Nokia Is Betting On VR Making It In Hollywood

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Former mobile phone maker Nokia has professional filmmakers in its sights with a new piece of camera hardware it’s been cooking up since early 2013. After teasing its plans this summer, the Finnish firm has today confirmed a forthcoming pro level VR camera that’s suitable for live broadcast.

The camera, called Ozo, is up for pre-order, bearing a $60,000 price-tag and a shipping date of Q1 next year. The teardrop-shaped device will capture 360° spherical video and 360×360 surround sound to create immersive content for viewing via VR devices. Nokia is dubbing it “the first Virtual Reality camera system specifically designed for professional production”.

The video sensor array on the Ozo consists of eight 2k x 2k sensors, each with a 195° field of view, yielding a full 360° x 180° video coverage area and recording at 30 fps. It’s designed to be mounted on standard video camera tripod kit and is battery powered for wireless operation. A zeitgeisty Nokia promo shot also shows it attached to the underside of a drone.

Nokia Ozo on a drone

Ozo’s design incorporates a removable digital cartridge at the back, which supports around 45 minutes of recording and saves all video and audio to a single file. It also houses the rechargeable battery pack. A VR render is outputted live from the device for monitoring footage in real-time.

We’ve seen a few startups trying their hand at spherical cameras in recent years — such as the likes of Samsung-backed Bublcam, a rather more affordable but lower tech option (at circa $800). Action camera maker GoPro is also eyeing the space. But for its initial foray into VR cameras Nokia is concentrating efforts far from such consumer-focused competitors.

It’s fair to say that the broadcasting industry is going to need to be creating a steady pipeline of compelling VR content if there’s to be any chance of virtual reality technology transforming from a niche pastime for geeks into a regular mass market entertainment medium. And that’s the high end content-focused bet Nokia is making with Ozo.

The company is drawing on a long history of camera expertise honed during its mobile making years — including a 41MP PureView smartphone camera that caused a splash back in 2012.