About Photo Spheres
What is a Photo Sphere?
A photo sphere, or 360 degree photo is a image that allows the viewer to see a location from any given view. Unlike traditional photos, photo spheres let the user look in any direction they want, including straight up or down! They work by mapping a polar coordinate image to a sphere.
What Makes a Photo Sphere Better than a Photo?
Photo spheres invite the user to interact and explore a space, allowing them to engage with it instead of simply be subjected to it. That might not sound like much, but it can lead to a much stronger engagement with your content. We are bombarded with still images on the internet every day, but interactive photo spheres offer to hand control over to the user, allowing them to view a space at their own pace or direction. While video helps people understand a physical space, 360 degree photos go a step further by combining the advantage of a changing viewpoint with the flow control of traditional images. In other words, users can linger on a point of interest for as long as they wish, without being ushered forward like in a video.
How are Photo Sphere’s Viewed?
The technology behind photo spheres has been around for some time, but it has seen a sudden resurgence thanks to the arrival of Virtual Reality. Thanks to companies like Google (Google Street View, Google Cardboard), most of us have become familiar with the technology. Because of this, both smart phones and traditional desktops have robust 360 degree photo viewing abilities built right in. Additionally, smartphones can use their motion sensors to allow users to look around simply by moving their phones, no apps required!
Where is this Technology Headed?
While this new form of media is accessible right now, for anyone who owns a PC or smart phone, it is tailor made for the up and coming Virtual Reality market. You might not see very many VR headsets yet, but thanks to the accessibility of Google Cardboard, the availability of Samsung’s Gear VR and the showstopping power of HTC’s Vive headset, VR has become more common than ever before. Photo Spheres are the first viable bridge between the real world and the virtual one.
My Phone Can Make a Photo Sphere!
Yes it can! But this is different. Your smart-phone creates a photo sphere by capturing and stitching together many smaller photos. Not only does that take a lot longer, it results in many more artifacts such as misaligned seams, changes in color temperature and exposure. Our photo spheres are captured in a single instance, with two very wide angle photos, which minimizes seams and eliminates many of the problems with cell phone based captures. Having one seam also means we can capture small spaces that a phone would fail to photograph correctly.
Click the examples below to check out Photo Spheres for yourself!