Thursday, July 30, 2009

Immersive video yet to make its mark

When Google first released its StreetView add-on to Google Map it immediately caught attention of millions despite being quite rudimentary. The concept was not new. I remember viewing a very similar application for Miami a few years earlier. I can't find a link to that site but it was very impressive, with much smoother transitions between the scenes and better quality of images. Yet StreetView predecessor barely registered on the Internet.

Not many may know that Google was also experimenting with video equivalent of what is now StreetView scenes. It was one of those "jaw dropping" technologies that so far did not make to the big league. The 360 degree navigation of streaming video is quite impressive yet Google decided do abandon this capability. I suspect there were at least two reasons -the volume of data that would be required for movie-like StreetView of the entire world and potential difficulties in dealing with privacy issues (ie. lack of capability of blurring efficiently faces and number plates, and blocking individual scenes, which is much easier with static images). And then there is also a possibility of adding more functionality to interact with static images (street names and symbolic directions, merging StreetView with other imagery on the Internet, etc. ) but I think it was more an afterthought rather than a planned end game from day one.

[video courtesy of; click and scroll the mouse to look in any direction!]

Not all "exciting new technologies" make it big because of too cautious approach from its creators, or lack of practical use, or not enough luck with investors, strategic mistakes or else. Potential users of those technologies are not rational either, as we all know from the outcome of the battle between VHS and Beta video systems, so not always "the best one" wins. It will be interesting to watch whether immersive video technology can make it to the mainstream of consumer electronics (eg as cameras enabling capturing 360 degree video images) and consumer applications (eg. like online sightseeing, real estate house demonstrations, etc). For now though, the battle is brewing between Miscosoft's Photosynth and Googles StreetView for the online interactive imagery viewing capabilities.


UnderCam said...

Well put, Arek. 360° Video did not take off after Google Map's Street View. Likely because nobody realized that the supporting initial imagery came from video, but also for many of the reasons you mention.

There are organizations with focused approaches to specialized markets, my current favorite is called MATIvision. They have an incredible integration of multiple 360° video cameras used to deliver events to online attendees (mostly live music). Take a look at
For updates on the world of 360°Interactive Video check in to
FYI: I'm not seeing the videos that you embedded into your blog and credit to Immersive Media. Maybe check the embed code or grab one from (seem to work better for some reason) where many of IM's videos are sorted by theme.

Arek said...

Thanks Thomas for the info. Very impressive, indeed! It looks there are many different ways to achieve the effect. Screening with Flash can support extended interactivity so, that's probably the most attractive distribution option.

I replaced videos as per your suggestion since those selected initially did not work in Internet Explorer.

Ciacesco said...
immersive Vids from Germany

Mwameme said...

Ever seen this website? Streetview in full motion immersive video!