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Live-streaming 360 video could soon be widely accessible

Lenovo is developing a camera that combines two of the biggest trends in video right now: 360-degree footage and live-streaming.

While there are 360 cameras and there are live-streaming cameras, streaming the large files from a 360 cam requires stitching boxes, cable set-ups, or pricey gear and software not really accessible to consumers. But that could all change quickly, however. According to an interview with the VR-focused publication Upload VR, Lenovo is working on a consumer camera that allows for live-streaming 360 videos, wire-free.

With the camera still in development, there aren’t many specifics floating around such as the price and availability, or for that matter, a name. But Lenovo did say that the camera uses the Myriad 2 processor from Movidius to both stitch the footage and correct the distortion.

Currently, to live-stream, 360 cameras need either a stitching box that handles the computations and uploads, or software from a connected smartphone or computer. Users can live stream via YouTube, for example, with a ORAH 4i camera ($1,795), special stitching software, and a computer. While live-streaming 360 video is possible, it’s not really possible at a price accessible to the average consumer.

The product that’s under development would essentially cut out the middleman, enabling live-streaming without sending the video to stitching software inside a computer or smartphone first, and without using boxes or cables. If the technology is truly as consumer-accessible as Lenovo suggests, the camera would need to be priced significantly lower than the software-and-camera combinations that usually cost well over $2,000.

While both companies are being pretty quiet about the whole thing, the new camera is emerging from a partnership between Lenovo and Movidius. The details are sparse enough to question if the Lenovo device will be the first to offer live-streaming in a consumer camera, but the combination of both features inside something accessible to the masses could make a big impact — allowing parents to live-stream their child’s first steps in 360, for example, so that distant relatives can feel almost like they are in the room.