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YouTube reportedly wants to start live streaming 360-degree video

YouTube has been meeting with camera manufacturers, BuzzFeed News reports, with the intention of developing a way to live stream 360-degree videos. YouTube itself declined to comment on the report, and no timeline has reportedly been set for launch, but the company could be helping to set up specifications with camera manufacturers that would let people stream live 360-degree videos from 360-degree cameras as they currently do from regular cameras.

Most 360-degree cameras can't live stream footage

At the moment, only a select number of 360-degree cameras are capable of that feat, and the video they do output is low quality and designed for the operator's benefit. Instead, most cameras capable of producing 360-degree videos shoot several videos at the same time, only pulling together the finalized footage after filming is complete. That's fine for videos you want to upload later, but to live stream, a platform would need to know the exact specifications of each camera and be capable of processing this information into a coherent video for the stream. If it's capable of hammering out industry standards with manufacturers, YouTube could be capable of doing this processing on its end, or — as BuzzFeed News notes — it could simply be speaking with the manufacturers whose cameras are powerful enough to put video from multiple sources together on the fly.

The talks are the latest in a series of bets YouTube has made on 360-degree videos. The company started supporting the interactive format last March — six months before Facebook added 360-degree videos to its News Feeds — and added Google Cardboard support a few months later. That Cardboard support was beefed up even further in November, allowing users to strap their smartphone into the low-cost headset and look around inside 3D versions of 360-degree videos. Other companies are following YouTube's lead in supporting the technology — it was rumored yesterday that Samsung is putting together its own 360-degree camera.