Nokia debuts Ozo 360-degree VR camera for professional filmmakers

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The pupa that is Nokia — the portion not gobbled up by Microsoft last year — emerged from its cocoon on Tuesday bearing a high-end 360-degree camera called Ozo, a product targeting the nascent virtual reality content creation industry.

As detailed by The Verge, which was on hand for tonight's unveiling, Ozo is a spherical camera setup fitted with eight image sensors and an equal number of microphones capable of recording 360-degree, stereoscopic 3D views of the world.

Unlike other current VR camera systems, Nokia's platform was designed with the professional filmmaker in mind. Importantly, Ozo delivers live monitoring so a director or DP can get instant feedback on scene composition, lighting and more through a VR headset. Another key feature is rapid playback. Existing systems normally take hours to weave data from multiple sensors together to create a cohesive VR experience, but Ozo does the same task in minutes by initially outputting at a lower resolution.

"OZO aims to advance the next wave of innovation in VR by putting powerful tools in the hands of professionals who will create amazing experiences for people around the world," said Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies. "We expect that virtual reality experiences will soon radically enhance the way people communicate and connect to stories, entertainment, world events and each other. With OZO, we plan to be at the heart of this new world."

After filming and post-production, content can be made available for consumption on commercially available headsets like Oculus Rift. Jaunt, a VR production company based in Palo Alto, Calif., pledged initial support for Ozo, saying it will offer the camera at its studios and provide post-production services.

Final Ozo pricing will be announced this fall when the product is expected to ship.

A number of big tech companies are dabbling in the VR space, including Apple competitor Samsung. Apple owns multiple patents covering virtual reality hardware and software, but has not publicly announced plans to release a commercial solution. The most recent evidence of Apple's interest in VR came in February when the company posted job listings looking for hardware and software engineers interested in building virtual reality displays.