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The virtual reality camera the Oculus Rift was waiting for

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When Oculus Rift raised $75 million in funding this December, it came with high praise. "We believe Oculus will not only alter the gaming landscape but will redefine fundamental human experiences in areas like film, education, architecture, and design," venture capitalist Mark Andreessen said in a statement. It suggested a broader future for the device, maybe even one that ventures beyond the virtual environments the device has shown off so far. Could the Oculus Rift give us a view into the real world?

Could the Oculus Rift give us a view into the real world?

Today at CES, we got a peek at what that might look like. A company called Geonaute has developed a camera that can capture panoramic footage and port it into the Rift. It's called the Geonaute 360, a column of lenses about the size of a soda can. The camera works on the same mount as the the GoPro, so it's easy to mount it onto a helmet, a backpack or a drone. The hard part of the video processing is all done onboard, so getting the footage off the device is pretty simple. If you don't have an Oculus Rift yet (and unless you're a developer, you don't), you can check out the footage through Geonaut's iOS app or its video-sharing website.

Instead of exploring virtual environments, the Geonaute 360 is taking you to a real moment and a real place. For demos, Geonaut has taken it to the French Alps, scuba diving in Tahiti and, in the most disorienting example, a balloon trek over Switzerland. And thanks to the Rift, you can really be immersed in those places. Geonaute doesn't have the bandwidth for live streaming yet, but it's easy to imagine it as a next step. In the meantime, it's one more reason to be excited for the rise of VR.