What’s new in the world of 360-degree cameras this year, from CES and beyond

If 2016 was about launching immersive technology, then 2017 will be about refinement: making things smaller, easier to use, and more affordable.

What’s new in the world of 360-degree cameras this year, from CES and beyond
The Ricoh R is the manufacturer’s first camera designed with an emphasis on video over photos. So new, in fact, that these aren’t even images of the real thing, just Ricoh’s artists’ rendering. But it does point to increased interest in video capture on camera manufacturers’ part.

In particular, 360-degree cameras — which allow you to capture a full 360-degree view of your surroundings with the click of a button — seem to be headed for a breakout with consumers in 2017. (A December 2016 study from Nikon found that 92% of Americans want to use a 360-degree camera to record a personal experience.)

That has coincided with a wave of announcements about new 360-degree cameras that are expected to hit the market this year. Here’s a look at what’s in the works or coming soon for consumers and enthusiasts:

Ricoh R
Ricoh, the company behind some of the top-selling 360 cameras on the market, announced the Ricoh R Development Kit, a 360-degree camera with the potential to livestream for up to 24 hours.
Why it’s worth watching: Though it’s just an announcement of a developer kit for its R at CES, it’s interesting because this is Ricoh’s first camera seemingly designed mostly for video. As the current leader in the consumer 360 camera space (with the bestselling Theta S and SC cameras), what they decide to do will say a lot about what they’re seeing in terms of consumer adoption. It also leaves us all waiting for what the next upgrade of their flagship Theta S will look like.

Kodak PixPro Orbit360
Kodak’s first entry into the 360-degree camera market, the SP360 and its followup, the SP360 4k, only captured images in a half-dome (rather than a full sphere). The Orbit360 fixes that problem, and is now capable of shooting fully spherical images.
Why it’s worth watching: Projected for release in the first quarter of 2017, the Orbit360 is promising to be a video-lover’s camera, with high resolution, simplified video capture (which can be clunky on some cameras), and ruggedized features for price of $499. In form factor and price, it will compete directly with the Nikon KeyMission 360.

The Giroptic iO is the second notable 360 add-on camera for iOS devices. Giroptic previously made the 360 cam, a standalone device.

Giroptic iO
Launching on January 17th, the Giroptic iO ($249) is a device that attaches to your iPhone or iPad and enables to take 360 photos and videos, as well as livestream 360 videos to YouTube and Facebook.
Why it’s worth watching: Giroptic is the second notable 360 camera company to create an iOS-mounted device via the Lightning port (The Insta360 is the other). Giroptic is betting on its app, which they’re hoping will streamline the often clunky process of downloading 360 photos and videos off a camera.

Insta360 Air
The Insta360 Air, a clip-on device that turns Androids into 360-degree cameras, launched on Indiegogo in November 2016 that’s still underway. The camera is available for $99 through pre-order for crowdfunders, and will cost $119 after the campaign.
Why it’s worth watching: The Insta360 Air is almost $100 less than its predecessor, the Insta360 Nano for iPhones, which was one of the early entries into clip-on market for 360-degree cameras. It’s also the first clip-on camera for Android phones, and can also be used as a webcam when plugged into a computer.

Sphere Pro
Sphere Optics recently announced the Sphere Pro, a lens that you can attach to virtually any DSLR into a 360-degree camera. It isn’t on the market yet, so pricing information isn’t available, but you can inquire with Sphere Pro about trying one out.
Why it’s worth watching: Professional quality 360-degree cameras are extremely expensive (often costing thousands of dollars). The Sphere Pro has the potential to reduce the costs significantly by allowing photographers to simply attach a lens to their existing cameras.

What if you’re eager to get a shiny new a 360-degree camera right away? Take a look at our 360 Camera Buying Guide to figure out which one is the best fit for you.

Momento360 is a free way to upload, view, share, and discuss your 360 memories with family and friends.