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Spherica creates nausea-free immersive video

All of the 360-degree action, none of the uncontrollable vomiting.
Andrew Tarantola, @terrortola
September 12, 2016
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Typically, 360-degree VR video comes in two varieties: static, wherein the camera remains motionless while the onscreen action unfolds around it, and vomit-inducing, where the camera moves but instigates severe motion sickness in the viewer. The San Francisco-based motion picture startup, Spherica, aims to create a third option: immersive VR video that can track, tilt and pan without making the audience lose their lunch.

The company accomplishes this feat through proprietary camera stabilization -- essentially the same sort of gyroscopic hardware that makes the DJI OSMO line so smooth. This allows Spherica to connect cameras to a variety of terrestrial and aerial systems including drones, helicopters, rovers and overhead cable systems, all without generating the camera shake that causes people gastric distress. You can see an example of their work in The Artist of Skid Row, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.

I was able to take a quick look at their video on Monday during the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. Having grown up loving 3D FPS games like Descent, I typically don't have much issue with nausea, though I do occasionally get wicked bad vertigo when viewing immersive video, a la the rock bridge scene in Farpoint. However, I had zero issue watching any of the demos that Spherica showed me. Even when the camera panned down on a pirate battle from above the ships' mainsails or I quickly whipped my head around to follow the onscreen action, the video remained smooth enough that my brain could keep up with the sensory input. I could totally see this technology being adapted for professional sports like the NFL or EPL.

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