Nikon, the Japanese multinational giant known for everything from simple point-and-shoots to some of the most sophisticated optics on the market, has built a 360 action camera capable of up to 4K UHD video and still images, dubbed KeyMission 360. Although footage from the camera appears to be good quality, albeit with a few stitching issues to sort out, the test footage raises some definite concerns about 360 action cams in general.
The dual-lens camera is Nikon’s first ever action cam. It’s shockproof up to 2m (6.6ft), waterproof up to 30m (100ft), resistant to dust and low temperatures—seemingly ideal for extreme sports. On-board WiFi and Bluetooth also come in the tiny ruggedized package. It’s meant to be kicked, dropped, and strapped onto anything—and that design philosophy is precisely why it won’t jive with VR headsets.
With a prolific camera manufacturer like Nikon focusing their attention on 360 video, there’s little doubt that the medium is quickly coming into its own. The market is positively humming with 360 action cams soon to launch, like 360fly, a single lens setup coming soon to Best Buy shelves. The little mountable 360 camera boasts that it will let you “share your life in fully immersive, interactive 360° HD video,” a clear grab for the attention of VR enthusiasts.
The market is being prepped for VR action cams, and although Nikon hasn’t said anything specifically about virtual reality in their promo material—and they have never uttered the phrase ‘VR camera’—the fact that these videos can be viewed directly on Google Cardboard, and likely will be by a large number of people on varying equipment, is worrying to say the least.
Some of test footage taken by Nikon can speak for itself.
All three videos would nauseate even the most hardened VR enthusiast if viewed in a headset, showing Keymission 360 mounted on helmets, bike racks, kayaks, and (finally) on a stable rock face—bringing their motives, and the market readiness for such 360 action cams into question.
Some precepts from the Oculus Best Practice Guide on Motion in VR may be a helpful way to deconstruct the videos above.
- The most comfortable VR experiences involve no self-motion for the user besides head and body movements to look around the environment.
- When self-motion is required, slower movement speeds (walking/jogging pace) are most comfortable for new users.
- Keep any form of acceleration as short and infrequent as possible.
- User and camera movements should never be decoupled.
- Don’t use head bobbing in first-person games.
- Experiences designed to minimize the need for moving backwards or sideways are most comfortable.
- Beware situations that visually induce strong feelings of motion, such as stairs or repeating patterns that move across large sections of the screen.
Now that you can watch 360 videos on YouTube and just recently directly on your Facebook newsfeed, we’re sure someone, somewhere will want to watch bumpy 360 videos of your biking trip to the Grand Canyon, but just not in a VR headset.
Unless, you know, you don’t do anything extreme with it. And isn’t that entirely missing the point?