By Carol Trehearn

In the 1950’s, the advent of the commercially available television revolutionised the entertainment industry.

People no longer had to go to theatres to enjoy video – it was like the greatest thing since sliced bread. In today’s era, it is tough to achieve an innovation that is as ground breaking for today’s culture as the TV was for the 50’s, but 360-degree video and virtual reality (VR) are coming very close to doing just that. In case you’ve been living inside of a rock located outside of the loop, 360-video lets you look around and see the entire panorama as the video is playing. This type of recording is essential for the development of VR simulations, games, and films. Here are just a few ways 360-video is set to change entertainment as we know it:

Watching Sports and Games in 360-degrees

Perhaps the most exciting application of 360-degree video that we’ve seen thus far would be the recording and playback of sports events and other games. For example, a number of poker leagues have featured events in 360-video, giving you an inside look at the game from the centre of the table and other angles that you normally wouldn’t have access to. The ability to pause and look around within a scene really adds an excellent dynamic to sports and game-related entertainment that we’ve previously only seen in edited replays and highlights.

Traveling and Exploring Virtual Worlds

We’ve had aerial views and 3D video for a while, but none of that can really capture an entire place in full detail the way a 360-degree video can. Imagine being able to go to a specific place in an exotic landscape that you’ve never seen before and look around at the environment in high definition. This technology could literally take travel content to new heights and inspire more tourism worldwide. Some speculate that it could also reduce physical travel rates because people would suddenly have a virtual alternative to an actual vacation. Chances are it will inspire people to visit the real place rather than serve as a permanent substitute, and will probably make a nice pastime with virtual tourism sites.

Making Media an Interactive Experience

The ability to interact with the scene and feel like you’re actually there is what sets 360-video apart from 3D images coming out of a 2D screen. When you view a 360-degree video that also has 3D imagery and you’re using a VR headset, that is the most immersive and intense entertainment session you can possibly have. While all of that might sound like next generation techie jargon, it’s exciting that all of this is on the verge of not only being commercially available but also optimized through extensive development that has been going on for a few years now.

Tech Giants Paving the Way

We’re seeing Samsung working on smartphones that double as VR headsets, Google making VR headsets out of cardboard, Facebook partnering with Oculus, and even game consoles launching their own versions of VR. When you look at the companies involved in making this push into VR/360 video, the names that come up make it easy to believe that this really will be the next “big thing” in entertainment.