YouTube Announces Live-Streaming 360-Degree Video & Spatial Audio

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a1Content, content, content… That’s what many virtual reality enthusiasts are waiting for.  Although there are plenty of games launching with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets this month, a lack of content is somewhat holding the industry back.  Google understands this and has been pushing VR content heavily on their popular video asset, YouTube, but today’s announcement may take things to the next level.

This afternoon YouTube announced that they are rolling out live-streaming 360-degree video.  While this content will not yet be available in stereoscopic view for consumption on VR headsets, it will be soon.  In addition to being able to live-stream 360-degree content, such as sporting events and concerts, partners and other content creators on YouTube will also be able to add in spatial audio.  Spatial audio provides a more immersive experience by presenting sound based on its location to the user within a VR environment.  If a drummer is behind you several feet playing the drums, the sound will be different than if they were directly in front of you.

“Starting today, we’re also launching spatial audio for on-demand YouTube videos,” wrote Neal Mohan, Senior VP, Display and Video Ads at Google on the YouTube blog. “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. Try out this playlist on your Android device.”

What makes this news even more exciting for VR headset users is that it will be absolutely free and relatively easy to access.

“As a user, you don’t need to do anything,” explained Mohan. “Open the YouTube app on your mobile device or launch it on the web and you’re ready to go. There is no fancy technology to purchase or integrate.”

Because of the higher quality video demanded by users who wish to experience virtual reality, YouTube has also made it possible for content creators to upload video that has a resolution of up to 1440p and a frame rate of 60 frames per second.  While YouTube first launched 360-degree video back in March of 2015, it wasn’t until late last year and early this year that such video content began to take off as affordable VR headsets such as Google Cardboard began shipping to users.  The ability to live stream such content, once in stereoscopic format, could have an even bigger impact on the VR space as demand for content continues to rise.  As new partners come on board it will not be totally out of the question to see live professional sporting events aired in VR format, free of charge and supported by advertising.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this move by Google in the YouTube Live-Streaming 360-Degree Video forum on VRTalk.com.