Google Jumps on panoramic VR video

Today's Google I/O keynote was mostly about Android, but it also contained some interesting virtual-reality news. Google introduced Jump, a system for capturing and viewing 360° VR video.

GoPro's Jump camera rig. Source: Google

Jump comprises a camera, software assembler, and player. Well, make that multiple cameras. GoPro's Jump-compatible array arranges 16 Hero4 units on a radial rig. The cameras share common settings, and the captured videos are synchronized.

Footage from the array's individual cameras is stitched together by a software assembler that outputs "stereoscopic VR video." Google promises a "seamless panorama" in high fidelity. The output is "the equivalent of five 4k TVs playing at once," the company says, though only a fraction of the detail will presumably be visible within the user's field of view at any given moment.

As one might expect, the assembler is computationally intensive. Google says smooth stitching requires a "whole lot of computing power." It's unclear whether the process is feasible on modern desktop rigs.

Google plans to offer Jump content through YouTube. Given the bandwidth likely required by what amounts to a "20K" feed, I hope there's an option for saving videos locally.

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