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Samsung debuts first virtual reality camer

Spurring the growth of the field of virtual reality (VR) photography, Samsung announced its first ever 360-degree camera, the Samsung Gear 360, on Feb. 21. The device is designed for consumers to capture full range videos and photos, and is set to select countries of release by the second quarter. Months before the camera’s debut was announced, Samsung also released its first consumer VR headset, the Gear VR. This device was developed in collaboration with Oculus VR and allows for users to interact with virtual environments using a Samsung Galaxy device.

The Gear 360 resembles a white sphere slightly bigger than a golf ball. Fisheye lens, tripod, and single lens mode are just a few of the many functions of the camera. A personalized VR world can be created with the press of a single button, which uses its dual fisheye lenses to stitch together such 360-degree videos. Consumers can then use the Gear VR to watch these videos by moving their heads. However, viewing the images in 2D requires a newer Samsung phone, a downside to the product according to TechRadar.

“I think the Gear 360 is a cool development,” said Victor Kang (10), technology enthusiast. “Now, there is a way for you to take pictures of whole landscapes and share them through different devices. [These developments] provide another leap into the virtual world with immediate access to the devices we have now.”

Integration of VR in not only images, but also social platforms are also rising in popularity. Creating additional momentum around VR viewing experiences for pictures, Flickr announced its plans to develop a new page highlighting 360-degree panorama photos and create a new “sharing” button for these online pictures. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg also expressed his anticipation for the realm of VR gaming, a platform he believes will alter the way people these days work, play, and communicate. In his interview with the BBC, Zuckerberg cited the firm Oculus, as one with the potential to create the most social platform ever.

“These gadgets are interesting not only because of their new functions but also because of the positive impact they can have on technology in the long run,” said Shelley Jeon (9), follower of technology. “With 360-degree cameras, it may be possible to take pictures of outer space or areas unfamiliar to the public as a fresh learning experience. Although I am unsure about how much of the public will use them for their daily use, but the implications of VR for future explorations is worth anticipating.”