Is 360 video the next big fail after 3D video? 7 reasons why we don’t think so

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Some industry analysts and journalists are approaching 360 video with scepticism, fearing another 3D TV moment.

Here are seven reasons why we think 360 video is here to stay:

1.      (User generated) content is king

Adoption of new video technologies is often driven by user generated content.  Only Panasonic and Fuji made any real attempt to create cameras to easily capture 3D content. Already we have seen multiple entrants into the 360 camera market such as Nikon, Ricoh, Kodak, GoPro, Giroptic, Samsung and LG to name a few.


From dedicated units to rigs capable of mounting multiple cameras, such as the design offered by Facebook. The cameras are already in the hands of consumers and professionals alike.

2.      A more intuitive user interface

In order to view the 3D content, consumers had to invest in new (and expensive) TV sets, or dedicated viewing devices. Whilst arguably the most compelling experience for 360 video can be had with a VR headset, a tablet with a touch pan and scan view is very immersive (as illustrated by the Imagination demo below) and uses technologies that a large number of consumers have available to them today.

3.      Glasses are optional

The wearing of glasses was virtually mandatory for 3D (save for a few auto-stereoscopic displays which tended to be low resolution and quality). However, wearing glasses for 360 video is purely optional!


4.      VR is not (only) gaming

VR needs more than gaming to be successful.  Many companies are pushing VR, and will be looking for as many reasons as possible to make it compelling for consumers and businesses – 360 video is one such application.


5.      The infrastructure is already there

At the time of 3D, most TV sets were limited to 1080P.  Especially for passive glasses, this gave users half resolution and a very poor experience.  The infrastructure for 360 video is already in place, with 4K at 60 fps capable tablets and displays widely available, with VR headsets rapidly arriving.


Would 3D have fared better if we had started out with 4K capable sets for 3D? Something we will never know.

6.      Facebook and YouTube are already backing it

Multiple social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook are putting their weight behind 360 video (including giving away the hardware design) whilst 3D video only had limited support from the content ecosystem.


7.      360 video goes beyond mobile and the living room

There are multiple other applications for 360, such as surround view for automotive, medical training and surveillance to name but a few.


Imagination has created multiple technologies within its PowerVR family which enable our SoC customers to create compelling solutions for 360 video products.

Our PowerVR imaging processors (ISPs) are capable of dealing with multiple sensors simultaneously, vastly reducing bandwidth and power requirements. Multiple outputs enable scaled outputs with appropriate processing.

Our PowerVR high quality H.264 and H.265 encoders are capable of dealing with the high resolution and increased frame rate requirements of 360 video, whilst minimising the bit rate required by using our high quality H.265 solution.

Finally, the PowerVR GPU family is optimized to deliver sustained computer vision-related compute capability, allowing for seamless stitching and processing of video streams.

For more news and announcements from Imagination, follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationTech, @GPUCompute and @PowerVRInsider).

Chris Longstaff

Chris Longstaff

Chris has held various roles in the electronics industry, staying closely focused on video and display throughout, working for companies such as Leitch (Harris), C-Cube/LSI Logic, and ATI (AMD/Broadcom). Chris joined Imagination in 2007 and is responsible for the planning and promotion of the company's PowerVR Video and Vision technologies.

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