Exclusive: Gear 360 virtual reality camera is real, to accompany the Galaxy S7
Only a few weeks ago, the first hints pointing to a new 360 degree camera named Gear 360 surfaced. Now, with only a few weeks until Samsung’s next big Unpacked event, we can exclusively confirm the Gear 360 VR camera is real, and coming soon.
The Gear 360, likely an offshoot of Samsung’s Project Beyond, is a compact spherical camera capable of capturing 360 degree imagery using two 180 degree fisheye lenses. It can pair with a phone via Bluetooth, through the Gear 360 Connect application. The device might work with recent Galaxy flagship devices, though for now we can only confirm Galaxy S7 compatibility.
The Gear 360 (SM-C200) has its own battery, so it does not need to be connected to an external power source. Also, the device packs an unknown amount of onboard storage.
Software-wise, the package includes the Gear 360 Gallery, and a seperate remote viewfinder application. In the latter we find all the usual camera features: HDR, exposure control, white balance and ISO settings, a Liveview option, and the ability to switch between recording a 360 (dual lens) or 180 degree (single lens) front or rear view. Other view types include a mode called VR view, dual view, panoramic view, and time lapse and looping video. Maximum resolution seems to be 3840 x 1920 pixels when shooting in dual lens mode, or 1920 x 1920 pixels in single lens mode.
It is possible to watch the Gear 360’s video feed live on a connected phone, though we can not confirm the possibility to stream video to other devices. Whether streaming directly to a phone that is docked in a Gear VR is possible remains unconfirmed for now.
With the Gear 360 Samsung is once more expanding its presence in the fast-growing VR market. The Gear VR headset brought virtual reality content to a large audience at a very attractive price point. The Gear 360 could seriously lower the threshold for VR content creation, to the point where ordinary users can capture their holiday experiences as a full 360 degree immersive VR experience. Of course, how low that threshold will be, depends entirely on the pricing of the device. Unfortunately, no information regarding the Gear 360’s price is available to us at this moment.
We do, however, expect the camera to make its debut back to back with the Galaxy S7 on February 21. And considering the quantity of information already available about the new flagship phones, we would not be surprised to see the Gear 360 take centre stage, rather than play the role of modest sidekick. After all, Samsung is explicitly hinting at VR in its brand new Unpacked teaser video.