Nokia is no stranger to change. It started life as a pulp mill and spent a while as a rubber company making gas masks and wellies, before capturing the hearts of dumbphone users everywhere with phones like the 3310. So it kind of makes sense that Nokia is branching out, with its next Big Thing coming in the form of is a £40,000 all-in-one solution for making VR experiences.
The Ozo camera was first teased back in July, but now we’ve got all the details: it’s a ball studded with eight 2K-by-2K cameras, each the same distance apart as the human eyeball. Because audio is ‘at least half’ of the VR experience, there’s the same number of microphones.
All that combines to create a genuine 360-degree field of view, with fully immersive audio to match. But the real magic isn’t just capturing the images: the Ozo assembles the feeds from the cameras together in real time, allowing for VR livestreams. If you want to save the footage for later, an onboard (removable) SSD can do that too.
If that sounds like a lot of pro-level features, you’d be right: at $60,000 (£39,788) without accessories, this is something for production companies with money to splash. But it’s also the first real out-of-the-box solution for live VR. Companies like Lytro, GoPro and Jaunt have already built 360-degree VR rigs, but none of them can offer the instant VR experience that Ozo is selling.
It actually makes sense that Nokia is the first company to (ostensibly) pull this off: Ozo is really a close integration between non-standard optics, audio, and software, built into a sleek software package. Before it sold out to Microsoft, Nokia was known for building stellar cameraphones with software smarts to match. Hopefully this time around, the play works out.
Ozo is available for pre-order now, with delivery in Q1 2016. Give it a few months for companies to start playing with these things, set your VR headset up just right, and get ready for the virtual reality onslaught. [Nokia]