360-degree photography and VR are breaking new ground, not just in gaming but also in business. Leading companies are finding that a more immersive experience pulls their users in.
Some of the world’s biggest players, such as General Motors and McDonald’s, are getting serious about VR and 360-degree technology, building new products and VR experiences for their customers. For example, if you stop by a McDonald’s in Sweden, you can turn your Happy Meal into a pair of virtual reality goggles. Just slide your smartphone into the specially folded box and you can play a game where you hit the ski slopes.
Last year, I declared VR was not quite ready to explode, due to cost of the equipment, a gaping hole in available content, clunky headgear, and the financial viability of some early innovators. That prediction turned out to be true for most industries, with the exception of gaming. On the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sides, too many businesses are still viewing 360-degree photography and VR as bells or whistles they don’t need to think about yet, or ever.
That is a big mistake.
Virtual reality is the future of content consumption. There are huge wins waiting for businesses and photographers alike, if we are willing to get messy, creative, take some risks, and step into the future of visual storytelling.
Opportunities for content creators
Most exciting for me, as CEO of 500px, are the new opportunities these technologies create for photographers. The most creative and entrepreneurial photographers around the world now have a new chance to become experts before the field gets glutted. For these artists behind a lens, the ability to layer visual stories is one of the most exciting times in the photography industry’s recent history. As proof that 360-degree photography and VR are on the brink of being mainstream, just think of the new terminology being adopted. At Photokina last September, one Nikon photographer used the term “story worlds” to describe the possibilities of this new era.
The last time we saw a photographic shift of this magnitude, in the early 2000s, the introduction of the sub-$1,000 camera created a revolution in stock imagery and thousands of former hobbyists were able to turn their passions into new careers. But, as with all industries, maturity brought congestion, competition and higher prices. For a photographer or videographer, 360-degree…
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