Yi Technology, the company shaking up the action camera market with its budget-friendly shooters, is moving into the professional 360-degree space. On April 24, the company launched the Yi Halo, a stereoscopic 8K 360 camera, and the consumer grade Yi 360 VR camera, during the NAB conference in Las Vegas.
The Halo uses 17 camera units paired with Google Jump software. Unlike the 16-camera GoPro Odyssey, that 17th camera on the Yi rig points straight up to capture a seamless stitch that includes the sky (or ceiling). Yi Technology says the Halo is the only hardware using Google Jump to include an up-view camera unit.
Those 17 cameras and Jump stitching software work together to create an 8K x 8K resolution at 30 frames per second. To double the frame rate, the resolution can be stepped down to 5.8K. As a stereoscopic camera, the lenses are arranged in a way that mimics the offset of actual eyes, creating a more realistic, 3D-like effect when using VR goggles.
While pro-level VR rigs tend to be heavy and restrictive, Yi says the Halo is designed to shoot from anywhere. The entire unit weighs less than 7.5 pounds, while the battery allows for 100 minutes of recording on one charge. The unit can also be plugged in for longer shoots. A built-in screen allows controls straight from the camera, while an Android app lets the user do it remotely, including previewing the stitched footage.
Thanks to a modular design, the camera units on the Halo can be upgraded. A one-click firmware update process is also designed to help the device stay current, Yi says. These aspects are ideal, as 360-degree cameras and the industry are still nascent and ever-changing.
“Virtual reality provides incredible new opportunities for creators,” said Sean Da, CEO of Yi Technology, in a statement. “But it also poses a whole new level of challenges. To truly meet the promise of VR, the image quality, capture and stitching needs to match the immersive experience. To be truly active, you have to be able to shoot when and however you want, from many points of view, and without worrying about losing power; and you have to know it will just work, in your control, now and in the future. That is why we spent so many personal hours researching, perfecting and stress-testing the Yi Halo. And why we are so excited to see what today’s amazing creators will do with what is now the most advanced VR system out there.”
Along with the pro-level VR system, the company also announced a consumer-grade option. The Yi 360 VR camera is the only consumer camera with 360 capture up to 5.7K with automatic stitching, the company says. Details are scant at the time of writing.
Details on either camera’s price and release dates are not yet available. Both new cameras are being displayed this week during the NAB Show in Las Vegas.