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.

360fly camera coming exclusively to Best Buy
360fly camera coming exclusively to Best Buy

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?

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  • eadVrim

    No 3D = No VR

    • Full Name

      Right? don’t they need stereoscopic, so you also sense depth? In any case, I’m not a big fan of 360 video. Much better to have a virtual landscape you can freely move through.

    • Andy Blackburn

      Can’t you buy 2? They’re only 2.4 x 2.4 inches square.

  • I don’t see how the fact that this camera is rugged and the demo video is shaky invalidates it for shooting footage for VR. This is just marketing targeting the extreme sports set. Personally I don’t want my ~$1000 camera to be fragile. Bonus with waterproof to 100 feet, Aquarium VR!

  • Alan Convery

    umm, stick it on a camera gimbal and it looks pretty good for VR to me

    • Dominic Deane

      Was actually looking for a decent gimbals to attach to a spherical camera, any recommendations?

  • Dadamlarson

    Disclaimer: I work for Kodak PIXPRO on their 360 action cam

    Wouldn’t the best footage come from 1st person POV via head/helmet mounting?

    We’ve just released our 4K version and well-narrated tours seem like an awesome way to break down the barriers preventing people from checking out colleges, tourist attractions, sporting events, action sports and other experiences that require a significant investment in time and $$$.

    I rather be able to share my experience running through a spartan race or exploring my soon to be dorm room but that’s just me.

  • John A. Rupkalvis

    Virtual Reality can be 360 degree, but it does not have to be. However, it does have to be in stereoscopic 3D, or it is not virtual reality.