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Google Debuts a New Virtual Reality Video File Format

June 23, 2017, 10:55 PM UTC

Google’s virtual reality push involves making some changes to the way people view videos in full 360 degrees.

The search giant (GOOG) said this week that it created a new video file format called VR180 that it hopes makes will make watching 360 degree videos a better experience than with current technology.

Instead of displaying video in full 360 degrees, the new file format only allows for videos to be seen with a VR headset in 180 degrees. By trimming the field of view in half, the video files don’t have to be as large as they currently are.

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Additionally, by not focusing on the full 360 degrees, developers can create more compelling and graphically intense visuals that are displayed directly in front of a person’s field of vision.

The tradeoff is that when a person wearing a VR headset like the Google Cardboard or Sony Playstation VR turns their head to see what’s behind them while viewing a 360 video, they will only see a black screen that fills the space.

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Google said it is working with companies like Lenovo, LG, and YI to build cameras that are designed to work with the 360 video files. Some of these cameras will be available in winter, but Google did not say which ones and how much they would cost.