YouTube gets a VR makeover with 360-degree live video, spatial audio

YouTube is rolling out new features that allow video creators to live-stream in 360 degrees.

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Image: Google/YouTube

YouTube is rolling out a number of changes to its platform today, which will allow anyone with a 360-degree camera to live-stream events.

The new feature on YouTube could be an important stepping stone to taking immersive video mainstream. The launch is timed to coincide with this weekend's Coachella music festival, where some performances will be live-streamed in 360 degrees for the first time.

It's the first service to launch 360-degree live-streaming and arrives alongside the launch of spatial audio on YouTube, which promises to blast sound from all directions "just as in the real world".

"Just as watching a concert in 360 degrees can give you an unmatched immersive experience, spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance, and intensity all play a role," YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan said in a blog post.

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The company has created a YouTube playlist to show off the two new features, which can be done from an Android device.

According to The Verge, YouTube is also now accepting content at 1440p and 60 frames per second to support live 360-streaming, as well as enabling support for DASH and VP9 ingestion to reduce the size of data transmissions required for a super high-quality stream.

It also notes that live 360-streaming doesn't support spatial audio or 3D video.

The 360 live-streaming comes just over a year after YouTube rolled out 360-degree video, which YouTube points out is being used by musicians, brands, and athletes. Mohan sees opportunities for 360-degree storytelling in classrooms, sports arenas, and in the context of travel.

As far as end users go, they won't need to make any additional investments in hardware to view live 360-degree content, such as Facebook's $600 Oculus Rift, or Samsung's Gear headset.

This position is in line with Google's approach to VR with its low-cost Google Cardboard, which as of November could be used to view VR video on YouTube.

YouTube creators can also shoot in 360 degrees for about $350, even though there are high-end professional units such as the $17,000 prototype that Facebook recently revealed at its F8 conference.

As noted by The Verge, creators can shoot with 360-degree cameras such as the $350 Ricoh Theta, the $500 ALLie, and the $1,800 Orah 4i.

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To view live 360-degree content on YouTube, you can use Google's low-cost Google Cardboard.

Image: Google

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