Earlier this year, YouTube rolled out 360-degree videos. Like magic, they let you peer around in any direction from within the video. Now, one company is taking that futuristic video-viewing from your computer — and bringing it to your much bigger TV screen.
Today, Littlstar, a Disney-funded VR service, announced it's bringing 360-degree videos to televisions using Apple TV. It has brought VR and 360-degree videos on a bunch of platforms — including mobile apps, Samsung Gear VR, and now, Apple TV — so there are thousands of already existing videos in the library that you can watch on your TV.
Littlstar's partnered with big names like National Geographic, the Wall Street Journal, Mountain Dew, and Showtime. Huge brands contribute content, but Littlstar also curates good stuff from individual users or smaller outfits, too.
Using your Siri Remote's track pad, you can gawk around the world within the video, picking up on something new each time. 360-degrees are wild and a game changer because they make you feel like you're really there, and like VR, they shift the power from the camera and the director to you, the viewer. You decide what to look at, where to look, and for how long.
Littlstar launched in 2014 and billed itself as the world's first online community for 360-degree, panoramic and VR video. It's gone through Disney Accelerator, an incubator that helps tech startups succeed in the entertainment space.
In this five-minute mini documentary from the Wall Street Journal, you follow a professional ballerina rehearsing in the studio. (Being able to smoothly track the fast-moving dancer with minimal frame rate glitches is pretty impressive, by the way!) And then you watch her from your balcony seat at New York's Lincoln Center theatre. National Geographic, meanwhile, sticks you in the middle of the majestic Yellowstone State Park. In another popular video, Wargames, publisher of the massively multiplayer online title World of Tanks, places you in a reenactment of a 1941 WWII tank battle.
It makes sense that Littlstar, or companies like it, want to bring 360-degree videos — 2D VR, essentially — to TVs. As entertainment media has splintered and fragmented into a trillion different services the last few years, tech companies and content creators have been trying to figure out how to bring internet-centric services like Netflix to the comforts of a big TV set that you can watch from your couch. Products like Apple TV bring streaming video from your internet browser to your television, and online gaming platform Steam recently ventured into the living room with its brand new physical console.
Entertainment and journalism are two of the most exciting spaces for VR and 360-degree technology to go crazy in. Today, your TV set — tomorrow, a movie theatre? We're hoping, and waiting.