For a little over a year now, YouTube creators have had the ability to share 360-degree video content, but those videos didn't offer proper immersive audio formats, and you couldn’t do a live stream with a 360-degree camera. As of today, YouTube is offering both of those features, although you can’t use both features at the same time.
The company plans to broadcast its first large scale event using this feature this coming weekend at the Coachella music festival. You will be able to watch select artists' performances live during the festival in spherical video.
“What excites me most about 360-degree storytelling is that it lets us open up the world's experiences to everyone,” said Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer. “Students can now experience news events in the classroom as they unfold. Travelers can experience faraway sites and explorers can deep-sea dive, all without the physical constraints of the real world. And today's kids dreaming of going to a basketball game or a concert can access those experiences firsthand, even if they're far away from the court. What were once limited experiences are now available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.”
The spatial audio feature is currently limited to on-demand content. Live-streamed content does not support spatial audio cues. YouTube said that the addition of spatial audio to immersive video content enhances the experience with “depth, distance and intensity all playing a role.” The company put together a small playlist of sample videos that have spatial audio enabled, but you’ll need an Android device to take advantage of the technology.
YouTube said it worked with VideoStitch to add 360-degree live streaming capability to its stitching software, and Two Big Ears to add compatibility for its spatial audio technology to YouTube. YouTube said that it is working with other companies that will be announced at a later date.
YouTube noted that 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio equipment is available today at all of the company’s YouTube Spaces, so content creators can make use of these new technologies without (or before) investing in the hardware themselves.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.