When the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) comes to Las Vegas each year, it tends to take one new, emerging technology trend and slap the world in the face with it.
This year it was 360-degree cameras, which have multiple lenses to capture everything in all directions. The images are then instantly stitched together by software in real-time to produce photos and videos that go far beyond the panoramic photos most smartphones are capable of.
Viewing virtual reality content–and that's exactly what 360 degrees is all about–in a truly immersive way requires a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Samsung Gear VR. They'll cost you anywhere from $99.99 to $799.99, but a far more accessible and traveler-friendly way of exploring in 360 degrees is on Facebook, YouTube, and now Twitter, which announced in December that it's at last embracing 360-degree video live-streaming via Periscope. It's easy to view; you just drag your finger left, right, up, or down on the screen to explore the whole image.
Cue a rush of new social media-savvy 360-degree products in Las Vegas. There was Insta360 Air and Insta360 Nano–two clip-on cameras for Android and iPhone phones, respectively–which, like the newly announced Hubblo, can film travel experiences in 360 degrees and broadcast them on social media.
This new technology is also being used for armchair tourism; Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority itself last year took an Oculus Rift VR headset to travel trade shows to showcase a 360-degree video of a sunset helicopter tour over the city. Quark Expeditions also produced a VR antarctic experience for Facebook showcasing its daily itinerary, including an immersive video of what it's like to stand in the middle of a penguin colony.