. And today’s kids dreaming of going to a basketball game or a concert can access those experiences firsthand, even if they’re far away from the court.
So yes, it is pretty awesome. Meanwhile, we will have to wait for the weekend when the first 360 degree livestream for the Coachella music fest rolls out, to know more about the features as well as the public response.